When Amazon's executive director Jeff Bezos promised in 2013 that drones would soon be flying anywhere delivering packages, a miniature camera whirring through houses and recording video was probably not what people had imagined.
But on Thursday, Amazon's Ring division revealed the $ 249 worth of Ring Always Home Cam, a small drone that hums as it flies through homes filming everything, supposedly for security reasons.
Amazon also introduced new Echo devices, a cloud gaming service called Luna, and other products. But the home security drone stood out. The company's promotional video highlighting the camera showed a burglar breaking into a house and being scared when the drone flew straight at him – "Oh, no!" he exclaimed – while the homeowner watched the encounter on his phone.
"Oh yes," proclaimed the ad.
The response to the surveillance drone was spirited – but not as Amazon had hoped.
"In a country with no laws regulating digital privacy, anyone who buys this from a company with a history of privacy issues is insane," tweeted Walt Mossberg, a longtime tech reviewer who serves on the News Literacy Project's nonprofit board .
Ring said the drone could be used to check if a homeowner had turned on the stove or left a window open, promising it would only record while in flight. It would also make a buzz so it would be clear when filmed. However, privacy was still the number one concern for most of the baffled Twitter users.
“An internet connected drone camera for your home owned by Amazon. This is definitely not going to be a privacy nightmare * at all *, ”one person tweeted.
"A scary step into the future of technology?" posted another Twitter user, Khoa Phan. "As if it were cool, but always scary at the same time. Obviously there are some privacy concerns at Amazon. But what is the next step after that, if this is just the beginning?"
A disclaimer at the end of Rings blog post announcing the drone said the device was not authorized – and may never have been authorized – by the Federal Communications Commission. Ring said the drone will be available next year, but not “until approval”.
As for Mr Bezos' plan to have packages delivered by drones? Back in 2013, he said that this could happen within about five years. So far it hasn't.