Astro wants to be the Big Brother… of your house

At this point, no one is unaware that Amazon is going all out in the domestic sector. It’s not just that its smart speakers have conquered millions of homes, but Alexa is suddenly everywhere: on the TV, in the car, in wireless headphones, in security cameras, and even in doormen. automatic.

In that “conquest” operation, last year we told you that Jeff Bezos’s company went a step further with “Astro”, a nice robot on wheels that, powered by AI that until now served as a “pet with possibilities of something else.”

That something else is what the company presented yesterday at its annual hardware conference. As explained yesterday by Ken Washington, vice president of consumer robotics From Amazon, the future of this googly-eyed robot is to become a real home watchman.

Thanks to its new software update, Astro will now be able to “take a look” at our pets, sending us a video feed about their daily activities, so that we stay calmer. But he will also do his particular round of surveillance in our home, to make sure that everything is going well, that is, there are no intruders at home or any other security problem.

In a first stage, explained the director of the multinational, Astro will have the capacity to monitor doors and windows, so that it will notify us if, for example, we have left an access point open when it should not be. But this is only the beginning. Amazon has also announced a collaboration agreement with Ring (the video surveillance company it acquired in 2018) by which Astro will also incorporate the system Virtual Security Guard.

Until now implemented in small businesses to protect them against possible intrusions (Ring cameras have the ability to alert security forces if there is an attempted robbery in a store, for example), its arrival at Astro will mean that this wandering robot will be capable of detecting if someone who should not be trying to enter our home, which would cause not only an alert on our mobile phone but also, if we wish, to alert the authorities.

This, of course, raises doubts not only from the point of view of the security of our homes (that is, if we trust that the product will work as promised), but above all from that of privacy or what it’s the same: to what extent we are willing to allow Amazon to peek into our lives.

On the other hand, Ring’s approach to surveillance has not been without controversy especially due to an unfortunate advertising campaign in which it seemed that Amazon was taking advantage of a problem as serious as gender violence to sell surveillance cameras. The company has also been denounced by the racial profiling and the violation of privacy. With this in mind, it’s reasonable to wonder if the combination of Astro’s ability to prowl around a house with Ring’s established surveillance system would be something many people would be comfortable with or if it would be the closest thing to open the door of your home to a whole Big Brother.

With this launch, Amazon of course does not hide its true intentions: to know everything it can about our daily lives, to discover even more precisely who we really are and how it can sell us more things. But the truth is that a robot like Astro can change the way people “face” a video surveillance scenario and that it could normally be too “intimidating” in the tranquility of a home. Of course, if it becomes popular, Amazon will not only have conquered our living room with its smart speakers, but it will have forever changed our relationship with the space we inhabit.

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