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Amazon Is Reportedly Building a Doorbell That Lets Drivers Into Your House (cnbc.com) 203

According to CNBC, Amazon is working with Phrame, a maker of smart license plates that allow items to be delivered to a car's trunk, to build a smart doorbell that would give delivery drivers one-time access to a person's home to drop off items. From the report: Phrame's product fits around a license plate and contains a secure box that holds the keys to the car. Users unlock the box with their smartphone, and can grant access to others -- such as delivery drivers -- remotely. The new initiatives are part of Amazon's effort to go beyond convenience and fix problems associated with unattended delivery. As more consumers shop online and have their packages shipped to their homes, valuable items are often left unattended for hours. Web retailers are dealing with products getting damaged by bad weather as well as the rise of so-called porch pirates, who steal items from doorsteps. Amazon also has an incentive to reduce the number of lost packages, as they can be costly.

Amazon Is Reportedly Building a Doorbell That Lets Drivers Into Your House

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  • by gillbates ( 106458 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2017 @06:53PM (#55345991) Homepage Journal
    So what could possibly go wrong with having the key to unlock dozens of upper-middle class homes in a delivery van whilst the driver grabs lunch?
    • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2017 @06:56PM (#55346005)

      How about putting a small "DELIVERY-ONLY" shed on your house, and the doorbell can only unlock the delivery shed (After scanning the package for that address)

      • by MAXOMENOS ( 9802 )
        Then of course, someone could break into the shed. :(
        • Ain't that many sheds (or places for them) in Manhattan.
        • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

          Shed, 10 ton safe, drop box, your choice. The delivery companies simply need to come up with a design they can sell. So a sheet metal box, well insulated, with more than one lockable compartment, say one large one down low and two smaller ones up high. An electronic wireless lock, which the driver logs into and unlocks the door, drops the package in and the door automatically locks again.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 10, 2017 @07:01PM (#55346043)

        Or a steel toolbox that locks when it closes. Put package in box, close box. But I suppose that doesn't need an app. Not sexy enough.

        • by taustin ( 171655 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2017 @07:39PM (#55346283) Homepage Journal

          The apartment complex I live in has boxes for package deliveries. They drop the key in your mail box. Not available to Amazon, though.

          • The apartment complex I live in has boxes for package deliveries. They drop the key in your mail box. Not available to Amazon, though.

            If these are physical keys, then unless they change the box locks frequently, a malicious neighbor could duplicate the key when he has a delivery and over time accumulate the complete set of keys.

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            I get most stuff delivered to my workplace. They handle their own mail anyway...

            • by chihowa ( 366380 )

              I used to do that for everything, but Amazon Logistics can't seem to find the loading dock (right next to the front door and typically adorned with UPS or FedEx trucks) and sends everything back complaining that the "address doesn't exist". I've seen the drivers wandering around in the lobby, not bothering to actually talk to anybody, then shrugging and leaving with the package.

              Leaving the package at home is fine as long as it's not easily seen from the road. Package thefts are crimes of opportunity and don

        • by infolation ( 840436 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2017 @07:48PM (#55346345)
          In the UK (and elsewhere?) Amazon have been installing metal lockers in local supermarkets. The lockers are different sizes to accommodate all packages and are opened with a one-time pin emailed to the parcel recipient.

          So instead of everyone needing their own individual 'shed', 'steel toolbox' etc, they can use Amazon's nearby lockable metal-shed for free.

          This makes a lot more sense to me than 'smart doorbells'.
          • They do that here in the US also, it's called (unsurprisingly, perhaps) "Amazon Locker". It used to be free but around a year or so ago I think they started charging a fee for using them.
            • In Canada you can have them ship it to the nearest post office, which is usually a pharmacy or corner store within walking distance from your house.

            • in the bay area, the lockers are pretty common. at 7-11 stores and supermarkets.

              a benefit: if you deliver to a locker and change your mind, after 3 days they pick up the unclaimed item and refund you, you pay nothing, not shipping to or from (if you have Prime). for things I'm not sure about, I might order and have it locker-delivered and I have 3 days to decide if I really want that thing or not.

              at my apt. complex, they also have lockers and will email you a code for opening the locker. problem is, its

        • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

          It would need to be some kind of jam-proof locking mechanism. Even then, the thief could lock the box and return later to retrieve the parcel from the porch.

