back to article Flying camera drones, cuddly Echo gadgets... it's all a smoke screen for Amazon to lead you gently down the Sidewalk – and you'll probably like it

You may not want one, but the idea of your own miniature security drone taking off when it senses someone trying to break into your house and doing a tour inside your property, relaying hi-res video to your phone, is so fantastically sci-fi that it’s hard to imagine it will soon be a real product. But it will, according to …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    It helps to have the world's wussiest burglar break into your house...

    IF I was inclined to break into people's homes for fun and/or profit. And IF I was confronted by the Amazon drone-cam. Instead of saying "Oh no" and running out the door, I would probably grab the drone out of the air and throw it in the toilet. At that point, you you have already broken into the home, so you might as well have some fun and grab a few items before taking off.

    1. Shadow Systems

      Re: It helps to have the world's wussiest burglar break into your house...

      Don't stick it in the loo, take it with everything else. Drop it in a Faraday bag to prevent any tracking, then nick everything in the place that has a computer. Leave a note (letters cut out of magazines while wearing gloves) that says something like "You suck. I hate you. -Alexa" or somesuch to rub their noses in it.

      Why yes, I *do* loathe all the "Smart" device idiocy, why do you ask? =-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It helps to have the world's wussiest burglar break into your house...

        How about "Get a REAL security system! XOXOXO, Siri", since the Amazon'd home owners probably already have an Alexa account.

        1. hoola Silver badge

          Re: It helps to have the world's wussiest burglar break into your house...

          Doesn't a good old fashioned balaclava with holes for the eye solve the problem?

          Sadly people are going to by this shite because they can. There are so many people that will buy into any piece of tech because it is "cool" it is frightening. Maybe the burglar could sue the occupants for having the image uploaded without consent.........

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It helps to have the world's wussiest burglar break into your house...

            Well now, your fearsome intellect and wisdom has just skewered the worldwide CCTV market and rendered fingerprinting and DNA profiling obsolete. Or are criminals quite often at the arse-end of the intelligence spectrum?

          2. The Corner of Moron

            Re: It helps to have the world's wussiest burglar break into your house...

            Depends...did you buy your balaclava on Amazon? You probably did in which case the security drone doo-dah knows who you are and is already emailing you...

            "People who got caught in this Balaclava also bought..."

          3. My-Handle Silver badge

            Re: It helps to have the world's wussiest burglar break into your house...

            Indeed it does

            Back in the mid-2000's, one of my hallmates at uni had his room broken into (a mischievous joke, nothing of note was taken). He invested in a motion-tracking-and-recording webcam and boasted about it to the whole building. His room was broken into again, this time by someone holding up a bedsheet between themselves and the camera. The camera was then nicked, but the intruder left the laptop. With the recording playing on loop on the screen.

            If only I also hadn't boasted to the entire building....

        2. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: It helps to have the world's wussiest burglar break into your house...

          "Get a real security system"

          If you like dogs get a Rottweiler, it will probably allow the intruder to enter but will not let him leave.

          Rotties don't bark much either, unless the baddy is trying to leave.

          I'm not much of a dog lover but a Rottweiler comes a long way before buying this Amazon crap, plus it will keep your data to itself..

          I have no problem with a stand alone system but connected? No thanks.

          1. Thomas Steven 1

            Re: It helps to have the world's wussiest burglar break into your house...

            Unfortunately if your rottie grabs a burglar and hangs on to him by the leg for 3 hours, doing minimal damage to the burglar, the law seems to take the view that your dog is dangerous and should be put down, and the burglar gets off scot free because of his 'ordeal'. Of course your family pet being murdered in the course of its duties doesn't count as an 'ordeal'. Best to have a plan for disposing of burglars properly.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: It helps to have the world's wussiest burglar break into your house...

      I think their theory is that, while you're trying to find something with which to knock it out of the air, it's sending your picture off to the cloud and nearby police. This picture will be used by the police to arrest someone who looks a little like you or maybe nothing like you and by Amazon to recommend new tools for breaking and entering when you sign into your Amazon account.

      I do kind of want a small drone; it's in that category of things I don't really know what to do with but there must be something useful because they're cool. I wouldn't buy something like this for the life of me because the drone is only useful [fun] if I can program it to fly exactly how I direct, photograph what I tell it to, and deliver the video to the system I define and no others. I have no confidence that Amazon would let me do any of this. Worse, from their privacy record, I expect my data to be stored forever with dubious access control and that both my past footage and the drone itself will be instantly available to police without any justification whatsoever.

      1. Claverhouse Silver badge

        Re: It helps to have the world's wussiest burglar break into your house...

