Amazon is rolling out a new feature for the Echo smart speaker which transforms the Alexa-enabled device into a smart home security system.
Originally announced in December 2018, the rollout of Alexa Guard has been a gradual process. You may not have immediate access to the feature as the system still has to be made available to every user in the United States, but for those that can see the upgrade, Alexa Guard can bolster your home security while you are away.
Alexa Guard is free and is able to send users alerts via their mobile device if a problem at home is suspected.
The sound of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are registered, as well as glass breaking, and users can either opt to receive a notification or drop in themselves to investigate.
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The sound of a window or door being smashed may show you already have an unwelcome visitor. However, you can also set up your Alexa to manipulate your smart lighting system if the Echo is already connected to it -- such as Philips Hue, among others -- to turn your lights off and on to fool would-be burglars into thinking someone is home.
Alexa is also compatible with the Ring smart doorbell or ADT security system.
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In order to set up Alexa Guard, open up the Alexa app, navigate to the Settings menu, and select Guard. Once enabled, say "I'm leaving" to your device to switch to Away mode and a white light will indicate the command has been registered.
When you return, say "I'm home" to turn Guard off. You can also switch between each mode directly via the Alexa application.
There is no automatic way to make the switch -- yet -- but perhaps that will be possible in a future update.
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The Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Plus, Echo Show, Echo Spot, and Echo Input are compatible with the new Guard feature.
Alexa Guard is not a substitute for a fully-fledged smart home security system. However, when used in tandem with other products -- including ioT lighting, a video camera-enabled doorbell, and a smart fire alarm -- it can provide more peace of mind while you're away.
The general public has not been pleased with the Amazon Echo's eavesdropping or the inability of users to delete voice transcriptions, but in the right circumstances, listening in on your home could be of benefit to remote security.
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