When Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos, promised in 2013 that drones would soon be flying everywhere delivering packages, a miniature camera whirring through homes and recording video was probably not what people envisioned.
But on Thursday, Amazon’s Ring division unveiled the $249 Ring Always Home Cam, a small drone that hums as it flies around houses filming everything, ostensibly for security purposes.
Amazon also introduced new Echo devices, a cloud gaming service called Luna and other products. But the home security drone stood out. The company’s promotional video highlighting the camera showed a burglar breaking into a home and getting spooked as the drone flew straight at him — “Oh, no!” he exclaimed — while the homeowner watched the encounter on his phone.
“Oh, yes,” the ad proclaimed.
Ever get a Ring Alarm alert and want to immediately see what’s happening? The Ring Always Home Cam is here to help. This compact, lightweight, autonomously flying indoor camera gives even greater visibility when you’re not home. Learn more: https://t.co/A62pZUuYDa [US Only] pic.twitter.com/13cXKtEeSs
— Ring (@ring) September 24, 2020
Reaction to the surveillance drone was spirited — but not in the way Amazon might have hoped.
“In a country with no laws regulating digital privacy, anyone who buys this from a company with a history of privacy problems is insane,” tweeted Walt Mossberg, a longtime tech product reviewer who is a member of the nonprofit News Literacy Project’s board.
Ring said the drone could be used to check whether a homeowner had left the stove on or a window open, and promised that it would record only