For only $1,000 you can have the privilege of your very own home security robot. Amazon hasn’t come up with any good benefits for having them around yet, other than watching and listening to everything that goes on inside your home. They hope the first few families to beta test it can help their marketing department.
A robot to watch you
It’s one of those “open the pod bay doors, Hal” kind of inventions. Sort of like a roomba except it doesn’t clean anything, this robot is specialized in paying attention to you. Amazon is out to take over the world by installing gadgets in every room of every house.
That way they know what kind of products to sell you. Since the marketing department hasn’t figured out what points to hammer in the advertising, you can only get one if you apply for an “invitation” to own one. That way they can check your background and make sure it goes to a good home.
Amazon Alexa voice assistant coming from an Echo Show tablet on wheels is a lot spookier than it seems.
The gadget designers promise “a hefty dose of artificial intelligence” onboard will allow your robot footman to integrate with “Ring’s home security system” and even answer the door when the bell chimes.
They call him “Astro” and have been slaving over hot microchips for the past four years designing him. The company claims, according to Wired, “it has plans for Astro. It’s just not quite sure exactly what those are yet, so it’s offering the robot by invitation only, hoping thousands of early customers can help define what it’s for.”
They do know the “2-foot-tall, 20-pound” snitch has cameras and microphones rolling day and night. It comes standard with “a 10-inch touchscreen; includes an array of sensors, cameras, and microphones; and can wheel, multi-directionally, around your home.”
It can’t climb stairs
Unlike the low tech slinky, Astro doesn’t walk down stairs, alone or in pairs. It’s also described as “a robot without a cause, at least for now.” His digital daddy, Amazon’s hardware chief Dave Limp has a few suggested applications. Eldercare and home security are the first two which come to mind.
“But ultimately,” Limp notes, “the company wants to get it into customers’ hands so it can identify unique use cases.”
The brain of the robot is “two Qualcomm chips, with artificial intelligence processing built into the chipset. Its operating system is based on FireOS and Linux.” To make it go mobile, Astro “has five motors to give it some oomph, and it can carry a small payload on the back.” Up to 5 pounds.
If you want to get to the command menu, feel free to poke Astro right in the eye and wipe that silly look off his face with a swipe to enter command mode. You can “swipe or tap your way through commands or video chats without having to rely on voice control.”
The pet computer is equipped with rechargable batteries and “when it’s depleted, finds its way back to a fixed charging dock.”
Along with the fancy processor chips, the gizmo is packed with “ultrasonic sensors, time-of-flight cameras, and other imaging tools that let the robot know what’s around it and where it’s going.” It even has a pop-up periscope. All that data can be conveniently beamed back to the mothership. Or the FBI.