        The cops will be there in a matter of hours !

        1. Wincerind

          Re: It helps to have the world's wussiest burglar break into your house...

          "The cops will be there in a matter of hours". No

          The cops may call you back with a crime number in a week or so.

          FTFY

          1. Insert sadsack pun here Silver badge

            Re: It helps to have the world's wussiest burglar break into your house...

            I'm a police sceptic, but when someone kicked in my neighbour's door a couple of months ago, there were three carloads of them searching the house Tasers drawn within 3 mins of being called. I appreciate this is anecdata and YMMV...

            1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

              Re: It helps to have the world's wussiest burglar break into your house...

              After which you were arrested for putting your rubbish in the wrong bin ...

            2. Wincerind

              Re: It helps to have the world's wussiest burglar break into your house...

              I wasn't a police sceptic. Until I got my caravan stolen off my driveway in broad daylight about 20 years ago. All I got was a crime number after about a week.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The cops will be there in a matter of hours !

          what cops? :( At least in the UK they do not visit crime scene by default. And that's if you manage to get through within an hour to report the crime on a paid-for phone line. Or spend around 30 min to complete an online report.

    3. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

      Re: It helps to have the world's wussiest burglar break into your house...

      @Marketing Hack: ... grab the drone out of the air ...

      Obviously, any froody burglar will have a towel ready for the purpose, and most definitely WON'T PANIC!

      1. HeIsNoOne
        Happy

        Re: It helps to have the world's wussiest burglar break into your house...

        Ah, but will he know how to hard-wire it so it's permanently happy?

    4. Flywheel Silver badge

      Re: It helps to have the world's wussiest burglar break into your house...

      .. and as you leave, shout out "Alexa, order 1000 industrial-strength toilet rolls. Confirm!"

    5. spold Silver badge

      Re: It helps to have the world's wussiest burglar break into your house...

      Amazon's "The Executioner Wasp, Bug, & Mosquito Swatter Zapper" should take care of the pesky flying thing. Mind you anyone ordering one should go to the top of the suspects list.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: It helps to have the world's wussiest burglar break into your house...

        I do my very best to avoid buying anything from Amazon - the gymnastics you have to go through to avoid Prime is enough to put me off, irrespective of any philosophical objection - but I'd definitely buy Amazon's 'The Executioner Wasp'.

        Do they also sell refills for the sting?

    6. 2+2=5 Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: It helps to have the world's wussiest burglar break into your house...

      > IF I was inclined to break into people's homes for fun and/or profit.

      Amazon Review: [✓] Confirmed purchaser [✓] Confirmed burglar

      Thanks Amazon, the Ring Always Home Cam is a *great* product. Disassembly and reverse engineering was quick and easy. Now I can just hack into people's Ring Always Home Cams and do a tour of the house remotely to see whether there is anything worth nicking. Think of the travel time I'll save not having to physically go and case properties any more!

      ★★★★☆

  2. The Central Scrutinizer

    I'll keep living in my gloriously dumb home....

    thanks very much. I have to put a key in the front door lock to get inside. The horror!

    This is surveillance capitalism gone totally mad.

    And of course there will never be any data breaches, cos they have the best suckurity systems in place on all their devices.

    1. DCFusor

      Re: I'll keep living in my gloriously dumb home....

      At least they still can't hear my imaginary guitar notes.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: they have the best suckurity systems in place on all their devices

      and take privacy of their customers extremely seriously.

    3. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: I'll keep living in my gloriously dumb home....

      Others that looked for Door Locks With Keys also searched for......

    4. cyberdemon Silver badge
      Terminator

      Manhacks

      Indeed. No telescreens in here, until they become mandatory. And even then, over my dead body.

      But my personal suspicion is that yes, this is a smokescreen, but not for what TFA suggests.

      I think Amazon are being quite clever about developing technologies that he world's militaries would be interested in, without advertising as such, for else they would create a PR brouhaha.

      Bezos & co don't really care if this little drone is a big fat flop. They have already developed long-distance "delivery" drones that were a big fat flop. But GPS-denied, comms-denied, autonomous vision-based navigation & target identification is something that militaries around the world are enormously interested in.

      They will develop this to the point where "it works" (but nobody wants it) and then wait for the calls from President Assad, Lukashenko, The Combine, etc.

  3. jake Silver badge

    Oddly enough ...

    ... I bought a couple one inch end mills late this morning, and was throwing chips about just after lunch.

  4. jake Silver badge

    "The network will be locked down, and none of your information will be shared. Except, that is, with Amazon."

