Announcing Key, Amazon’s Smart Home Lock Technology
Amazon is making a bold foray into making homes smarter, at least when it comes to ecommerce deliveries. The company recently announced Amazon Key, a home automation system that lets your home take deliveries even when you are away. Amazon launched the system in more than 30 cities across the country. These include Boston, MA, Houston, TX and San Francisco, CA.
Recent Advances In Modern Home Technologies
This latest move by Amazon in home automation indicates the coming battle for the future of the industry. Home automation systems have made great strides in the last 5 years. The industry, worth an estimated USD 39.73 Billion in 2017, is forecasted to grow to USD 79.57 Billion by 2022. In its report on the industry early in 2017, CNBC reported on the fragmentation of the industry. This created a situation in which consumers had uncertainty whether the systems they installed would be surviving for any reasonable length of time.
However, key players like Google, Samsung and Apple are jostling for control of this lucrative new industry. Google, for instance, has the Google Home initiative, while Apple’s HomeKit provides home automation via Apple accessories. Amazon’s Key product complements its broader Amazon Alexa smart home system.
How Does The Amazon Door-Lock Technology Work?
The Amazon Key system is squarely geared at enabling seamless ecommerce deliveries. The system not only brings goods to a customer’s doors, but goes beyond that. It enables Amazon delivery people to put groceries in the fridge and packages where they belong.
To facilitate monitoring entry to your house while you are away, the Amazon Key comes with a security camera connected to the cloud. The Amazon Cloud Cam (Key Edition) records full HD video of the delivery and makes it available for streaming in real time.
Besides the camera, the Key includes a smart lock as well as an app for interacting with the system. The door locks come from leading manufacturers such as Yale and Kwikset. Customers can pick from any Amazon Key-compatible smart lock.
With the Amazon Key app, users can watch deliveries, receive notifications of deliveries, and lock or unlock doors at any time. Real-time video lets a user keep tabs on deliveries as well as ensure that there are no problems for the delivery personnel.
Video will help verify that only the stated personnel are in fact accessing your home. In addition, you can give smart access to your house to friends, family members and other businesses.
How Much Will This Smart Home Vision Cost?
The Amazon Key In-home Kit comes at a cost of $249.99. Customers can get the kit from Amazon. There is no monthly or other charge. To sweeten the deal, Amazon will even install the Key and equipment at your house for free. On checkout, you select free installation, or you can do it yourself.
Eligibility for the Amazon Key, however, is currently limited to Amazon Prime customers. Amazon Prime is Amazon’s subscription service which offers free shipping, streaming, and other premium services.
Restricting access to Amazon Key to only Amazon Prime subscribers lets Amazon focus on a tier of customers who are arguably its most loyal.
Privacy: Will It Be Safe For End Users?
While there are concerns regarding the safety of the Amazon Key for consumers, other smart lock makers have introduced similar products.
Systems by Yale and Kevo, makers of smart locks for the smart home, enable smart management of entry and exits. Yale’s Real Living Touchscreen Z-Wave Deadbolt costs $159.99. It allows lock automation with a smart key, and works with multiple home monitoring systems.
Kevo has a comparable system, the Kwikset Kevo, which costs $212. Like Amazon’s Key, the Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock can be set up to remotely monitor entry and exits, but requires additional hardware for this.
Amazon has acknowledged that the Amazon Key will not suit the security or privacy preferences of all customers. For example, in its official page for the Amazon Key, the company has said, “On the day of delivery, you will need to disarm your home security alarm. We do not recommend using in-home delivery if you are not comfortable disarming your security system on delivery day.”
In other words, if you have special security arrangements that you are afraid to compromise, your system might not work with Amazon’s. If you have special valuables inside the house, disabling your house security system for the day could be too much.
Giving Amazon potential control over your security systems will be an uncomfortable area for some. In particular, having Amazon access data about your home security and other necessary data has alarmed users.
Amazon, however, enjoys a strong security reputation in the tech space. Some security analysts have pointed out that the main risks come from third parties.
“It’s not how Amazon will use the information, but how hackers could potentially exploit it,” says Adam Maskatiya, who is the General Manager at Kaspersky Lab, the cyber security firm. “What makes the issue particularly dangerous is its potential reach – if a hacker can access the database of door codes, they can gain entry to a whole street’s worth of homes.”
What Does The Future Hold For Smart Home Technology?
Amazon has already indicated it will open the smart home technology in Amazon Key to other companies. For now, the Amazon Key will be in use by Merry Maids and Rover.com to enable their deliveries.
Beyond Amazon, users can expect to see a plethora of new smart home products and systems. Smart home companies like Samsung, with its SmartThings ecosystem, continue pushing the technology forward.
Convenience Still Demands Security Due Diligence
The Amazon Key, for ecommerce deliveries, presents a genuinely new level of convenience. If you have missed some important deliveries because you were not home, this is the product for you. However, some security and privacy considerations are in order. Before you take on the Amazon Key, ensure you have considered how it fits in with whatever security you are currently using on your home.