Amazon Astro

Alexa just got an upgrade...and a face.

If you’ve ever wanted a robotic assistant, you’re in luck as Amazon recently launched Astro, an Alexa-based, household robot. Astro is essentially Alexa with digital eyes and a rotating screen, equipped with the ability to move around your house on wheels to assist with various household tasks. Using Intelligent Motion, Astro navigates your home while avoiding furniture, people, and pets. Once Astro has mapped out your home, users can establish areas that are off-limits to the bot. Though designed as a home security robot, Amazon Astro can also assist with caring for loved ones, monitoring pets, or providing entertainment and other Alexa-command needs.

Astro is taking home security to the next level, with the ability to patrol your home while you’re out, giving you access to view all rooms, rather than providing live feeds from a fixed position like typical security cameras. With the Ring Protect Pro subscription, Astro will send you alerts remotely when it identifies an unrecognized person or notices unusual sounds, such as breaking glass or smoke detectors. Astro will also save video clips of the detected incidents in Ring’s cloud storage for up to 60 days. When joined with Alexa Guard, the bot offers emergency helpline calling or can sound an alarm when indoor activity is detected.

Secondly, Astro also works to assist you in checking on loved ones, who may live alone or be vulnerable. You can drop-in with video calls, prompt the bot to look for them, or have Astro send status notifications to caregivers. When paired with Alexa Together, you can send them medication reminders, check blood pressure, receive activity alerts, and also ensure they have 24 hour, hands-free access to Urgent Response.

The Amazon Astro is programmed to recognize faces and registered users, via Visual ID, meaning it can locate specific people to deliver reminders or if someone is calling. Additionally, if something is placed into Astro’s built-in cargo bay, Astro can deliver it to a specific person in the home. In the cargo bay are detachable cup holders that can be replaced with other options, such as the Furbo Dog Camera, omron blood pressure monitor, or Ziploc containers. The bot can follow specific users playing podcasts, shows, music or even video calls, while still keeping you in frame as you move. Astro can also send messages or set reminders, alarms, or timers. The robot assistant is designed to learn users' habits to make it more beneficial in daily use and uses its digital eyes and expressive tones to communicate with users.

Amazon says the Astro app will be a crucial component for the full Astro experience. The mobile app will give users access to Astro’s map, live view, or out of bound zones. This is also how users will receive alerts or notifications and also be able to navigate the home remotely. The app will display separate tabs for different rooms, viewpoints, and household members. Users will also have the option to stop view, start a live view, access a timeline, move between locations, access the camera or microphone, and even sound a siren when alerted of an unrecognized person.

Amazon states that users can turn off mics, cameras, and motion by simply pressing a button. When Astro is turned off, the bot is prevented from moving or capturing audio or video and a red light will be illuminated. When Astro is recording, the periscope camera will display a green light indicating that video streaming is in progress. Astro is available through invite-only preorder at $1000, going up to $1,450 upon broader release.

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