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A series of 17 patents granted to Amazon for its Ring products over the last two years seems to suggest the company is working towards using the doorbell cameras for biometric surveillance purposes. The technology will be able to analyze people’s faces, voice, skin texture and smell.
Ring, Amazon’s doorbell and home surveillance business, is currently partnered with thousands of law enforcement agencies and departments across the US, and the company regularly aids in investigations.
Obtained by Business Insider, the patent documents hint at technologies capable of performing biometric identification.
Among the patents Ring was awarded: a patent for facial recognition technology integrated with a doorbell camera that recognizes faces and notifies the homeowner of who is at the door. Another patented technology for “Neighborhood Alert Mode” allows customers to send a notification to their neighbors if they detect a suspicious person, thereby allowing neighbors to prompt their Ring doorbells to begin recording. The patent uses biometric identification technology including facial recognition and scans of palms, eyes, gait, voice and smell.
Currently, Neighbors is used by both Ring users and its partner police agencies to share videos and information that could, in theory, help solve crimes. But the network and its law enforcement partnerships have been accused by digital rights and social justice groups of unfairly targeting communities of color.
According to tampafp.com, a patent granted in September 2020 is for doorbell camera technology that captures different parts of a person’s face and forms an artificial composite image based on the constitutive parts. The technology is intended to “aid law enforcement in capturing perpetrators of home burglaries and other crimes.”