Amazon just released an AI-powered camera. But it’s not for you

The newest addition to the Amazon product line.
The newest addition to the Amazon product line.
Image: Amazon
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Amazon’s newest product won’t tell you a joke or turn on your lights.

The new DeepLens camera is instead custom-built for artificial intelligence developers, who will be able to build AI systems on Amazon Web Services and have them run on the camera, according to the company. This means the camera itself will be able to recognize objects, look for faces, or label what actions people are doing, all without needing to call back to Amazon’s servers.

Amazon Web Services has been a financial lifeline for Amazon, which notoriously ekes out the thinnest of profit margins. The cloud services business generated $4.6 billion in revenue in the latest quarter, up 42% from the same period a year earlier.

But as mobile processors get cheaper to manufacture, largely due to the smartphone boom, Amazon is anticipating a future in which much of the world’s computing doesn’t happen on large servers, but instead inside the cameras, smartphones, and other electronics scattered across the world that collect data. The DeepLens camera is a nod to developers that says, even if you don’t run your AI on a cloud, Amazon still has the software you’ll want to use.

But the camera still has some limitations; it can detect if there are faces in the camera’s sight, but to process who those people are, it will need to call back to an Amazon cloud service that’s already been trained to know specific faces.

The camera is available for preorder now, and costs $249.