Ring’s Always Home Cam

An Indoor Drone for a New Method of Home Surveillance


Source: CNN Business

Hailey Newman, Staff Writer

Amazon’s Ring recently announced its new Always Home Cam, a $250 autonomous indoor drone that can take flight whenever and wherever you want within your home. The Cam allows you to stream high definition video content on a preset route of spots in your house, straight to your smartphone. As an alternative to bulky and hard set stationary cameras, the Ring might excite customers who are in the market for new indoor surveillance. However, the idea of a camera navigating through one’s home on its own worries many about their privacy.

The drone can be set into motion in two ways. First, if it is set in “Away” mode on the Ring alarm system, meaning nobody is in the house. If the drone detects motion, it will automatically fly to that location. The drone will stream a video of your home. Having the ability to fly when a crime is detected is only possible when the drone is connected to the Ring’s alarm system.

The other way to utilize the drone is to manually program the drone to hover to a specific spot in the home. To do this, the customer must designate preset paths that the drone could potentially follow via its smartphone app. According to Ring President Leila Rouhi, “The path is entirely determined by the customer […] You actually walk the device around your home and […] Train it on that path and can set different waypoints for the camera to fly to.”

Once the drone is programmed to the specified route, it flies based on the app’s controls. This feature will be convenient in situations like checking to see if you left your flat iron on, or making sure you closed a window.

With all of these positive attributes, clients are on board with the drone, right? Wrong. In fact, many privacy advocates are very skeptical about the idea of a camera that they cannot manually control unless through a phone.

What troubles people the most is the possibility of a drone taking control and videoing them, without the customer programming it to do so. The camera is located on the short trunk just below the propellers. However, when the drone is stationed in its charging dock, the camera is blocked to prevent any possible recording. President Leila Rouhi explains that only once the drone is in flight can it record its surroundings.

Another concern is the possibility of the drone encroaching on someone’s privacy without the customer being cognizant of being recorded. This will not be a worry, for the drone releases a humming noise when it is in the air and is actively recording, making it obvious that the drone is taking surveillance.

One of the largest hesitations to buying this drone is that Ring has partnered with hundreds of law enforcement agencies and police in the United States through its app, Neighbors. Neighbors is an app that allows law enforcement officials to obtain past video surveillance clips on the Ring devices, even if the owner denies access to the videos. This creates a sense of uneasiness for some customers, who are concerned that the surveillance is not as private as they initially thought.

Nevertheless, the Always Home Cam provides an unlimited and mobile form of surveillance that has never been used before for security. The drone’s capabilities, like streaming video surveillance via smartphone while the owner is not home, is no doubt impressive.

But will these technological advancements outweigh the significant privacy concerns? At this point, no one knows. The masses will just have to wait until its release in 2021 to determine if this autonomous indoor drone will be a popular and fit purchase for the home.