          • It would need to be some kind of jam-proof locking mechanism.

            I've seen door locks that use magnets to secure the door. The idea is that the lock has no moving parts and anyone with tools to defeat the magnet (it's a powerful magnet) has tools to destroy the door. A power outage may be a problem but that's either not common enough to matter or managed with whatever backup electricity you'd want to have anyway for the security system. A thief capable of inducing a power outage to defeat the locks and the cameras is capable of doing anything they please, you can only

        • "But I suppose that doesn't need an app. Not sexy enough."

          OK then, how about we connect the lock to a IOT device that monitors all the traffic on your home net (and any unprotected wifi servers it can get to), packages up the data, and sends it back to our servers? It also unlocks the box if the delivery guy (or anyone else actually) waves a smart phone at it. You, however have to type a 17 character random one-time code into the device to get your stuff out of the box. Is that sexy enough to get funding

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Couldn't you just use a box and leave an undone padlock?
          The delivery guy puts the package in the box then puts the padlock on.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          "Delivery boxes" like that are not uncommon in Japan. Panasonic make them, among others. You can get ones with a camera built in so you can see the person putting stuff in there and the contents.

      • Well a shed would be a LOT more money than a doorbell. And depending on what it looks like, a lot of communities have restrictions against putting up sheds and stuff like that. So I can certainly see the advantage of a doorbell.

        But I'm just not sure who would actually want this. Perhaps if it were for a potentially trusted person, like an apartment complex's doorman (though I'd imagine in a case like that, they'd have a better place to put your package and the doorman can just give it to you as you come bac

        • Well a shed would be a LOT more money than a doorbell.

          You don't need a shed. Just a metal box on your porch, maybe 50cm cubed. Drill a few holes in the bottom and bolt it to the slab. This is enough to handle 90% of my deliveries. Currently, it has a close-to-lock lid, so it is only good for one delivery per day, A smart-lock that could handle multiple deliveries would be nice.

          I have a motion triggered camera on my porch that records anyone coming or going. I suppose I could still be robbed, but it would be far easier for a thief to go to my neighbor's h

          • You could augment with a "kibble dispenser" that's triggered at the same time you send the delivery person a message that "the dog will be distracted for the next 7 minutes or so ... please don't dawdle."
            • You could augment with a "kibble dispenser" that's triggered at the same time you send the delivery person a message that "the dog will be distracted for the next 7 minutes or so ... please don't dawdle."

              I initially thought you'd go in a different direction with "kibble dispenser" involving a tasty treat for the delivery person.

        • But I'm just not sure who would actually want this.

          I wasn't sure who would want an always-on listening device in their home either, but evidently many people enthusiastically embraced the Echo and the like.

          I think the same way about it as you, but don't underestimate the ease with which a disturbingly large portion of the population will happily trade privacy and/or security for convenience.

        • Well a shed would be a LOT more money than a doorbell.

          True, but regarding potential theft, the contents of that shed will be the parcel, while the contents of your house are the contents of your house.

      • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

        Or a porch bench with an electronic, cryptographically secure lock.

      • by taustin ( 171655 )

        It's easier to have stuff shipped to here at work. I don't know of a single coworker who has stuff delivered to their home.

      • How about putting a small "DELIVERY-ONLY" shed on your house, and the doorbell can only unlock the delivery shed (After scanning the package for that address)

        Why do people need to make changes to their houses? If this is such a big problem for Amazon, they can open up physical stores for item pickups (they are already rolling this out in a limited way). Of course, this then nullifies the convenience factor and would see people returning to their local stores instead. Sorry Amazon, the price of your market gains is that your deliveries will get stolen now and then. No way should people need to add a shed or allow strangers to walk into their houses to accommodate

    • What could possibly go wrong with the current model... where your hypothetical delivery driver, leaving his hypothetical truck with a hypothetical key has just given thieves dozens of packages and a tool thatâ(TM)ll back through the wall of any timber frame construction, defeating any lock you can design, just fine.

