Still, last year’s pitch was that Astro would make home life more comfortable and entertaining—a sort of adorable, bumbling sidekick. This year, Amazon has recast Astro as a device with a much more serious mission: to provide another set of eyes on our pets, our homes, and our livelihoods.
As with any surveillance technology you invite into your life, using Astro will require an element of trust. This time, however, you would be extending that trust to a robot capable of moving through your home. That might seem like a small change, but makes a huge difference not only in how people interact with and view home robots but also in how involved Amazon is in our private lives.
Nevertheless, Maya Cakmak, an assistant professor at the University of Washington and head of the Human-Centered Robotics Lab, says Astro’s compatibility with other aspects of Amazon’s home surveillance ecosystem, Ring and Alexa, could well set it up for success. “Astro can provide these services seamlessly,” says Cakmak.