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This Jeff Bezos-backed security cam is designed to scare criminals

Most security cameras are designed to look inconspicuous. Not Deep Sentinel. It’s downright menacing.

This Jeff Bezos-backed security cam is designed to scare criminals
[Image: courtesy Ammunition/Deep Sentinel]

Installing a smart security camera is like having eyes inside your home when you’re not there. But the device doesn’t do much–it might send you a notification if it detects movement, but in all likelihood, it’s just your cat wandering through the kitchen. If there is a burglary under way, it’ll be on you to see it through your cam and then report it to the police.

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That’s not the case with the new Jeff Bezos-backed security company Deep Sentinel, which sells a smart security system that uses computer vision to identify whether detected movement is just the mailman dropping off a package or a bona fide thief trying to sneak through the side door. If the camera’s AI hub determines that something is amiss, a red LED ring around the device’s speaker will light up, and the camera feed will live-stream to a Deep Sentinel security agent, who can then scare away the criminal through the speaker (and call the police). The entire system is designed to deter crime.

[Image: courtesy Ammunition/Deep Sentinel]
That includes the industrial design by the San Francisco studio Ammunition. The design is a departure for Ammunition, which is known for sleek, user-friendly consumer products like the Beats by Dre headphones, the Polaroid Snap camera, and a smart mug for keeping your coffee warm. In the case of Deep Sentinel, Ammunition was charged with creating industrial design that can serve two very different users: the homeowner, who needs the device to be easy to use, and the criminal, who hopefully finds it threatening. “This was different from many of the products we work on, which tend to be making part of life more pleasant or accommodating,” says Matt Rolandson, a partner at Ammunition. “This is a tougher, more emotionally charged, controversial part of life.”

[Image: courtesy Ammunition/Deep Sentinel]

Most new home security cameras–like Arlo, Nest, and Ring–have white casings and round, friendly faces that don’t stand out too much on your porch. The Ammunition team decided to make Deep Sentinel black because it projects a more professional, less cutesy, vibe. Instead of just one round camera, the device has a large speaker and battery mounted over the camera, with a red LED ring surrounding the speaker. The company’s logo, a black and white shield that Ammunition also designed, is emblazoned on the top of the speaker. With its two-barrel form, the device is almost reminiscent of a firearm. “The concept for the brand and industrial design had to be forward in terms of communicating that this [device] sees you, it hears you, and if it needs to, it’s going to deal with you,” says Rolandson. “That’s gnarly.”

The recent history of consumer technology has been focused on making gadgets as sleek and as invisible as possible–cellphones have progressed from chunky boxes to little more than a screen, and sensors that track your heart can now fit inside of a watch. But Deep Sentinel signals a new design approach, one in which technology is transparent–and aggressively so–about what it does.

Obviously, intimidating industrial design won’t be enough to discourage a determined criminal, which is where the rest of the security system steps in. But Deep Sentinel claims the LED has been an effective deterrent in at least one case. “The one incident we’ve caught so far were two girls TPing a customer’s house,” says Deep Sentinel founder and CEO Dave Selinger. “By the time we came to intervene, they’d seen the LED and run away.”

[Image: courtesy Ammunition/Deep Sentinel]

As for the device’s UX: It’s a consumer device that people install themselves so it has to be simple to use. The camera’s mount has a single screw, and includes a ball-and-socket joint to make easy to adjust the camera’s position. The Deep Sentinel system also includes a device called the Hub that sits inside the home, processing all the video coming from the camera and deciding which incidents are serious enough to send to the company’s security team. For someone concerned about the system watching them, all the cameras can be turned off with a tap in the Deep Sentinel app.

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Deep Sentinel will launch at the Consumer Electronics Show on January 8. The equipment costs $399, and surveillance service costs $49.99 per monthly subscription.

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About the author

Katharine Schwab is the deputy editor of Fast Company's technology section. Email her at kschwab@fastcompany.com and follow her on Twitter @kschwabable

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