Alexa Has New Security Features
September 17, 2018
Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa, has been competing head to head against the Google version, Google Assistant. Alexa, which works with any Amazon related device, such as the Echo, provides a variety of useful features and information to owners. Now, it appears that Alexa can do even more in terms of security coverage.
Home security has become a standard feature among virtual assistants, and it appears that tech companies have taken notice; especially Amazon, who announced the latest features to grace Alexa at a recent expo. These include the Alexa’s security camera applications, Alexa Guard noise detector, Alexa Hunches, a doorbell feature, and a lighting feature which is part of the Guard app.
Alexa Hunches and How it Works
Alexa Hunches is one of the latest advancing efforts by Amazon to make Alexa more humanlike in her thought processing. Not only has she become a more effective speaker, answering users more like a conversationalist than a machine, but she’s also able to compute discrepancies in common behavior or actions.
Alexa uses her hunches as part of the revolutionary new security system by providing users with insight on missing steps in standard security routines. For example, if you forget to lock the doors and you say goodnight to Alexa, she may notice that this step in your usual bedtime routine has been missed and recommend that you lock the door. If Alexa has access to your locks and alarms, she may do this for you. Similarly, if you forget to turn off the lights, television, or computer screen, and Alexa has access to these devices, she may switch them off after reminding you of your mistake.
The Alexa Hunches program is meant to replicate the “hunch” that a human might get if something weren’t quite right. Like a gut feeling, only less literal.
The New Alexa Guard Security Feature
Alexa Guard sounds like a new Amazon security system, and in a way it kind of is. Any Echo enabled device can use the Alexa Guard feature to detect possible dangers in and around your property. It does this by listening for noises which could signify a burglar, or even a gas leak. A fire alarm, carbon monoxide alarm, the sound of a car alarm, a glass window breaking, or a door being pried open, all alert Alexa to tell you, the user, that something is up.
The great thing about Alexa Guard is that you don’t even have to be at home to benefit from it. Alexa Guard works for individuals who spend time away for work, are on vacation, or left the house for a few minutes to pick up the kids from school. Alexa will make you aware of any possibility of fire, gas leak, burglar, or other trouble by sending an alert to your mobile device.
Along with the notification that something’s up, you’ll also receive an actual audio recording of the sound that caused Alexa’s unease. This allows you to determine if it’s something you’ve heard before and wouldn’t worry about. For example, if you know that the drain pipes knock around when it’s windy and Alexa picks up the sound as a possible break in disturbance, you might recognize the sound and know it’s nothing serious. On the other hand, a completely novel sound could put you on guard and be what saves you from a problem at your home base that could have otherwise gone unnoticed.
What can you do if your Alexa Guard goes off and it’s not something you recognize to be a normal-at-home sound? Alexa Guard integrates its security system with ADT and Ring, which means that you can easily send the alert to your security company at the push of a button. Turning on Alexa Guard is as simple as telling Alexa you’re leaving the house.
Alexa Guard Lighting Feature
Another feature of the Alexa Guard service which helps protect your homestead is the integrated light feature. Connected to your lighting through the smart home/smart lights tool, Alexa makes it appear to potential burglars that your home is occupied. When you’re away at work or on vacation, Alexa intermittently turns lights off and on to create the appearance that someone is around even when the home is locked and empty.
A neat part of the lighting feature is that Alexa uses your own actual light patterns to create the intermittent affect. Rather than just turning things on and off willy-nilly, it creates a natural pattern by focusing on the number of times different lights changed during your daily routine.
The Security Camera Project
Alexa isn’t just protecting the house by sending sound samples and flicking a light switch, it also shows you what’s going on inside your house while you’re away through ongoing security camera footage. This footage comes from a variety of applications, including Arlo, Ring, or even Cloud Cam. Whichever service you’re most comfortable with using, Alexa will control it while you’re away.
You can even get specific with your camera footage, telling Alexa to show you what’s going on in the garage, at the front door, or at an upstairs window.
Doorbells No Matter Where You Go
Want to know when a package arrives, if the sitter got there on time, or when the nosey neighbor rang your doorbell? The doorbell chime feature on Alexa now lets you know when your smart bell gets rung at home. It sends the chime to your mobile phone and any other Echo-synched equipment you own. So, whether you’re in the shower, out at the movies on a date, or at the office, you’ll know someone was at the door.
These are just a few of the updates Amazon has made to Alexa and the Echo devices. There are sure to be more in coming months, although whether they’ll be security related has yet to be seen.