Amazon Brings Sci-Fi Reality to Home Security

Sept. 28, 2021
Product unveiling sheds light on potential disruptive products in the home security, smart home and PERS markets

While many “big tech” consumer-focused product unveilings are focused on entertainment and comfort, just about all of Amazon’s new devices and services announced during a special media-only event on Tuesday seemed to further strengthen the company’s foothold in security-related markets – especially home security, security monitoring, smart homes and PERS/aging in place.

From alarms, to drones in the home, to a named partnership with security monitoring powerhouse Rapid Response, Amazon is leveraging AI and other technologies to display “examples of our next big leaps forward – science fiction becoming reality,” according to Dave Limp, SVP, Amazon’s SVP of Devices & Services. “You will see how custom AI can make life even easier…and big shifts in the way customers will relate to technology.”

Not only did the event touch on what the future of home security may bring, it also serves as a measuring stick for current and future security industry development and marketing. Here’s the recap:

Home Security Introductions

Ring’s newest security products dominated much of the product introductions on Tuesday – and they even extended beyond residential into the commercial industry.

Ring Alarm Pro: Leading the way was Ring Alarm Pro, which is a Ring Alarm base station unit with a built-in eero Wi-Fi 6 router. The product enhances the original Ring Alarm (introduced in 2018), to offer both physical and digital security in one device.

“Ring Alarm Pro has alarms to help protect against break ins, motion detectors to alert you when something unexpected is on your property and fast and reliable Wi Fi connectivity,” Ring founder Jamie Siminoff explained during the presentation. “With a Ring Pro subscription, you get professional monitoring, protection against online threats to help keep devices safe with eero secure, and 24/7 internet backup, allowing all the devices that matter most – including security cameras, laptops, and yes, even that Xbox – to stay connected.”

Ring Alarm Pro also adds local video storage via 64GB microSD card. Available for pre-order, Amazon is offering product bundles starting at $249.99, and the Ring Protect Pro monitoring service starts at $20 per month per location.

Rapid Response-powered Video Monitoring: Amazon unveiled a new third-party subscription service, “Virtual Security Guard,” that provides professional visual monitoring of Ring outdoor cameras. The service will initially be offered by Rapid Response and will expand to additional providers in the future, the company said. “You can sign up today to get early access for free; after that, Rapid Response’s monitoring will start at $99 per month per location,” Siminoff explained.Commercial Offering: Available exclusively via Home
Depot, Ring will offer a security package leveraging the Ring Alarm Pro technologies branded for portable commercial jobsite security. According to Siminoff, in addition to the portable base station, included cameras can be wireless using battery or solar.

Autonomous Home Security Drone: Perhaps the coolest of the new security offerings is the Ring Always Home Cam, which is a flying, autonomous home security camera that provides a variety of perspectives from a single device.

“With this device, you no longer need to have a camera installed everywhere, since it can basically fly anywhere inside and give you the view you need when you need it,” Siminoff explained. “For example, when you are away, you can just press a button, and it will fly a pre-planned route and show you what’s going on. It can also be set to do routes based on a trigger event like flying to a door alarm sensor when it is tripped in away mode.”

Blink Devices: Amazon also introduced the Blink Video Doorbell, Blink Floodlight Camera and Blink Solar Panel Mount in the full DIY space.

Bringing Alexa to Aging in Place

Leveraging the growing number of (and acceptance of) Alexa voice-controlled devices in the home the company introduced “Alexa Together,” an aging-in-place service that includes PERS-like emergency response services. Integrated into the solution is an “Urgent Response” feature, enabling hands-free 24/7 access to a professional emergency helpline. It’s also compatible with third-party devices that can detect when someone has fallen at home.

Interestingly, the Alexa Together offering was announced at the same time as a panel discussion at the virtual Medical Alert Monitoring Association (MAMA) conference.

“These consumer type devices only help to keep driving awareness,” said MAMA President Daniel Oppenheim of Affiliated Monitoring. “We have such a small percentage of eligible seniors using PERS devices that we are not in some kind of zero-sum game where these new services would cannibalize market share – they only broaden the pie. If Amazon can raise awareness or potentially access a younger population, it is only a good thing.”

Chris Semple of investment management firm Crestline Investors said the new offering may be targeting consumers who may not yet need it: “There is a move to technology to make [PERS] more attractive to those who don’t want to wear a pendant around their neck. The concern (with Alexa Together) is people who have grown up with an Alexa in their house. How does the industry keep up with the younger generations that have grown up with a little more technology around them, [as opposed to] the current demographic that (the PERS) industry mostly serves?”

Other aging-in-place features of the product outlined include customized alerts for both caregivers and patients, such as medicine reminders or alerts to lack of movement or activity.   

Smart Homes

Smart Thermostat: Amazon is offering a cost-effective smart, ENERGY STAR-certified thermostat that works with Alexa to increase a home’s energy-efficiency. The $60 smart thermostat features Honeywell Home Thermostat technology and is manufactured by Resideo.

Ultrasound Motion Detection: Users will be able to enable Routines on Echo devices with user-activated ultrasound motion detection. The technology enables a device to emit an inaudible ultrasound wave through its speakers, which reflects off nearby objects before traveling back to its microphones. Alexa can then use this to automatically perform home automation actions, such as turning off lights or other devices when the home is empty.

Smart Hub with Facial Recognition: The Echo Show 15 is designed to be the digital heart of a home. Much like its security industry competitors, it includes a 15.6-inch, 1080p Full HD display and can be mounted on a wall or placed on a counter. The unit is built with the next-generation Amazon AZ2 Neural Edge processor, and it features facial recognition technology called visual ID.

Similar to functionality first introduced to our industry at CES 2021 in Nortek Control’s 2GIG EDGE Security and Automation Panel, after enrolling in visual ID, Alexa will recognize the user and the screen will create a custom greeting, personal reminders, calendar events, recently played music, or personal notes from others in the home.

Autonomous Robot: Astro was the dog in the old futuristic cartoon The Jetsons, but in the Amazon Smart Home, Astro is the robot. Designed to help customers with tasks like home monitoring, “Astro can move autonomously around your home, navigate to check in on specific areas, show you a live view of rooms through the Astro app, or even send alerts if it detects an unrecognized person. If you want to see if you left the stove on, or to confirm you have all the ingredients you need for dinner in the pantry while you’re still at the store, you can send Astro to check or use its built-in periscope camera to take a better look.

With Alexa Guard, the robot can also detect the sound of a smoke alarm, carbon monoxide alarm, or glass breaking, and send an alert to a smartphone.    

Paul Rothman is Editor-in-Chief of Security Business magazine. Email him your comments and questions at [email protected]. Access the current issue, full archives and apply for a free subscription at