Tech&Innovation

Amazon’s Home Companion

Amazon’s Big Announcement

On Tuesday, Amazon announced its home robot that had been stirring up rumors for quite a while. Astro, with a price tag of $999, will launch as a “Day 1 Edition” product, meaning not everyone will have immediate access. Amazon will ask users to sign up for an invitation to order the robot in order to prevent over manufacturing for an insufficient demand of the product. Amazon has also announced that the Astro will go on sale later in the year, but has not specified a launch date. 

Astro

Astro is a three-wheeled robot that has combined many of Amazon’s other successful products into one. The Ring camera is present, attached to a 42-inch arm that can remotely monitor your house for you. Additionally, it features the smart screens seen on the Amazon Echo that can play movies, TV shows, or be used to have video calls. The Echo and Alexa features can also be used, with Astro also functioning as a smart speaker to get useful information such as the weather or other relevant news. Finally, it also has a storage compartment in the back that is used for transporting objects. All of these features interplay with each other in Astro’s interface, allowing for tasks such as bringing food to a specific person, or keeping track of someone moving around the house in a video call to be accomplished. 

Controversy

Amazon’s expansion into the field of home security is at a time of extreme doubt and scrutiny towards security products due to privacy-invasive tech practices. Astro comes with technology that can be used for much more potent surveillance than before, all in one package, testing the boundaries for how intrusive technologies can be for consumers to still buy them. Amazon has been testing the waters in the security technology industry for a while, with the Echo speaker, Alexa virtual assistant, and Ring doorbell. However, all these technologies are now combined into one with a set of wheels, and a much more obvious increased reach.While Astro is said to disconnect all microphones, cameras, and sensors while turned off, information may still be pulled from unsuspecting customers.

Sources:

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/09/28/amazon-robot-a-first-look-at-the-999-astro.html

https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/01/tech/amazon-astro-privacy-concerns/index.html

Categories: Tech&Innovation