Do you need a smart device that films, maps out your home in vivid detail, and recognizes people’s faces?
Unveiled at Amazon’s latest devices and services event yesterday, amongst an array of other products, Astro is the home robot friend that many around the world have been wanting for some time now.
What Is Amazon Astro Home Robot?
The official statement on Astro states that it uses machine learning to “proactively patrol your home, investigate activity, and send you notifications when it detects something unusual,” this includes recording video with an extendable boom arm. It uses “deep neural learning to map anchor points in the home,” which sounds cool and is a nice bit of advanced technology. The majority of its data is shared with Ring security and other Amazon tech so if you’re already an Amazon product owner, it certainly has its advantages. Also, let’s not forget Amazon Sidewalk is enabled by default on a lot of new Amazon devices, sharing a small portion of your home network to other devices and strangers.
Amazon Astro Home Robot Features
Here are the official features from the launch. Oh, it doesn’t go up or downstairs (yet):
- Keep home closer – Meet Astro, the household robot for home monitoring, with Alexa.
- Introducing Intelligent Motion – Amazon Astro uses advanced navigation technology to find its way around your home and go where you need it. When you’re not using Astro, it will hang out close by at the ready.
- Stay connected from anywhere – Remotely send Astro to check on specific rooms, people, or things. Plus, get alerts if Astro detects an unrecognized person or certain sounds when you’re away.
- Unlock even more peace of mind – Activate your 6-month free trial of Ring Protect Pro subscription and have Astro proactively patrol, investigate activity, save videos in Ring’s cloud storage for up to 60 days, and more.
- Alexa Together subscription (coming soon) – Remotely care for aging loved ones, giving you peace of mind while helping them live independently. Set up reminders, manage shopping lists, receive activity alerts, and more.
- Put Alexa in motion – Astro can follow you with entertainment or find you to deliver calls, messages, timers, alarms, or reminders.
- Designed to protect your privacy – Turn off mics, cameras, and motion with one press of a button and use the Astro app to set out of bounds zones to let Astro know where it’s not allowed to go.
- Customize with compatible products – Astro comes with a detachable cup holder and can carry other items (sold separately) like a Ziploc container, the OMRON blood pressure monitor, and a Furbo Dog Camera that tosses treats to your pet.
Amazon Astro Home Robot – What About Security?
Some say Amazon has had a troubled history with security in general, with Garfield Benjamin covering the general social commentary when it comes to Amazon device surveillance. More recently, Vice reported on tests with Ring cameras being used for police surveillance in Mississippi, although law enforcement stated that they would need a waiver to be signed to do this.
Moving our focus to Amazon’s Sidewalk initiative, which is apparently triple encoded for the safety of its users, is enabled by default. This isn’t something that is widely known, and we can guarantee there’s a good percentage of people who have no idea about the technology. Regardless of security measures though, sharing your home network with outsiders is opening up said network to malware attacks, hacks, and other malicious activities. There’s always someone who will work around digital restrictions to access sensitive information, we can only do our best to improve preventative measures through firmware updates, firewalls, anti-virus software, VPNs, etc. Just be wary.
With that being said, the Astro does have a whole host of security features to prevent any of the above from occurring. Here’s the official word from Amazon themselves:
- Advanced safety system: Astro’s system of safety sensors, combined with a dedicated safety processor, works to detect features like stairs and obstacles in real time. For example, control features, such as active and passive braking, can help stop the device if a pet suddenly moves into Astro’s path.
- On-device processing: We’ve designed Astro to handle a lot of the data processing on the device, including the images and raw sensor data it processes as it moves around your home. This helps Astro respond quickly to its environment. In addition, your visual ID is stored on the device, and Astro uses on-device processing to recognize you.
- Out of bounds zones: After you allow Astro to explore the layout of your home, you can designate areas that are off-limits. These out of bounds zones let Astro know where it’s not allowed to go. When told an area is out of bounds, Astro will avoid entering these spaces, and it will even leave the area if manually placed in an out of bounds zone.
- Microphones/cameras off: Like Echo devices, Astro has a microphones/cameras-off button customers can press whenever they want to turn off cameras, mics, and motion. When this button is pressed, Astro cannot move, or capture video or audio, and a dedicated red LED is illuminated to match the red status indicator on screen.
- Clear indicators when streaming features are active: Astro makes it easy to understand what it’s doing at any given moment. It has an easy-to-see LED light on top of its periscope to let you know when it is streaming video or audio to the cloud. For example, the indicator light on top of Astro’s periscope will turn green whenever video is streamed to the cloud, like when live view is in progress. You may also see a picture-in-picture view of your own video or another on-screen indicator. When Astro detects the wake word, a visual indicator signals that Astro is recording your voice request to stream to the cloud. For example, the indicator light on top of Astro’s periscope will turn blue.
Amazon Astro Home Robot – How To Buy
If you’re confident with your home network security management, there’s no harm in buying one. Amazon Astro Home Robot is being rolled out in small quantities to start with, starting life as part of the Amazon Day One Editions program. Here’s the catch, sales are invite-only for now, but you can click here to send an invite request over to Amazon.