October 26, 2017

Amazon Invades Crowded Home Security Cam Space and Then Some...

In the past few months, there seems to be a spike in the overlapping of home automation gadgets.  Whereas I am not seeing a whole lot of innovation, I am seeing whole lot of large companies throwing its weight into the mix and overlapping on pre-existing functionalities.  In some cases, I am seeing existing companies rolling out superfluous updates.  Just a few examples I can think of off the top of my head:

1. SimpliSafe Security adds a security camera option vs. NEST/Drop Cam, Netgear Arlo, Logitech Logi, Sengled Flood Light Cam
2. The all new NEST IQ camera line which I only see limited marginal value versus its existing Nest Cam Pros
3. NEST rolls out it's own home security system to take on SimpliSafe
4. Ring (the Doorbell/Camera folks) gets into the home security business to take on SimpliSafe and Nest
5. Google and Amazon rolling out new iterations of its smarthome speakers

Finally, Amazon drops the bomb yesterday on their new Cloud Cam and Amazon Key.  The camera (and for now a limited list of approved smartlocks) are required to use the Amazon Key program which allows the delivery man to drop off a package inside your home.  Jim Cramer made a good point about how this can be pivotal if their Wholefoods delivery strategy were to take off, delivery man can potentially drop off the perishables right into your fridge.

The crazy thing is, Amazon's entry angle is far more complicated than issuing another way to help you keep an eye on your home.  Its part of a greater design.  It all started with the invasion of those harmless little re-order buttons known as Dash.  At all moments, Amazon wants to know more about their customers and they know that the only way to truly own that relationship is by investing into hardware.  They know that to truly dominate the personal data space, they have to own the hardware that is collecting the data.  In the early days, their conquest was more passive, developing Kindle e-Book, Amazon Dash, Kindle HD ad Kindle Phone.  Then came along the harmless looking Echo speakers.  Realizing more receptors are better, they rolled out the more affordable Echo Dots, and offered a "3-pack" so it can be filled in every room.  

The Cloud Cam + Smart Door Lock integration is a bold move.  It not only completes the audio and visual coverage to average households, it grants their army of delivery personnel PHYSICAL access into your home.  

I think its both a progressive and scary thought at the same time.  On one hand, your door lock is one of the more sacred thing that stands for the barrier between you and the world, on the other hand, the irony of owning a "smartlock" is to somehow give access to random people while you are not around.  For example, I have always welcomed the idea of installing a smart garage door opener so I can allow deliveries to be made while I am not at home, that said, I would be the one opening the door remotely, as opposed to allowing the delivery man to open the garage door.  In addition to the fact that you are seriously giving up a lot of "big brother" like monitoring to Amazon since they can now watch you and hear your every move in the house.

It would be really interesting to see just how many people are willing to go through with this or better yet, can even take advantage of this.  I can't imagine there are too many people that have a pre-approved smartlock installed as is.  I am unfamiliar with the details but it seems like the smartlocks would also have to be on the Zigbee protocol (it is my understanding that you can install a Yale or Kwikset smartlock w/o being on a larger home automation system like Zigbee; whereas some locks are only to be used with Apple Home Kit or Z-Wave).   If you meet lock crtieria AND are willing to buy the new Amazon Cloud Cam, you can then think about the privacy issues before you hand over the key to your kingdom.

Regardless, Amazon just advanced their position towards a check, your move _____ (Google, Apple, Facebook, Samsung, Startups....)


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