      Outlier chances will always happen. But itâ(TM)s about risk vs reward.

      In exchange for ten thousand less packages stolen from doorsteps, costing Amazon maybe $1m... one delivery driver i

      • Costs are passed down through pricing. UPS will price accordingly, and Amazon will pay more. The buyer will, in turn, pay more for the "free" shipping since Amazon isn't going to eat increases longterm.

    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2017 @07:49PM (#55346355)

      So what could possibly go wrong with having the key to unlock dozens of upper-middle class homes in a delivery van whilst the driver grabs lunch?

      Anyone with a screwdriver can break into a house. The reason home burglaries are relatively rare is not that getting in is difficult, but that the risk/reward ratio is unfavorable. Modern homes just don't have that much worth stealing. Used TVs and computers are not worth much. Since everyone has CCs, there is little need to cache cash. Nobody uses real silverware anymore. Meanwhile, cameras, sensors, and alarms are far more common.

      • Anyone with a rock can break into a house

        FTFY.

      • by Viol8 ( 599362 )

        A screwdriver? What kind of windows does your house have?? I don't think any for the last 50 years have been so badly built as to have the screws on the outside! Ditto the doors.

        But as another poster says, you can hurl a rock through the window but that would probably be heard and someone would call the police before you could even clear the glass and get in.

        "Nobody uses real silverware anymore"

        You might not have any, plenty do. And to a drug addict even a fiver for some electronic gadget down the pub is be

    • The postman always rings twice :-)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I just don't need that level of convenience in exchange for having strangers in my home. It creeps me out more than a little. Maybe there is a market for this, but nobody I've talked to would even consider it.

    • A few years ago, my then-neighbors were selling their house. As part of the process, the realtor set up a weekend open house where people could swing by, walk through the house, ask questions, etc.

      A week after the open house, the neighbors went away for a few days. At one point during their trip, my wife noticed a pickup parked behind their house. She thought that was odd, so she walked over to ask them what was going on. The guys said they were hired by $family's_name to do some work... but two minutes aft

    • As I commented the last time this daft idea came up the simple solution is to have a secure delivery box. The one time key opens the box only and this way you are only risking the contents of the box - which unless you have multiple deliveries will be nothing - and not the entire contents of your house.

      Nobody in their right mind is going to let some random stranger they have never met before into their house while they are away and it will cause huge problems for Amazon because if anyone notices somethin
      • by e3m4n ( 947977 )

        Its not the contents of the house that concerns me. Its the integrity of the delivery driver. Since the inception of homeland security, there have been multiple TSA agents arrested for groping children. There have also been thousands of accusations of rape / sexual assault involving Lyft and Uber over the past two years. I really don't trust _anyone's_ screening process enough to give that person the keys to my house. There are a lot worse things that can happen to somebody other than someone managing to g

  • by starblazer ( 49187 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2017 @06:56PM (#55346007) Homepage
    Amazon drivers pilfer customers homes while delivering.
    • Even worse: criminals find security hole in system and rob hundreds of homes.

    • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

      Amazon drivers pilfer customers homes while delivering.

      Those are the dumb crooks. The smart crooks slip a hundred bucks cash to a delivery driver in exchange for "accidentally" not quite closing certain doors.

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )
        That would make the driver an accomplice to the crime... and you'd even know exactly who to press charges against.
        • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

          It could (potentially) be harder to prove, though. The timing of deliveries wouldn't allow somebody to do much more than steal obviously visible property, but a later return by somebody else would allow for much more significant theft, and the fact that the driver couldn't possibly have done it in the time available would lend plausible deniability, at least until they catch the people who actually committed the thefts.

    • by Ksevio ( 865461 )
      They prefer to label it as "creating new buying opportunities"
  • Already There (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nick_davison ( 217681 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2017 @07:03PM (#55346053)

    I needed a car towing about a hundred miles back home. Most tow drivers need you to ride with them so you can receive your keys back at the destination. I needed to remain where the car had broken down and a two hour tow plus a slow and expensive Uber back would have sucked.

