Amazon announces a slew of new products from indoor Ring drone to new gaming service Luna: A rundown
Updated: Sep 29, 2020
A Ring security drone for the home. Kid-friendly Echo Dots. Updated Wi-Fi 6-capable eero routers. And a brand-new cloud-based gaming service called Luna.
These were just some of the highlights from a packed 45-minute virtual press unveil Thursday, as Amazon announced a gaggle of new and upcoming consumer products.
A closer look:
*Ring home drone. The aforementioned drone is the indoor Ring Always Home Cam. Yes this thing will autonomously fly in designated areas of your house, which you can preset through the Ring app. It will also start flying, Amazon says, if motion is detected when you’re out and about.
In a nod to privacy, Amazon said this cam will only start recording when it is actually in motion, and is also built to be loud so that as one company executive put it, it is “privacy you can hear.” Ring is also adding end-to-end encryption on its videos.
Still, let me ask the question out loud? Are you ready to have a drone flying indoors, and not just because of privacy concerns but because you're worried it might crash into furniture? Presumably Amazon has conducted all sets of tests. In any case, you will have awhile to make a decision on whether to buy one, since the drone isn’t set to debut until 2021, at a cost of $249.99.
*Ring for the car. Amazon is also bringing Ring security to the car early next year, with products that will include a car alarm and car cam. If your vehicle is parked, the car cam can sound an alarm if an intruder tries to mess with it; you’ll get a notification so you can watch what’s going on from the Ring app.
Meanwhile, if heaven forbid you get into a crash while driving, Ring can automatically dispatch emergency responders to the scene even if you can’t call yourself.
And if you are pulled over during a traffic stop, you can say, “Alexa, I’m being pulled over” and recording will commence. Suffice it to say during these troubled times, such a feature may prove very beneficial.
Amazon is also launching an API called Ring Car Connect to allow automakers to harness the security systems that are already built into their cars and let customers receive alerts and watch video in the Ring app. Amazon announced that Tesla will be the first to take advantage.
The Ring car products will also launch in 2021, at prices between $59.99 and $199.99
*Echo Kids Edition. Amazon showed off a series of new Echo Dot smart speakers with spherical designs, including a new $59.99 model with an LED clock. But parents may want to choose the new Echo Dots Kids Edition, which feature cute Panda and Tiger designs that should appeal to the youngsters--and maybe mom and dad too. (See the picture above.) As with prior Dots aimed at the youngest members of the household, Alexa will answer queries in a more child-appropriate manner. These Dots will also include Audible books that are appropriate for your kids, plus skills from brands such as Disney, Nickelodeon and National Geographic.
Let me mention that among the other new Echo speakers that were introduced is the $249.99 Echo Show 10. It features a 10-inch HD display that turns to face you when you talk to Alexa. Hmm!
*Caring for a loved one. An upcoming Alexa feature may help people remotely care for aging family members. Care Hub, as it is called, can establish a connection between two Alexa accounts. So if a parent or grandparent, for example, needs assistance, they can say, “Alexa, call for help” and you as the caregiver can find out what’s going on and take appropriate action. You’ll also see an activity feed that tells you what your loved one is up to when they engage with an Echo or smart home devices. For that matter, you can also get a notification if your family member hasn’t interacted with a device by a certain time.
Amazon is also launching a service later this year called Guard Plus through which Alexa can connect you to trained agents who might put you in touch with doctors, police or the fire department as the need arises. You might even be able to scare off a crook using Guard Plus by asking Alexa to play the sound of barking dogs.
Guard Plus will cost $4.99 a month or $49.99 a year, following a one month free trial.
*Souped-up eero routers. Amazon unveiled new mesh routers from eero, a company it bought in 2019. These adhere to the latest connectivity standard known as Wi-Fi 6. A single new eero Pro 6 router is designed for a 2000 square foot home with Gigabit internet. An eero 6, on the other hand, can handle connections up to 500 Mbps and covers about 1500 square feet.
These routers don't come cheap. The pro model costs $229 for one, $399 for two, and $599 for three. The eero 6 fetches $129, $199 and $279, respectively. Why would you want more than one? When you strategically place these routers around your house, these boxes wirelessly talk to one another to reduce or eliminate internet dead zones.
*Amazon Luna. It remains to be seen whether the world needs yet another cloud-based gaming service. But here we have Amazon Luna, the company’s answer to Google’s Stadia and Microsoft’s xCloud. You’ll be able to tap into Luna on a smartphone, Fire TV, PC or tablet.
In building out the service, Amazon is leveraging the networking infrastructure of its AWS platform.
Amazon is charging $5.99 a month under "early access" pricing for the Luna+ channel. You’ll have to request an invitation.
Some 100 titles will be available, with an early access lineup said to include Resident Evil 7, Control, Panzer Dragoon, A Plague Tale: Innocence, The Surge 2 Yooka-Laylee, The Impossible Lai, Iconoclasts, GRID, ABZU and Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.
Amazon also announced a partnership with Ubisoft, letting gamers play the likes of Assassins Creed Valhalla, Far Cry 6, and Immortals Fenyx Rising on the same day of their release.
Amazons says Luna+ subscribers can play on two devices simultaneously with 4K resolution on select games. You can also play on Twitch.
While you can use a keyboard and mouse or Bluetooth game controller, Amazon is making its own Alexa-capable Luna Controller available for $49.99 during the introductory period.
Amazon hit on other topics during its press event. It reinforced its commitment to climate action and to privacy, and discussed how artificial intelligence is helping to make Alexa more conversational and able to take its cues from you. Indeed, with your permission Alexa will even be able to proactively act on hunches, perhaps turning on a robotic vacuum so you come home to a clean house.
Which (if any) of Amazon’s products you heard about today are you intrigued by?