In a world of ever-expanding technology, keeping an eye on the house when you’re away from home has never been so easy or so affordable. Now, customers can choose from a whole range of automated devices and robotic security systems that allow you to see what’s happening in your living room from the other side of the world, all at the touch of a button.
So what’s the difference between a security robot and a simple CCTV camera? Furthermore, with so much choice available, which home monitoring robots are worth investing in?
Tech-enthusiasts might argue over the exact definitions, but we’d suggest that a security robot is a machine that can in some way respond in an automated, AI-enabled, or pre-programmed fashion to its environment, rather than being just a static camera lens.
Today, each model we look at comes equipped with a range of automated, intelligent features, making these tools more sophisticated than just CCTV cameras or basic recording devices.
So what might these features be, exactly? Why might a security robot prove to be a safer bet for your home than a standard security camera? And what factors should you bear in mind when on the look out for your perfect home monitoring assistant?
This is probably the main feature that distinguishes security robots from their static CCTV cousins. Many products advertised as home ‘robots’ come with the ability to roam around your house, or even your yard if the model is equipped for the outdoors.
Some robots can be pre-programmed to patrol set routes. Others can be controlled manually via your phone app, much like an old-school remote-controlled car! The most advanced tech available right now can navigate through your home automatically, sensing obstacles and steering a path around them.
The advantage of all this? Well, whereas a simple security cam can only give you a video feed of one particular angle, a roaming bot can in theory allow you to see anywhere and everywhere in your home, perfect for people who want to be able to look at different rooms without having to install separate cameras.
Of course, a potential downside of being able to roam about the house is that such robots can’t spend their life conveniently connected to an electrical outlet. All roaming bots on the market need to return to their charging station at some point in order to ‘refuel’. The amount of time a bot can remain active in between charges varies largely from model to model, ranging from a few minutes to a few hours.
Depending on the type of security you’re looking for, charging times and charge capacity could be an important factor to consider.
Another feature of security tech popular with many home owners is two-way audio capability. This allows you to speak through as well as listen via your security robot, ideal for when you want to relay a message to your children, say hi to your pet, or spook an unwanted visitor!
Premium robots are becoming impressively good at differentiating between humans they recognize and humans they don’t, as well as working out who might be the family dog and who might be an unwanted intruder. In addition, automated bots capable of navigating your home without manual control can sometimes do so by sensing obstacles and steering expertly around them.
As you might expect, the more impressive your robot’s ability to differentiate between objects and steer independently, the higher the price-tag is likely to be.
Gone are the days when only the rich or tech-obsessed could afford to invest in a robotic friend to guard the home. Developments over the past two decades have meant that home-robotics are an increasingly affordable prospect for many families and individuals. Let’s take a look at 5 of the most promising models currently gracing the market.
Billed as a tough, tiny, and intelligent robot companion, the Moorebot Scout is powered by AI algorithms and advanced sensor technology.
Built by a small and dedicated team of robotics engineers, this product is aimed both at a general home audience and at more enthusiastic tech owners who like to tinker. The Scout, in addition to its core functionality, comes with a whole host of customisable options, from programmable patrol paths to Open Source software allowing robot-heads to code and experiment with their own programs using C/C++.
The Scout is programmed to recognise objects during its automated roaming and can be controlled via the voice. Like many security robots, it’s also been designed to be compatible with Alexa and Google Home.
At just a few inches tall and a few inches wide, this is one of the most discrete bots on the market. However, it’s built to withstand tougher terrain in a way that many of its competitors just aren’t.
Four wheel drive and durable, Mecanum wheels make it well-placed to navigate rough carpet as well as dirt and short grass. It’s also one of the few home robots that come with waterproofing as standard, allowing it to patrol outside as well as indoors.
As with most security robots worth their price-tag, the Scout comes with 2-way audio and night vision. Prices currently hover at around $169.
The only static security bot on our list today, the Eufy IndoorCam is a good option for those looking for affordable home monitoring with some of the impressive functionality of a pricier roaming bot.
The Eufy IndoorCam comes with motion detection, whereupon it can notify you and start recording as soon as something unusual comes to its attention. An activity zone function also allows you to determine areas of the room which you wish the camera to class as ‘out of bounds’, alerting you, for example, if the family pooch jumps up on the sofa.
Two-way audio is also featured and you can store recorded video either locally, via an SD card, or in the cloud for an extra subscription fee.
Individual cameras can cost as little as $45.
Returning to security robots that roam, the EBO Air is a popular new model on the market with a smooth, gentle design. You can steer it manually through your home via the app or set it to cruise around automatically.
Enabot try to market their robots as having something of a human touch, allowing people to stay connected with loved ones even when they’re not at home themselves. Whether you use it for this, as a pet monitor, or as a roaming security cam is up to you. It does come with certain features meant to entertain pets, such as making small noises, and can be instructed to follow both pets and humans around the house.
It’s also frequently praised for its quiet movement, making it as unobtrusive as possible when journeying around the home. Sensors mean it should be able to avoid unexpected obstacles as it travels about.
Prices start at around $250.
Advertised as the world’s first flying home security camera, this device from security cam titan Ring is designed to work best in conjunction with some of their other alarm systems. If the drone senses unusual movement in the house through one of its companion monitors, it can take off on an aerial patrol.
This flying security cam can levitate through up to 50 pre-programmed flight paths, giving you all the advantages of a birds eye view that other ground-dwelling bots just can’t match.
The downside? Well, it can only fly for around 5 minutes before having to recharge, meaning this is a product designed to carry out brief sweeps of a property rather than ongoing monitoring. If you’re looking for an around-the-clock live-feed through which to keep an eye on the cat, this probably isn’t the product for you.
Finally, no security robot review would be complete without mentioning the Amazon Astro. The tech giant has developed what if often viewed as the most premium security robot for the home market currently available to consumers, though it’s worth noting that only a select few customers on Amazon’s Day 1 program are able to order the Astro right now.
Still, expect to see this versatile home companion on general sale very soon. It comes with a whole host of impressive features, combining practically everything you would expect from a premium security bot – facial recognition, automatic roaming, high levels of customisation and programmability – with the handy tools of Alexa. It also comes with two-way video capability, making it a great option for those who want to be able to speak face-to-face with either their pets or relatives at home.
Amazon is billing their cutting-edge robot as being much more than just a moving security cam. It currently comes with a price-tag to match its impressive range of functions, sitting at $1600 for those invited to order it for their home.