Amazon showed Astro – a “home robot”: a device on wheels with a display, a set of sensors and a camera. The camera is mounted on a telescopic support so that the Astro can record events at different heights. Amazon presents Astro as an engineering breakthrough and a science fiction dream come true – a smart home assistant.
But, perhaps, this is an overly bold definition. As good as Astro is, its physical capabilities are clearly limited. He is not equipped with any manipulator; the maximum impact on the surrounding reality, which he is capable of, is to stumble upon an object at a height below the knee. Astro will not climb the stairs – worse than that, if he falls off, he will commit suicide. Well, numerous gadget critics emphasize that he definitely will not bring beer to the owner.
Nevertheless, there is definitely a benefit from it. Firstly, with its help, you can finally solve the problem of forgetful people: to understand if the iron, gas stove, or some other dangerous device is turned off. Secondly, Astro (assures Amazon) is equipped with a facial recognition system and can raise the alarm if it decides that it “sees” in front of itself intruders who sneaked into an empty house. (True, gadget critics believe that this function does not work well for him.) He can play the role of a night watchman and monitor a serious patient – especially when paired with medical monitoring devices.
Of course, you can simply equip the house with video cameras, and then Astro seems completely useless. But it still moves and costs relatively little – $ 999. It is unlikely that you will be able to find a “smart” video system much cheaper.
And further. Astro is very important to Amazon. The company has a concept of combining a network of sensors – both video cameras, microphones, and digital assistants – into an integrated smart home network. She hopes to be able to fully organize the client’s life, provide him with amenities – ideally, just for a monthly fee. If you add to this the Prime delivery service, which also works for a monthly fee, it becomes clear that Amazon is going to make money every minute of a customer’s life.
Americans, and not only Americans, dislike Amazon for all sorts of transgressions – mistreating workers, attacks on labor unions, tax evasion – but they continue to consider it one of the most reliable companies.