Whenever Amazon holds a hardware event it invariably unveils some new device that it’s managed to squeeze its Alexa virtual assistant into such as a microwave or wall clock. This time, we have a rather pricey motorized robot called Astro that has Alexa baked-in with a periscope camera to help you monitor your home. For some reason, Astro reminds me of Microsoft’s Clippy for reason.
Amazon’s Astro robot is basically a touch display with a periscope camera to help you see above tables and counters and even check if you forgot to turn the stove off, with the power of Alexa to put your commands into action. Astro can patrol your home while you are away, sense smoke alarms and the sounds of breaking glass, notifying you when something untoward is detected. One useful purpose that I can think of is using the Astro to keep an eye on your kids or perhaps an elderly parent with health concerns, giving them 24/7 access to Urgent Response, a professional emergency helpline.
Besides receiving commands via Alexa, Astro can follow you around the house allowing you to pace around during video calls without being trapped in one spot. There are privacy issues whenever something with a camera is allowed in the home, but Amazon says that you can put Astro into a ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode which restricts the device’s movement. You can set certain areas or rooms as ‘Out of Bounds’ to the Astro, and switch off the microphones and camera features via a physical button. The camera also boasts an LED light to indicate when it’s streaming video or audio to the cloud.
Astro will go on sale later this year in limited quantities at an introductory price of $999 as part of Amazon’s Day 1 Editions promotion after which it will cost $1,499. You’ll also get six months of access to Ring Protect Pro bundled in with the purchase of the Astro.
What do you think of Amazon’s Astro robot? Is it something you might consider buying if it was more affordable?