    Because of home automation, I was able to send the driver with my keys, watch him pull up and unload my car, then open the door for him to drop the keys inside, watching him the whole time, before locking the door behind him.

    I was out five minutes of my time vs four hours.

    Yes, âoeIOT security!â Lots of panic. Systems are exploitable. You could get robbed.

    But no matter how secure the locks on a house, a thief can go through the windows. Put bars on the windows and a thief can drive a stolen truck clean through your wall.

    Someone determined enough is going to get in. But theft deterrent is always about making your neighbor a more appealing target and you not worth the hassle.

    IOT locks donâ(TM)t change that by any perceptible amount. There will always be edge case hacks but few and far between, not the norm. Plus I have multiple other layers of security so the door is only one small part.

    In exchange, I got four hours of my life back that time and have a bunch of other similar stories of the convenience that more than outweighs the very slight additional risk.

    • Re:Already There (Score:4, Insightful)

      by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2017 @09:12PM (#55346781) Journal

      Um, in my world I'd have just said "when you get to my house, push the keys through the mail slot".

      No internet required.
      Total cost of equipment maybe $10 for the mail slot in the door.

      Seriously man, why overcomplicate things?

      • Seriously man, why overcomplicate things?

        Because adding complexity means justifying buying toys.

      • by gregsv ( 631463 )

        Or even, "Lock the keys in the car when you drop it, and when I get there I'll grab the second set from where I keep it to unlock." Total cost $0.

    • It's one thing when they kick in your door or smash a window to get in . . . . .
      But when you invite them in willingly, it's a different story.

      They're not going to do anything obvious while you have remote eyeballs on them. If they are of questionable character, however, they most certainly are going to be taking mental notes of what gear you have, the layout of the house, indications of pets or a spouse and what obvious security mechanisms you have in place.

      They will then pass that info on to their buddie

    • I was out five minutes of my time vs four hours.

      Four hours is not a lot of time for a rare event such as your tow story.

      Someone determined enough is going to get in. But theft deterrent is always about making your neighbor a more appealing target and you not worth the hassle.

      Hence the phrase "locks are for honest people". But with the Internet-based lock system (most likely running on proprietary/non-free software the user does not own and exclusively control because they bought an amazon.com kit/service) t

    • I needed a car towing about a hundred miles back home. Most tow drivers need you to ride with them so you can receive your keys back at the destination.

      What?
      Keys go with car. If that's a mechanic then you collect when the car is fixed, if that's home then leave the window slightly open and drop them in the car (or letterbox, or in meter box, or under a shrub, or rock, or...). This is a non-problem.

      Yes, âoeIOT security!â Lots of panic. Systems are exploitable. You could get robbed.

      Not panic, just sharing the opinion that the risks are far more than any reward, therefore the idea is stupid.

      In exchange, I got four hours of my life back that time and have a bunch of other similar stories of the convenience that more than outweighs the very slight additional risk.

      Again this is a non-problem. I get packages dropped off on my front porch no issue. My local supermarket also offers a collection service (get stuff del

  • WTF (Score:3, Insightful)

    by war4peace ( 1628283 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2017 @07:09PM (#55346079)

    How about "not leaving the parcel wherever the fuck the delivery dude feels like"?
    Before delivery, contact the recipient and establish a time window when they (or someone they empower) are home. Then go and deliver the parcel during that window.
    Owner's not home? Coolio. Notify them through text or whatever and have them go to the local pick-up warehouse.

    Somehow this method works very well in most of EU. In my country, the delivery company has to provide proof they delivered the parcel into my hands, otherwise I could file a claim and they would have to pay for the declared value of the parcel. I'm simply amazed this is not a thing in the USA.

    • I much prefer to not have to go somewhere out of my way to pick up a package. I'd rather just go straight home from work. Why make me go somewhere to get it when the package was literally already AT MY HOUSE?
      • Because you AGREED with the delivery person on a date and time and you weren't there.
        Or have it delivered at a neighbor, at work, etc.
        Or even have it thrown on your lawn and support possible consequences.
        Your choice :)

    • Notify them through text or whatever and have them go to the local pick-up warehouse.

