Emergent Tech

Internet of Things

Knock, knock? Oh, no one there? No problem, Amazon will let itself in via your IoT smart lock

1-Click king's one-click entry

By Thomas Claburn in San Francisco

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To keep thieves from stealing packages, Amazon wants to open your front door so it can drop off stuff inside.

The e-commerce and cloud behemoth on Wednesday introduced Amazon Key, a service that allows Prime members in certain cities to surveil and remotely open their homes.

Amazon envisions Key as a way for customers to authorize its delivery people to deposit online orders inside residences under video scrutiny from absent occupants, or to grant access to family, friends, dog walkers, cat herders, cleaners, contractors, and the like.

The service consists of the Amazon Key App (requiring iOS 9.0+; Android L+; or FireOS 5.0+), Amazon Cloud Cam (Key Edition, $140), an Amazon Key-compatible smart lock (presently from Kwikset or Yale), and a video storage plan (ranging from free to $20/month).

The complete Amazon Key In-Home Kit is available for 250 US dollars.

On the off-chance something goes awry, the service also includes something approximating insurance, called the Amazon Key Happiness Guarantee.

"If any Amazon Key in-home delivery was not completed to your satisfaction, or your product or property was damaged as a direct result of the delivery, we'll work with you to correct the problem," the biz said.

Discretion

Amazon at its discretion may choose to correct a service not completed to satisfaction, to refund the cost of a purchase and pay for up to $2,500 in property damage, or to help file a claim against the service provider's insurance.

While other vendors already offer the ability to remotely unlock a door via some IoT kludge, Amazon's involvement has the potential to simplify aspects of the transaction. The Seattle-based 1-Click empire has the distribution clout to put its app in the hands of delivery drivers, thereby ensuring that additional information can be conveyed as needed.

For example, drivers can be informed through the app of any access codes needed to bypass barriers between the street and customer front door, such as an apartment complex gate.

Homeowners and renters may worry about inviting unknown individuals inside, but Amazon insists those delivering its packages "are thoroughly vetted, with comprehensive background checks and motor vehicle records reviews."

In other words, all the safety of Uber, but where you live. Sure, some delivery drivers go bad, but how often does that happen?

Amazon offers a few caveats, such as advising pet owners not to use in-home delivery if a pet can reach the front door. It's not immediately clear whether the Amazon Key Happiness Guarantee would cover medical costs for gnawed couriers.

Also, Key isn't presently integrated with security systems, so alarms should be disabled prior to in-home delivery.

Left unaddressed is the possibility of security vulnerabilities, not exactly unheard of among IoT devices or mobile apps. However, would-be burglars are probably more likely to kick down a door or smash a window than to try to crash a smart lock. ®

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