Not everyone works on a schedule that allows them to be home when delivery packages arrive. Unfortunately, the courier's usual method of leaving such packages on doorsteps is often an invitation for theft. Amazon might have developed a solution.
Starting Nov. 8, Amazon delivery people will be able to open the doors of people in 37 cities, enter their homes and leave their packages inside. The new program is made possible by Amazon Key -- an app-driven lock and camera system.
According to USA Today, the delivery works like this: a background-checked employee uses an app to send a message up to Amazon's cloud, which generates a one-time code to a smart lock. The employee can then activate that code, which is not shown, to unlock the door by pressing a button on the app. The code expires after five minutes.
Employees open the door just a crack and have to confirm that they've locked it before leaving. In the event that they do not, the door automatically locks after five minutes.
The entire process is overseen by Amazon's Cloud Cam in-home security system; customers can watch the footage during or after the delivery.
The service will be free for all Prime customers, though they must purchase the Cloud Cam and smart lock -- at a starting price of $249. Customers can choose to either install the system themselves or have an Amazon employee do it for free.
Reuters reports that the delivery system has been in development for over a year.
"This is not an experiment for us," said Peter Larsen, vice president of Amazon's delivery technology. "This is a core part of the Amazon shopping experience from this point forward."
Customers will still be able to choose traditional delivery even if they install Amazon Key, USA Today reports.
While the popularity of Amazon's new service remains to be seen, some have their doubts. Amazon has talked of eventually extending the Key to third parties who might not follow the same background check practices.
"I think there's a lot of unknowns there," consumer technology researcher Ben Bajarin told Wired. "I recognize that they've identified a pain point. I applaud they're trying to solve it. I'm just not sure this is the one people are ready for yet."
Still, others have pointed out that several other tech companies seemed invasive at first, but were eventually embraced by consumers.
Technology investor and Inside.com CEO Jason Calacanis told CNBC that Lyft, Uber and Airbnb were able to outweigh security concerns with the convenience of their services. He sees no safety concerns in Amazon's new system.
"Anybody who uses this who's a delivery person who had bad intent -- they know how the system works," Calacanis said. "You'd pick a different target if you were actually going to create a crime, I think."