(Pocket-lint) - You could pay hundreds or perhaps thousands for a smart home security system. Or you could just use the Echo device you already own.
Amazon has a new Alexa feature, called Alexa Guard, that allows your Echo device to listen for potential signs of an emergency. It's in the process of rolling out to existing and new Echo owners in the US. If you’re the type of person who has a hard time enjoying a holiday away, mostly because you’re worried about what’s going on at home, this new feature could help put your mind at ease.
Here's how it works.
What is Alexa Guard?
It's straightforward: What if the Echo speakers in your home could detect threats and then help make you instantly aware of them? That's the whole point of Alexa Guard, a new Alexa-powered feature that uses the existing far-field microphones in Amazon Echo devices to closely listen for glass breaking or the sound of alarms coming from smoke or CO detectors when you're away from home.
Alexa Guard can also switch your smart lights on and off, mimicking your normal usage to make it seem like you’re at home.
How to enable Alexa Guard
Enable Alexa Guard
First, you have to enable the feature in the Alexa app on your iOS or Android.
- Open the Alexa app.
- Go to Menu (three line icon) > Settings.
- Scroll down and select the Guard option.
- It'll ask you to confirm and enter your zip code to use the Away Lighting aspect.
Note: The Alexa app uses your zip code for Away Lighting, so it can smartly turn on your lights when it's nighttime in your neighborhood.
How does Alexa Guard work?
Activate Alexa Guard with a voice command
Once you've enabled the feature in the Alexa app, say, “Alexa, I’m leaving” to your Echo. This will switch Guard to Away mode, and then it will send Smart Alerts to your phone if it hears something like a smoke alarm or the sound of glass breaking. These notifications will include an audio clip, so you can hear for the noise yourself. You will also be given the option to Drop In on your Echo device.
In order for Alexa to accurately identify the sound of a window shattering, Amazon said it had a team break hundreds of different types of windows with objects like crow bars, hammers, bricks, and more. Using machine learning, it was able to teach Alexa how to listen and recognise these types of sounds so that it can better understand when to alert you of a potential break-in or hazard.
Which Echo devices support Alexa Guard?
The following Amazon Echo devices support Alexa Guard:
- Amazon Echo (all generations)
- Amazon Echo Dot (all generations)
- Amazon Echo Plus (all generations)
- Amazon Echo Show (all generations)
- Amazon Echo Spot
- Amazon Echo Input
Will Alexa Guard work with security systems?
Yes. Alexa Guard can be set up to work with your existing home security system. It works with Ring, ADT Pulse, and ADT Control security systems. In fact, if you have a professional monitoring service through Ring or ADT, you can forward Smart Alerts to your security company.
Is Alexa Guard free?
Yes. Alexa Guard is absolutely free to use.
When will Alexa Guard be available?
It's already live in the US.