Amazon is rolling out a new feature for its Echo smart speaker devices called Alexa Guard. Alexa Guard turns your Echo into a mini-home security device. It will listen out for noises like smoke alarms going off or smashed glass, and send alerts to your phone including audio clips and quick access to a video feed (if your Echo has a camera).
Following a beta test last year, the feature will soon be available to all Echo owners in the United States. You can start using it by enabling Guard in the Alexa app.
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The Echo listens for sounds like smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms and breaking glass. When detected, Alexa sends a notification to your phone and you can listen to audio clips immediately. If you are concerned, you can use Drop In to hear/see a live stream from your home.
To use Alexa Guard, you must remember to set Alexa to ‘Away’ mode every time you leave the house. This can be activated by telling Alexa ‘I’m leaving’.
This is probably the biggest drawback of the feature as it necessitates the user having to remember to activate heightened security mode each time they leave the house. There is no automatic option … yet.
As it implies your Echo devices are continuously recording to listen for sounds of danger, Guard is not enabled by default. (The recordings are processed locally and not sent to the cloud, the software listens for triggers in a similar way to listening for the ‘Alexa’ wake word.) US users need to go to the Amazon Alexa app, navigate to settings, scroll down and setup ‘Guard’.
Alexa Guard also works with connected security systems like Ring to automatically arm the alarm when you tell Alexa you are leaving. There’s even an option to make Alexa control your connected smart lights to make it look like someone is home, whilst you are away.
Amazon says that Alexa Guard is not a substitute for a home alarm system and does not have any capability to contact emergency services. “Smart Alerts are provided for informational purposes only”.