Amazon is shaping up to be the dystopian future company of our
dreams nightmares. Last night the company announced a whole mess of new tech, ending off its presentation with Astro, a little robot that follows its owners around.
It’s obvious that Amazon was going for a Wall-E/EVE sort of vibe, with a cutesy look that’s supposed to be endearing. But Astro’s oversized, dead eyes just bring to mind corporate horror and a scenario where it chases you down the passage while asking why you cancelled your Prime subscription.
Kicked in the Astro nought
So what exactly does the creepiest new addition to your home entail? Besides a size and profile that all but guarantee you’ll boot it across the room while sleepily hunting for snacks at 2 AM, it’s a roaming Alexa speaker that can see where it’s going. In the event that Astro can’t see over something, there’s a periscope camera so it can perform its secondary function — act as a security guard.
Besides the ability to respond to voice commands and trail along like the world’s cleanest puppy, a Ring Protect Pro subscription (there’s a six-month trial when you purchase an Astro) turns it into a patrolling robot, wandering your house at night and totally not doing anything suspicious while you’re sleeping. Which is where you’re most likely to put toes to plastic when you least expect it.
Security is obviously a concern, which is why Astro has a ‘do not disturb’ mode that lets you turn it off in the event you’re doing… heck, anything you don’t want a camera-toting robot intruding on. It’s also possible to set some rooms as out of bounds for the ‘bot, so your secret domino sculpture in the spare room remains safe from the predations of the robot uprising.
Just to be clear, you can’t have one yet. They’re available through invitation only at present, and even if you secure an invite, your own little porta-Alexa will set you back $1,000 (R15,000 or so). That price will eventually go up to $1,500 (R22,650), so Amazon’s obviously expecting a positive response to its mobile home assistant.