    Because as we all know, "the cloud" is completely safe and has never been compromised in any way.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      I would wager Amazon's servers have better security than your traditional security system's servers. Tricky if you want home surveillance for security reasons, since it means you have to let someone see into your house.

  5. jake Silver badge

    NOT cute. At all.

    "and there'll be a cute version that looks like a panda or tiger that will read to your kids."

    And listen to your kids. And if not now, eventually keep an eye on your kids ... This shit has got to the the creepiest thing I've ever heard of, spies that target children are the lowest of the low.

    1. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

      Re: NOT cute. At all.

      Anyone remembers Furby?

      1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        Re: NOT cute. At all.

        Yep. But it wasn't networked.

      2. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: NOT cute. At all.

        Sorry to ruin your memories...look up Furby Connect.

        Yup even Furby became an industry spy.

  6. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Living in the box

    > drone taking off when it senses someone trying to break into your house

    In the UK there were 365,000 burglaries in 2019. That is in a total of 25 million houses

    So on that basis there isn't a "when" to someone breaking in to yours, on average it will happen once every 68 years. What will be the working life of this little toy? How long before Amazon unilaterally withdraws the services it relies on? What do we reckon - 3 to 5 years?

    However, break-ins are not evenly distributed. Most burglars work within a small radius of where they live, maybe a mile or two. (They aren't known for their intelligence.) Thus making it pretty easy for the police to work out who the perps were. So presuming the sort of person who buys this has the right combination of affluence and gullibility - a rare combination for obvious reasons, they are unlikely to reside in the sort of neighbourhood that has a high crime rate.

    It seems to me that devices like this are aimed at the sort of person who counts as worried well. They are a little bit paranoid about their health and so they pester their doctors even though there is nothing wrong with them. They are more than a little bit paranoid about home security so they buy a device that will almost certainly never detect a break-in and will therefore pass its entire life sitting in the box it was delivered in.

    For those people, maybe they would also like to purchase a tiger repelling rock

    1. GruntyMcPugh

      Re: Living in the box

      I have dogs. Four to be precise, so when people knock on the door, or even talk too loudly, they bark. All this Amazon drone needs is several sets of teeth and the ability to surround an uninvited guest, and it'll be as good as dog v1.0.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Living in the box

        I have dogs, if someone unexpected comes round they roll over and ask for tummy tickles, and sometimes pee themselves with excitement. If the stranger also has food, then clearly they are a friend for life.

        Don't get a spaniel if you want a guard dog...

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. JDX Gold badge

        Re: Living in the box

        My security system doesn't need someone to come and feed it if I go away. For that matter, most people take their dogs with them when they go places, which defats the security presence somewhat.

    2. NightFox

      Re: Living in the box

      I actually think this addresses a gap in remotely-monitored home security systems that doesn't occur to most people until their systems are up and running. Getting a notification that there's movement in your lounge when you're on holiday 2000 miles away is good, but then what do you do? You've got no way of knowing whether it's somebody breaking into your house or a spider walking across a sensor. Asking your mate to check it when he gets home from work isn't really going to achieve much. Sticking multiple CCTV camera up is one option, but a deployable CCTV camera like this is actually a much neater solution - even if the burglar does grab it out of the air and smash it, you still know it's a genuine alarm and can call the police or whoever. And the police will rightly prioritise a "burglary in progress" much higher than a "I've just got home from holiday and discovered I've been burgled*" call, where the horse has already bolted so to speak and - public expectation aside - there's very little justification for any urgency in the response over other more urgent queued responses.

      Or 'burglarized' as Americans obscurely seem to insist on.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Living in the box

        "Or 'burglarized' as Americans obscurely seem to insist on."

        Presumably you'd prefer the Frenchified "burglarised" ... or perhaps you're in favo(u)r of the broad bawdlerization of English vernacular in general, in which case good fucking luck communicating effectively with anyone in the modern English speaking world.

        1. NightFox

          Re: Living in the box

          No, just 'burgled'.

    3. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Living in the box

      Yeah, thieves never target the affluent.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bezos must be a fan of Pete Seger

    https://genius.com/Pete-seeger-little-boxes-lyrics

    And the children go to summer camp

    And then to the university

    And they all get put in boxes, and they all come out the same

    And the boys go into business and marry and raise a family

    And they all get put in boxes, little boxes all the same

    All your Amazon'd little boxes... sorry homes will look the same

    I'm surprised that Amazon hasn't put in a bid to buy ASDA nevertheless, Amazon is out to kill all retail including your local shops. Stop using them (amazon that is) before it is too late.

    1. zip119

      Re: Bezos must be a fan of Pete Seger

      Seeger sang the song; Malvina Reynolds wrote it.

