Amazon Key is a New Service that Lets Couriers Unlock Your Front Door
Twelve years ago, Amazon launched Prime, a subscription service that entitled members to free two-day shipping in the United States. Since then, it has added a number of options to make delivery faster and more convenient. Prime customers can get same-day delivery, and drop off with an hour or two on some items. Of course, customers aren’t always home to receive their packages. So Amazon started putting lockers in nearby convenience stores and building lobbies. It even showed off drones that could drop the package right into your backyard. Today it’s taking the obvious next step and introducing a service that will allow Amazon couriers to open your front door and put your package safely inside your home.
The service is called Amazon Key, and it relies on Amazon’s new Cloud Cam and compatible smart lock. The camera is the hub, connected to the internet via your home Wi-Fi. The camera talks to the lock over Zigbee, a wireless protocol utilized by many smart home devices.
When a courier arrives with a package for in-home delivery, they scan the barcode, sending a request to Amazon’s cloud. If everything checks out, the cloud grants permission by sending a message back to the camera, which starts recording. The courier then gets a prompt on their app, swipes the screen, and voilà, your door unlocks. They drop off the package, relock the door with another swipe, and are on their way. The customer will get a notification that their delivery has arrived, along with a short video showing the drop-off to confirm everything was done properly.
The system works with locks from Yale and Kwikset, two well-known brands. But the other piece, the connected camera, is made by Amazon, and that’s a really big deal. Amazon is pushing even further into the smart home space, a market it’s made big strides in, thanks to the huge popularity of its Alexa devices. Amazon’s Cloud Cam is a central piece of its Key service, but it’s also just a straightforward home security camera, one that can respond to voice commands and integrates with other Alexa devices. Amazon is planning to sell them in bundles and offer a subscription service for customers who want video archives and advanced home monitoring, putting the product in direct competition with Alphabet’s Nest brand and others in the smart home space, like Ring and Logitech.
All this raises a big question, however: will Prime customers trust Amazon to monitor their homes around the clock, and to know when it’s okay to unlock their doors for a stranger? And will the benefit of having your packages delivered quickly and securely outweigh any concerns about privacy and security customers might have?
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