An Amazon “Cloud Cam,” part of the online retailer’s kit enabling in-home delivery. Source: REUTERS

Amazon Key plans to deliver packages right into your home

AMAZON continues on its crusade to become ubiquitous in the lives of their customers by introducing a new smart home system that will allow for safer deliveries and less hassle.

Unfortunately, it also entails allowing strangers access your home.

Amazon Key is the latest innovation out of Jeff Bezos’s technology empire, and it works in tandem with the recently released Cloud Cam, and a compatible smart lock, reported The Verge. The camera acts as the overall control mechanism for your home, and will talk to the lock through a wireless protocol called Zigbee, a commonly used software in smart home devices.

Currently, Cloud Cam works with locks from two established brands, Yale and Kwikset.

Couriers can scan the barcode on their package against the Cloud Cam, which will then grant permission for entry Amazon’s cloud verifies the code. The courier is then prompted on their smartphone app, which then alerts the camera to let unlock the door. After the courier has dropped off their package, the door is then relocked with another swipe.

For their peace of mind, customers will get a notification of the completed delivery, along with a short-video to confirm everything was above board.

The emergence of Amazon Key comes a dozen years after the introduction of the Amazon Prime membership, and its free two-day shipping service. Since then, Amazon has brought on board various delivery options to make the deal sweeter for their consumers, and to draw them into the massive Amazon-branded ecosystem. There have been lockers located in convenience and grocery stores, and drone delivery trials.

With Key, Amazon is going one step further to solve one of the most basic and complicated logistics issue: what happens if no one is home?

The entire system will work off whatever the e-commerce giant learned from building the Alexa device ecosystem and its applications in smart home systems. The camera really is just a straight-up, security system, but integration with the Alexa operating system and could help further spread the net the company has over individuals’ homes. Currently, the system is only available in the United States, with a launch date planned for Nov 8.

The Key bundle will cost US$249.99, and include the smart lock, the Cloud Cam, and installation services. After installation, customers can choose in-home delivery options at checkout on Amazon’s site, and it’s free.

So let’s get to the question at the heart of this: will consumers buy it?

There’s something a little unsettling about letting a total stranger into your home, largely unsupervised. In as much as Amazon is building in security features, at the end of the day, trust is going to be a huge factor that will decide whether or not Key lives or dies. Key deliveries are currently handled only by Amazon’s own courier teams, but according to The Verge, there are hopes that the service could eventually be farmed out to third party-services in order to make it more widely available.

Amazon’s Cloud Cam and its Key app. Source: Amazon

Amazon has spent the last 10 years building on its brand and its image as a trusted service – definitely not burglars who can intrude on your home.

Key comes complete with a host of built-in protections like notifications of the courier’s arrival, live streams of the courier, and instructions to deliverers to avoid actually entering the home.

However, delivery of products is just one part of the whole pie. Amazon doesn’t just want to be where you get your groceries, they want to be part of the consumer lifestyle. There are reportedly plans to integrate Key with over 1,200 service providers, from cleaners to plumbers and dog walkers.

Much in the same way the Alexa voice assistant aimed to get involved with how you go about your day – from weather checks, to music and event organization – Amazon Key is part of a greater strategy to integrate the technology giant in every aspect of your personal and home life. The convenience and integration are huge factors, and they place Amazon ahead of other smart home developers such as Google’s Nest.

However, what’s clear is that Amazon Key could serve as a bellwether for just how much control consumers are willing to put in the hands of mega tech corporations.