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Robots are everywhere these days — from automated waiters zipping up to your table at a restaurant, to robot dogs (or Digidogs) rejoining the NYPD force after a temporary hiatus. The Roomba can clean your house, a Cue can teach your kid to code, and a Yarbo can do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to your yard work. But what about protecting your home from burglars? Yep, there are robots for that, too.
While there are several choices for traditional residential security and medical alert systems to keep loved ones safe, the concept of home safety robots and drones is quite new, and the options are more limited. Some are even available on a waitlist-only basis as companies roll them out to a small audience. We suspect that to change in the coming years, and that these types of devices will soon become ubiquitous.
Did You Know? Companies like Knightscope have high-tech security robots available for sale (for a pretty penny). They’re designed to cover large spaces, such as shopping malls and college campuses. They offer features like thermal detection (for fires or humans hiding in the shadows), 24/7 video recording, and license plate capture.
So what makes a robot better equipped to protect your home than the best alarm systems with sensors and cameras? What sets robots and drones apart is their mobility, which allows them to pick up more intel about what’s going on inside your home.
At this juncture, nothing can totally replace the one-two punch of security cameras and motion sensors, but these promising new devices do take surveillance up a notch. While the functionality of home robots will no doubt increase tenfold over the coming years, if you like being an early adopter, you should check out the following three products.
Arguably the biggest news in the home robot sphere is Amazon’s newly-released home assistance robot, Astro (a name that’s a nod to the family pet in “The Jetsons”). If you’re familiar with Amazon’s Echo suite of products, this home robot is basically Echo Show on steroids. It can play music, make video calls, set reminders, and all the other good stuff you’ve come to expect from Echo and Alexa products — but it also adds mobility and further integration into your home security system.
From the home security perspective, Astro’s best features are its ability to use machine learning to map the layout of your home (only one 3,500 square-foot floor plan can be stored in its memory at a time), and to identify family members through facial recognition. Once it knows your home’s layout and its visual ID software has been set up to recognize household members, your Astro can detect unfamiliar people. It can become your eyes and ears, so to speak.
The Astro also integrates with the Ring Protect Pro. It can be used as an additional (mobile!) camera in your Ring Alarm System and can save video to your Ring’s cloud storage. Additionally, if you’ve set up your Astro with Alexa Guard, it can detect the sound of a smoke alarm going off or glass breaking, and alert you of the activity.
The Astro has some other helpful home safety features that aren’t directly related to intruders. It can find you in the house to remind you about a kitchen timer (great for fire prevention!), and it can check on an ill or elderly family member while you’re out of the house.
The price point is definitely on the hefty side at over $1,500, but you may find it worthwhile for the Astro’s novelty and functionality.
This brand-new drone camera from Ring takes the whole mobility concept to the next level. Designed to be used only when you’re not at home, the Always Home drone flies around your property scanning for anomalies and unusual activity.
Like the Astro, it can only be trained to monitor one floor at a time, which for most people is their ground floor. You train it initially by walking around with it and setting a flight plan. You can set it to patrol a backdoor, a kitchen area, or another part of your home at regular intervals. You can also control it remotely if you want to check and see if you’ve left the backdoor open or your oven on.
While you’re monitoring, you can control it via your mobile device and have it pause and hover, or zoom closer to get a better look. Those capabilities alone make for a pretty robust home monitoring system.
If you’re not ready for the price tag that comes along with a machine like Astro, this little guy might be right for you. Think of it as dipping your toe in the robot sphere. If you watch their promo video, you’ll see how this cool device can perform surveillance, but also double as entertainment for your cats!
It integrates with Alexa, Google Home, and Apple’s Siri, so you can easily add it to an existing system. It adds value as an additional (and mobile) surveillance camera in your home, and even has facial recognition and pet recognition. Its floor plan mapping is a little less sophisticated than other similar products, so it may get tripped up a bit more. But for its size and price, it’s a way to sample this kind of device without too big of a commitment.
FYI: If you’re worried about the privacy element of a device listening in, all of these devices can be turned off with the touch of a button. Additionally, you can set no-go zones and completely control their range of access.
These home robots are definitely a novelty — the Astro can even amuse your guests by answering questions and playing requested tunes. In terms of home security, while they do offer the ability to see more while you’re not around, if you’re wondering if they’re absolutely necessary, we’d probably say no. That being said, more eyes and ears on your loved ones and your home is never a bad thing. Plus once Astro winks at you or brings you your favorite beverage, you just might be in hook, line, and sinker.