      Welcome to the United States, where the local pick-up center is an hour drive away.

      • So? If you weren't there during the agreed pick-up period, be ready to drive for an hour. Maybe next time you'd fulfill your part of the agreement :)

    • For expensive deliveries, I just ask the shipper (e.g. amazon) to ship to my office instead of home and then add a delivery notification so that I know when to head up to reception and thank them for helping out. Total added cost is a few smiles and maybe a cookie every once in a while.

      For routine deliveries, FedEX [fedex.com], UPS [ups.com] and USPS [usps.com] all have the ability to leave them with standing instructions, such as "leave on side porch", "leave with neighbor", "I'll pick up from your office", etc., FedEx and UPS will also

  • Liability (Score:4, Funny)

    by pubwvj ( 1045960 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2017 @07:10PM (#55346083)

    Amazon, of course, is up to date with its liability insurance premiums...

  • I have never had a problem with people nicking the packages left on my doorstep. And even if I did, I wouldn't feel any better about giving some complete stranger the ability to enter my home completely unsupervised. What I do get is them just leaving a note for me to collect it from the post office whose opening hours are utterly incompatible with times I can get there, but that's not enough to make me willing to just let the driver into my house unattended either.

    Either way, my preferred solution is to ge

  • What could possibly go wrong?

  • and that just with renting a car par with lots liability issues.

    The Into Your House part as well.

    And this can make it easier for delivery drivers to steal stuff / fake deliver just open door and don't put package in.

    At least with UPS and USPS they do background checks don't hide under an network of 1099 subcontractors

  • by Calydor ( 739835 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2017 @07:38PM (#55346275)

    As I said a few weeks ago:

    What about pets? Will they make sure to keep the door closed so the cat or dog doesn't bolt? Will they refuse to enter the house if there are pets?

    What about grabbing something small in the fridge or elsewhere in the house? Does everyone have 360 degree surveillance in every room of their house now?

    What about disputing the purchase if you don't get the things you bought? Something missing, wrong items etc.?

    What about delivery guys taking pictures with their phones while they're in your house to, off the top of my head, either shame you on the net for old appliances, dirty dishes in the sink etc., or maybe to plan a future burglary now that they have ACCESS TO YOUR HOUSE to look around?

    What about just doing your grocery shopping yourself? Is the world really so stressed now we can't do that?

    • Not to mention some of the other disgusting things that a person could do if they are alone in another person's house. Especially if it's a guy delivering something to a house a woman lives in.

      • by Cederic ( 9623 )

        Not to mention the poor delivery driver having to come into my house when I'm.. well..

  • by DatbeDank ( 4580343 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2017 @07:43PM (#55346307)

    I'm not going to let strangers into my home. X1000 I will never let a delivery person into my home when I am not present.

    I can, however, grant permission for them to drop stuff off in a small outdoor closet that can be securely opened by the delivery man. Whether I decide to build such an addition and not fill it with junk in storage is left to be seen!

    Had a very expensive clock stolen off of my porch once. I can only imagine all of the little items that would start to go missing if I let delivery people into my home when I'm not there.

  • All those Echo Shows will keep an eye on the deliverymen.
  • by Snotnose ( 212196 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2017 @08:11PM (#55346487)
    Leave the package by the door,. let my cam catch any porch pirates. Let some Amazon drone into my house? Oh hell no. Not gonna happen.
    • First an always-on, internet connected camera pointed at your bed. Now a method to allow random strangers to enter your home. Amazon, we see what you're doing. And we don't like it.
  • Many residences have garages with automatic doors. For a small incremental cost, one can install a remote control with keypad that accepts a code to open the garage door. A delivery person could be asked to place the package in a marked cardboard box in the garage and close the door.
  • Growing up on a farm in the US Midwest we had this room we called a "porch". Now it would more likely, and more accurately, be called a "mud room". It was a small unheated room on the house where one door would go to the outside and another to the kitchen. In this room was a closet for coats and boots, a large couch like bench where the seat would flip up to reveal storage space where we kept toys for outdoor play, and just generally storage for stuff of little real value. It would have been trivial to

  • About delivery, damage or return issues

    In fact they don't even want the items back, because that would mean they have to do something.

