Amazon Key: The Next Home Security Problem?
Does their new delivery service threaten homeowner’s safety?
Picture the scene: you’re out of the house. At work. On holiday. Perhaps seeing friends and family. No one's in at home. The doors and windows are locked. It may be daytime. It might be night time.
A complete stranger appears, manages to unlock your front door and step over the threshold. Whilst inside, they walk around your silent house, perhaps stepping over your kid’s toys, passing by the photos on the mantelpiece. They set down a package on the stairs. Your house is still quiet.
The stranger then leaves, locking the door behind them as if no one had entered.
Does this sound disturbing to you?
You may have been reading in the news recently that Amazon is going ahead with their new Amazon Key system.
Advertised for Amazon Prime members, this system will allow couriers to directly access your home via a key activation on your doorstep. As such, they can then pop your package down at any specified point INSIDE your own home.
Shocked? So is everyone else.
It’s fair to say that Jeff Bezos’ latest idea of innovation has certainly turned homeowner's heads. Perhaps not for the best reasons, however.
How does Amazon Key work?
The Amazon Key uses a combination of a smartphone app, a home-security camera and a smart lock system. Once they’ve scanned in the specific package to confirm its drop-off, couriers will now be able to unlock your house via the app,
Users of Amazon Key will then receive a notification on their mobile when a delivery driver has arrived. The plan is that they can then choose to watch the delivery live on their phone due to the smart camera on your doorstep.
The head of Amazon’s delivery technology, Peter Larsen, spoke about the new system, stating: “Amazon Key gives customers peace of mind knowing their orders have been safely delivered to their homes and are waiting for them when they walk through their doors.”
“Now, Prime members can select ‘in-home delivery’ and conveniently see their packages being delivered right from their mobile phones.”
A Brilliant Innovation or a Disturbing Look into the Future?
Amazon believes they can avert fears of miscommunication and mistakes by verifying that the right driver is at the correct address with the right order using their own encrypted system. The details of how they can officially clarify this are, as yet, unknown.
There has been lots of discussions already about how invasive this new system could be to homeowners. Amazon is clearly continuing its quest for innovative breakthroughs in delivery service, getting your orders to you faster, smoother and more eco-friendly.
Whilst this is admirable, Amazon Key will be - quite literally - a step over the line for some in terms of home privacy.
A home is a home. Your home. This type of service invites problems – they’ll start to see patterns of your lifestyle, the periods in which you're in and out of the house, what you’re doing and when you’re likely to be back …
Steps have clearly been put in place to prevent such problems arising. However, it is difficult to see this service running smoothly for homeowners, just like Amazon's plans for their 'Prime Air' service.
A More Important Use for Homeowners?
The online giant also noted that the Amazon Key system will be a device that is compatible with other services such as dog walkers or cleaners. Homeowners will be able to grant them access when not at home.
Now whilst these services might seem trivial, too, there could be a much more important integration for homeowners: the Emergency Services.
There is an infinite amount of possibilities when discussing the crisis at home. However, this system could prove itself extremely valuable in these moments.
Imagine a pregnant partner needing emergency help from certain labour pains or scares, but physically she cannot get up to let a midwife in. She could send the text, the emergency service could arrive and notify you as the homeowner, from which you could then unlock the door for them.
This is just one example. There are thousands of other scenarios that might need emergency attention and therefore immediate access to your home would be required.
Amazon may not have that particular view set in its sights right now, but the technology is there for significant development in these areas.
What Could Amazon Key Bring to the Property Industry?
As a straight answer: lots.
For example, there are common struggles for surveyors during the house moving process.
Deciding on a time where they can arrive to inspect your home can be an issue, as many homeowners do not want surveyors turning up at random times to evaluate the property.
Instead, surveyors would be able to notify the homeowner when they have arrived – should the owner not be at home. The homeowner would then be able to verify that it is indeed the surveyor through the cloud camera. Therefore, they could easily let the surveyor in from elsewhere. This is in comparison to the usual process of having to organise specific times and making sure they’ll have the right keys etc.
The Many Possibilities ...
Whatever the case, Amazon Key is an interesting development for homeowners.
Be sure to keep an eye on this technology, as it might be making its way into your home sooner than you think!