    2. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: Bezos must be a fan of Pete Seger

      ....buy ASDA nevertheless, Amazon is out to kill all retail including your local shops...

      The likes of Asda, Tesco, Kingfisher Group, Arcadia are the ones that killed the local shops. Amazon ate killing those. I'd argue eBay is the small shops biggest enemy.

      1. TimMaher Silver badge

        Re: Bezos must be a fan of Pete Seger

        Trouble is; ASDA is now the subject of a takeover bid.

        That was just in news.

  8. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    Suggestions...

    How long after your discussion about the ageing red couch in the lounge will Alexa start making suggestions for replacements?

    My nasty suspicious mind associated "ageing red couch" with sex toy/anatomy enhancement (all kinds)/cheap viagra spam - before furniture replacements or, indeed, any "discussions"...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So you tell Alexa

    nosir, YOU tell alexa

  10. Roger Kynaston Silver badge
    Meh

    I find myself following a similar path with this sort of thing

    Initially - I'm not having any of that rubbish. Who needs a mobile phone/smart phone/voice assistant/Bezos spy/whatever

    Next - Oh well, perhaps they do have some use after all - lets try it

    Finally - How did i cope without that. I know that Jeff/Sergey/Satya/Tim now know everything I do but then they know everyone elses

    At present, I am in the process of applifying - got the iPhone cos it is a bit slicker than Android. Now I have tried a second hand MacBook because I like having BSD under the hood and I can put both Photoshop and zsh on the same computer. I don't have an Alexa and don't use Siri but I suspect that it is only time despite my protestations that I don't want to be spied on.

    In short, as the writer states, convenience and general apathy makes me fall into line with my digital overlords (no overladies I note)

    The only thing I am determined is that I deleted my facefail and will never sign up again. The Zuck is a step too far!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I find myself following a similar path with this sort of thing

      Where is your backbone man! Oh Amazon has a replacement for that...

      More people need to learn to say NO and mean it. This crap is just that, crap. How long will Bezos and friends support it? What happens when Big Brother stops responding? You are left with junk.

      It is just another mechanism for Amazon to spy on you and then try to get you to buy more (as another post has said) ticky-tack for your little boxes... sorry homes.

      Most of us don't need any more shit in our homes. We already have everything we need. Actually more than anything we really, really need.

      Posting AC coz I don't want anything from Amazon ever.

  11. Teiwaz

    Increasingly miniature spy drones for sale to the public

    Excellent idea

    Get them down to 'fly on the wall' size, and I'm sure they'll fly off the shelves, especially to cater to invasion of privacy, not just home invasion. Secret Police states like North Korea, upskirt and toilet cam fan regions like South Korea.....

    ...waiter, waiter. There's a spy cam drone in my soup.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Increasingly miniature spy drones for sale to the public

      "...waiter, waiter. There's a spy cam drone in my soup."

      :::shhhh:: ... Everyone will want one!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: waiter, waiter. There's a spy cam drone in my soup

      bbc.co.uk/news/av/technology-54327412

  12. This post has been deleted by its author

  13. xyz

    How marvellous!

    Although I prefer the traditional method of miscreant dispatch (rifle and excavator) which is much more fun, I'd buy one if it says "I AM THE LAW" and then opens fire.

    Amazon will probably just start selling burglar masks anyway to defeat their drones. You can imagine the web page already... People who bought this mask also bought a crowbar, gloves, bag with "swag" written on it.

  14. Fr. Ted Crilly Bronze badge

    Starzelius Verily...

    Where's Mitchell Courtney when you need him :-I

  15. charlieboywoof
    Black Helicopters

    Now give them the UK health service. Seriously.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stand your ground / shoot you down

    Scenario one - couple return from carnival - drunk / fancy-dress party, drone does not recognise them, they dont recognise drone, they do the things they do, drone streams steamy screamy creamy stuff. Amazon starts displaying "protection products" ads and police greet them with strange smile the next day - Couple puzzeled

    Scenario two - <prolly US specific>, Amazon makes "stand your ground" version and arms the drone, courts rule that this is legal. Scenario one happens with different results.

  17. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Sidewalk is a wonderful, clever thing

    > Sidewalk is a wonderful, clever thing

    Err, no and no.

  18. JDX Gold badge

    Sci-Fi

    Tech which knows all about your house and the people living in it is great for Sci-Fi-come-true (although the turbolift never misunderstands which desk you asked for) and has loads of benefits. But the problem with tech that knows all about you is... it knows all about you, and someone can break into it.

    You cannot have it both ways.

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