    I think their current policy is say keep the item to the customer and depose of it as you see fit!
    They then credit the customers payment, and reverse the payment to the seller who is out the item and the cash.
    So it is the store owner who completely looses out.

    Check this out, I don't think Amazon took the loss!
    Couple admits to stealing $1.2 million from Amazon [usatoday.com]

    But
  • But I would use the key for say a lockbox or some such.

  • delivery drivers one-time access to a person's home to drop off items

    can be done by driving right into the person's home at 100mph to drop off say items. Unfortunately, it is also a one-time access as the car would then be stuck half way in the person's home.

    • delivery drivers one-time access to a person's home to drop off items

      can be done by driving right into the person's home at 100mph to drop off say items. Unfortunately, it is also a one-time access as the car would then be stuck half way in the person's home.

      This is such a false equivalency.. A delivery driver in a marked van, walks up to your house, opens the door and enters.. That's equivalent to driving a vehicle into the house's wall how? Yeah, no differences at all. Nobody would notice one over the other. They are both equal in drawing attention because delivery drivers are as ubiquitous as fast driving vehicles smashing into houses..

  • Back in the early '50s (and probably for decades before that) my grandparents' house had a delivery box, mainly for milk.

    This practice originated in the time when refrigeration was absent or iffy, so milk was delivered fresh, sometimes daily, by a deliveryman who typically came by before the occupants of the house were up for breakfast.

    In their case the box was a somewhat-insulated compartment, about 14" by 14" by the thickness of the wall, between the outside (adjacent to the driveway) and the "mud room" (

  • 50 years ago, many houses had “milk compartment”, a small box within the wall, with one door outside the house and another inside in which the milkman would leave the milk bottles (and take the empties).

    To this day, many apartment houses have an official postal lock whom the mailman uses to get in to put the mail in mailboxen.

    So, what’s to prevent the same from being used by Amazon?

    Or better, for big items, the house vestibule could be used, with another lock fitted on the inside door to

  • In Italy you have the "Fermo Posta" where packages are to be picked at the nearest Post Office, and is mandatory for C.O.D. over a certain amount of cash. normal price for the service id 3 €, but for amazon and possibly other book stores on-line is free.
    There are also the "locker" that are automatic and placed in a lot of malls that are working like this.
    Book store chains are also offering the service in their physical book stores, you order the books online and collect them in a bookstore.
    This is
  • ...Amazon product I have no interest in and will never buy or use, right up there with Alexa and their awful tablets and phones....

  • .. welcome our new home security add-on. As we all know, companies never fail with their efforts to make hack-proof and secure systems. The bigger the company, the better security right? I mean no company would ever expose millions of its customers to potential harm! (yeah, that was all sarcasm).. For the sake of having Amazon deliver a package into your house instead of leaving it at your door, would people really add this to their house?! Comparing this to a thief with a screwdriver who can break into yo
  • "Amazon Is Reportedly Building a Doorbell That Lets Drivers Into Your House"

    In other news, Amazon has been smoking crack if they think I'm ever going to use this under any condition.

    Sorry, I'm just not a big fan of letting random strangers enter my home and wander around when I'm not there.

  • "Amazon Is Reportedly Building a Doorbell That Lets Drivers Into Your House"

    My front porch and living room floor aren't built to support the weight of most vehicles and my front door is only wide enough for a motorcycle.

    Either that, or this story is about yet another security problem with the internet of things and smart doorbells updating their own software without permission.

  • That's all I have to say. I live in a gated community. You deliver shit to me? You go to the gate, so that the sec guard call me to get authorization from me to enter. Then you drive. Then you knock on my door, and, unless you are delivering a fucking refrigerator or something, I'll grab the stuff, tip you and close the door. You ain't gonna get pass the door.

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