As expected, Amazon is launching a new program that makes it easier to receive deliveries when you’re not around. And as expected, it sounds both super useful and a bit creepy.
Here’s the deal: Amazon Key is a new service that’s designed to let a delivery person have temporary access to your home to drop off a package when you’re not around. Once you’ve installed a smart lock and a security camera you could also use the system to allow guests, repair people, pet sitters, or others into your home.
It’s an interesting solution to a real problem: as a city dweller, I really don’t want Amazon or anyone else leaving packages on my porch. But it does mean putting a fair amount of faith into the system: do you value secure deliveries so much that you’re willing to let strangers into your home when you’re not there?
Amazon is trying to make the idea of granting remote access to a home less creepy by putting a lot of control in your hands: access to your home is revoked after a delivery is completed, users get real-time notifications on their phone and the company is launching a new Amazon Cloud Cam security camera that starts recording when the door is unlocked.
Amazon Key kits sell for $250 and up, and include the Cloud Cam ($120) and a choice of third-party smart locks. You need to be an Amazon Prime member to qualify, and Amazon Key will be available in just 37 metro markets when the service launches November 8th.
Once installed, a delivery person will have to request access to your home and Amazon will verify that the driver is at the right place at the right time before providing access. No physical keys are required and there’s no PIN or passcode that needs to be shared. And the camera will help you keep an eye on things to make sure nothing but the driver leaves the house while a package if being dropped off.
The service is also covered by Amazon’s “Happiness Guarantee” which promises up to $2,500 to cover property damage incurred during service.
One of the more interesting parts of Amazon Key is that it’s not just for deliveries. Amazons says it plans to offer “professional service scheduling with thousands of providers” in the “coming months.” In other words, the same system will let your dog walker or house cleaner get into your home without a spare key.
While early reports had suggested Amazon would partner with Phrame to provide access to your car trunk as well as your house, today’s announcement makes no mention of such a feature.
Not interested in Amazon Key? The new Cloud Cam is also available as a standalone device. You can pre-order one for $120, although there are also bundle deals right now if you want to buy more than one. You can get two for $200 when you use the coupon 2CLOUDCAM or get a 3-pack for $290 with 3CLOUDCAM.
The camera offers 24/7 real-time monitoring with 1080p video with clips uploaded to Amazon’s servers. You can view the last 24 hours of clips for free, get notifications when activity is detected, and there’s a night vision feature. The camera also supports 2-way audio, letting you check remotely.
More advanced features including person detection, clip sharing, and support for more than 3 cameras require a subscription, with plans starting at $7 per month or $70 per year.
Of course, Amazon is just one of many companies with a smart security camera to sell you. But it’s interesting that the company’s first foray into the space is not only related to Amazon’s other smart home products (such as its Echo speakers), but also its delivery business.