Brave New World of Home Deliveries Has Arrived

Amazon rolls out 'Key' service, allowing strangers to enter your home
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 25, 2017 1:43 PM CDT
Brave New World of Home Deliveries Has Arrived
Amazon is launching its 'Key' service, which allows deliveries into your home when you're not there.   (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)

Amazon has been working on ideas about how to foil "porch pirates," and on Wednesday it unveiled a service to do just that—by removing the porch from the equation. The only catch is customers will have to be OK with giving a delivery person access to their front door. The system, called Amazon Key, uses a combination of a "smart lock" and a security camera to allow delivery drivers to drop a package inside the door. Here's a look at the details and reaction:

  • How it works: Customers buy a $250 kit that includes the camera, called Cloud Cam, and the smart lock. The system allows the delivery person to open the door (with a knock first) and drop off the box, and the customer gets notifications and can watch it on video live or later. Amazon has an explainer here, along with a video of how it works. The drivers are from Amazon itself, not UPS, FedEx, etc.
  • Dog walkers: For now the service applies only to Amazon package deliveries, but the company plans to expand it so customers can order dog walkers, house cleaners, and other such "home services" to arrive when they're not home. This could get dicey, notes Wired, because it means allowing yet more strangers into your home, and ones not directly vetted by Amazon.
  • Nuts and bolts: Amazon Prime customers can pre-order now, but the service won't start until Nov. 8. For now, it will be rolled out in 37 cities, and the list is here. If you have pets that can reach the front door, Amazon discourages the service. And those with home security systems would have to disarm them for deliveries, notes USA Today. The system works with Yale and Kwikset door locks.

  • Leap of faith: A post at Gizmodo raises the obvious worry: "The company is putting a lot of trust in people by means of technology" because tech can be unreliable, as can actual humans. "Nevertheless, the company hopes you’ll look past these two truths and just hand over the keys."
  • Big digital brother: The Verge observes that customers who sign on will be giving Amazon yet more information about their lives and habits. This "feels like a major test of how thoroughly the company has earned customers’ trust, and a harbinger of a future where tech companies mediate every aspect of our lives," writes Ben Popper.
  • Give it time: Security concerns are understandable, but investor and CEO Jason Calacanis tells CNBC he thinks people will eventually shrug them off. After all, similar concerns about Airbnb, Uber, and the like also surfaced initially. "There's definitely going to be a learning curve and a behavioral change, but humans are very good at adapting to this."
(More Amazon stories.)

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