If you’re never home for deliveries and have been waiting for a viable alternative to leaving packages with the neighbor or hiding a key under the doormat, then the launch of Amazon Key may be what you’ve been waiting for.
The premise is simple.
As a member of Amazon Prime (within the current trial area), you can now have your Amazon packages delivered inside of your front door by granting access to an Amazon courier and allowing your smart home security devices to take care of the locking and monitoring of your home throughout the delivery process.
For many people, the initial reaction to giving a stranger access to your home while you’re not there is likely to be one of scepticism, followed by a lot of questions around security and trust.
When you dig deeper though, the Amazon Key process has this covered with some intelligent integration of some of the best smart home locks and through the inclusion of Amazon’s very own smart home camera, the Amazon Cloud Cam.
On top of this, Amazon are including what they call the ‘Amazon Key Happiness Guarantee‘ which is designed to allay any fears around allowing this kind of access to your property when you’re not home, basically allowing you to make a claim directly to Amazon within 30 days if anything untoward happens during a delivery.
How Amazon Key Works
In terms of the actual logistics of installing the system and receiving your first deliveries, effectively the process goes something like this:
Device Purchase and Installation:
- You purchase the Amazon Key In-Home Starter Kit which includes one of Amazon’s Cloud Cam smart cameras along with a compatible smart lock (more on these below).
- When your devices arrive, you then either install them yourself or have it fitted by a professional for free by selecting the option at checkout.
Device Operation and Receiving Deliveries:
- As an Amazon Prime member, once you’ve set the system up and placed an eligible order on the site, the item will make its way to your delivery address. Upon arrival, Amazon will authorize the delivery, activate your installed Cloud Cam and remotely unlock your door to grant the delivery driver access.
- You’ll then receive confirmation that your package has been delivered and can watch the delivery live or view a clip of it after the event.
- When the delivery is complete, your door will lock behind the delivery driver.
Smart Home Remote Access Options
Being able to give access to third-parties has always been a huge selling point of smart door locks and Amazon Key is looking to capitalize on this be eventually rolling service integration for providing access to other qualified service professionals such as cleaners and dog walkers.
Access can be granted on temporary, recurring or permanent basis, making it a great solution for handling security around family, friends, or allowing one-time access for the cleaner with a scheduled date and time window.
Amazon Key or Bust?
Now, this access-granting smart home functionality is in no way new, and there are other devices out there – smart locks, smart doorbells, and of course, smart cameras – which allow you to work this exact functionality into your smart home setup by allowing third parties remote or timed access to your home in your absence.
For example, a setup including devices such as the best smart door locks (for example the August Smart Lock Pro) and smart video doorbells (like the Ring Video Doorbell Pro) would allow you instant notification (including video and two-way audio communication) with the courier or delivery person, as well as allowing you to remotely unlock and then lock the door for the delivery to be put inside the home.
So Why Amazon Key?
Well, one of the clear advantages with going for Amazon’s solution to smart home access is the fact that their whole operation is effectively built around the business of e-commerce – selling and then, of course, delivering goods to the customer.
This means that not only do they have the dedicated logistics chain in place to handle this kind of thing perfectly, but you’re going to get a high degree of accountability built-in to the service.
As well as this, Amazon has also invested heavily in smart home tech in recent years, for example with the ever-smarter Echo and Alexa family of smart home voice control devices and in doing so, are cementing themselves as a key player in the market when it comes to the integration and functionality of smart home devices in the automated home environment.
At the center of the Amazon Key system are two main smart devices that work in tandem to get the job done.
Firstly, the actual security and access granting capability is handled by one of several Amazon Key compatible smart locks which allow remote locking and unlocking of your door, either when an eligible Amazon delivery arrives, or for other people (such as service workers or family and friends) with a range of one-time. recurring or scheduled keyless access options.
Inside of your home, the second device comes into play, Amazon’s own smart camera, the Cloud Cam which is responsible for monitoring the entire delivery process as well as keeping an eye on anyone else who enters your home when you’re away.
