Amazon Key is a new service that lets couriers unlock your front door.
Critics have lobbed some harsh accusations at one of the world’s largest online retailers: they’re the evil empire, they’re taking over, they’re telling you what to buy and how to think. Now, Amazon is about to blow all that criticism out of the water in order to make room for what is possibly the weirdest retail service yet: Amazon Key.
This service (for Prime customers only) relies on a couple of factors. First, you must have a compatible smartlock on your entryway door, which is a handy idea anyway. Next, you must have an Amazon Cloud Cam, which is where things get strange (more on that below). The deliveryperson arrives on your stoop with your item, scans the bar code, waits for approval which activates the Cloud Cam inside the house, and Amazon sends the deliveryperson a code to their smartphone which enables them to open the smartlock. They place your package inside your door, close the door, and the lock secures your home once again.
Now, before we go dismissing this with an Uber-style “what could possibly go wrong” scenario, there are merits to this kind of service. Consumers who live in apartments or heavily trafficked areas might enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing their $400 smartphone isn’t sitting in an Amazon-emblazoned box on the stoop for six hours. As Amazon has already become a go-to source for more and more “necessary” items like insulin needs, you can’t risk having a thief steal your medical supplies, hoping it’s actually high-dollar electronics.
There’s another reason why Amazon Key might be taking off at this time: there have been well-founded rumors that Amazon may be getting into the online pharmacy space. It’s simply not feasible to leave a box of prescription medications, which in the US can cost more than a typical family’s weekly grocery budget, unattended on your front porch.
That aforementioned creepy camera aspect, though, is a sign in a different direction that Amazon is investing even further in the smart gadget space for home and work. While so far other companies have produced products that Amazon can sell–like the smartlock or Phillips smartbulbs, for example–the Cloud Cam is Amazon’s own product, which speaks to a new sphere for the tech and retail giant.