The Smart Camera
As it stands, the Amazon Key system will initially only work with Amazon’s Cloud Cam smart security camera and while the range of compatible smart home security cameras may be extended further down the line, this is an important consideration if you’re looking into the system, either as a current or a prospective smart camera owner.
With that being, said, the Cloud Cam is a formidable competitor to many of the other best smart home cameras currently on the market, sitting on parity in some areas and even exceeding the specs of some other devices.
The role of the smart camera in any remote or automated smart home access solution is to automatically capture, stream and record any activity when detected by the camera’s on-board motion sensors.
In the case of the Amazon Key system, this visual archived record (as well as the live streaming capability) is the foundation for building accountability into the process of allowing access to your home.
The visual security element of the Amazon Key system takes the form of the Amazon Cloud Cam, a 1080p Full HD, smart security camera.
Equipped with night vision capabilities as well as two-way audio for communicating with whoever (think couriers or cleaners) or whatever (think pets) is on the other end.
When Cloud Cam detects motion or activity, you’ll receive notifications to your smartphone and can then check in on what’s going on in live view.
On top of this, you’ll be able to watch the last 24 hours of recorded video clips for free.
Being a native Amazon device, the Cloud Cam also works with Alexa, meaning you can simply ask an Alexa device such as the Echo or Dot to show your live feed on an Amazon visual device like a Fire TV setup or Fire Tablet.
The Amazon Cloud Cam also comes with a 30-day free trial of advanced features such as person detection and additional storage, as well as the ability to download and share captured clips.
The Smart Lock
Allowing remote access is crucial to the concept of Amazon Key, and this is handled by the integration of a smart lock system to allow a courier to deliver your items beyond the porch.
There are currently several smart lock solutions that are compatible with the Amazon Key system and while each of them effectively achieves the same end goal of programmable or remote locking and unlocking, the way they achieve this and the specific feature set of each differs slightly between models.
With a smart lock installed on the door (or doors) of your home, you effectively have the option to remove the need for a key when accessing your property, freeing you up to provide access to other parties on a single-use or recurring basis as and when required.
The best smart locks not only allow integration with external services like Amazon Key, but also allow integration with a whole host of other smart devices in your home ecosystem.
The SmartCode is a smart lock which is not only compatible with Amazon Key, but also works with Alexa to allow you to lock your door by voice or to ask for the current status of the lock.
Based on a keypad entry interface, the SmartCode provides the functionality to create up to 30 unique keypad codes for use by anyone who needs to access your home on a regular basis.
This smart lock also utilizes what Kwikset call SmartKey security, which is designed to protect against break-ins and allows you to re-key the lock in a matter of seconds if needed.Learn More About the Kwikset SmartCode Smart Lock Here
Yale are no strangers to home security, and the Assure Smart Lock from the company is looking to bring this pedigree to the modern smart home environment.
Offering up to 250 keypad codes to allow access for friends, family or trusted service workers (think, cleaners or dog walkers), the Yale Assure features a backlit touchscreen keypad for locking or unlocking your door without the need for a key.
When paired with Alexa, the Yale Assure will also allow you to monitor the status of your door lock as well as locking up using your voice.Learn More About the Yale Assure Smart Lock Here
If you already own a deadbolt door lock and don’t want to replace your locks entirely, the Kwikset Convert is the way to go.
Transforming your existing deadbolt into a smart lock, the Convert can be used to replace the interior hardware of your existing lock in minutes, leaving the exterior as is.
This functionality makes this a great choice if you’re currently renting and want smart lock functionality and will also allow you to keep the existing keys.
As with the other Amazon Key compatible locks above, the Kwikset Convert works with Alexa and allows you to check in on the status of your door lock using the Amazon Key App.
While not featuring a physical keypad on the device itself, the Convert can be unlocked or locked using a text-based authentication process with Amazon Key.Learn More About the Kwikset Convert Smart Lock Here