Amazon has turned on its Echo-based security system as of today, which means anyone who has an Amazon Echo device can tell Alexa, “Alexa I’m leaving,” and the Amazon devices will listen for the sound of smoke alarms and breaking glass. If it detects these sounds it will send you a notification, or if you have a monitored security service, it will send a notification to it.
As an added feature, Amazon’s Alexa Guard can also work with your Alexa-connected bulbs, switches, and outlets to make your lights turn on so it looks like you are home while you are away. This feature was promised last September when Amazon announced a huge number of new Alexa devices as well as its new Alexa-enabled chip module.
For those with Echo devices, there is no additional fee or monthly contract to use Alexa Guard. To enable the feature, open the latest version of the Alexa app, go to Settings, and select Guard to begin setup. Guard is not supported on third-party, non-Echo devices such as your Alexa-enabled smoke detector or light switch. This is somewhat of a bummer for folks who have Alexa and don’t want an Echo pringles can or hockey puck sitting around.
So let’s get to the details. To turn on the feature after you’ve set it up just say “Alexa, I’m leaving,” or use the Alexa app to set it to Away mode. When the user gets home they can turn off Away mode in the app or say, “Alexa, I’m home,” to turn Guard off. Whenever the status changes, the account holder can set it up so they will get a notification, which means if someone comes home and turns off the alert, they’ll be informed.
It’s important to remember that all the Guard feature does is listen for the sound of breaking glass and the sound of smoke alarms or CO alarms and send a notification. The notification will let you know if the sound was a smoke/CO alarm or glass breaking. There’s no traditional alarm or alarm service that’s part of Guard and right now you can’t hook one up. You can forward those notifications to a monitored security service if you’d like, and they can take action if that’s something you already pay for.
You also cannot forward the notifications to another phone. So the account holder is the only person who gets the notification, which means for families you may want to put the account in the name of the most responsive person. The Guard service currently works with the Ring monitored security and ADT’s monitored security services.
You also can choose lights that are part of the Works with Alexa program and have those turn on when you leave the home to enable Guard. This is great if you’re leaving but not great if you want Guard to listen while you are asleep because then you might have lights on during the night. Alexa Guard is not a supported action for Routines at this time which means you couldn’t set it up for bedtime use easily.
As far as security services, this isn’t a stand-alone option for people who are invested in having a formal security system that tracks windows and doors. But for a casual user, and really anyone out there with an Echo, having a system that keeps an ear open for a smoke alarm or glass breaking is a nice feature that might not convince someone to buy an Echo, but does add value to those who already have one.
It’s also a nice gateway to a more formal security system, such as the Ring System that Amazon also owns and sells. Once you get people thinking about security and gather data about the neighborhood’s safety it’s probably easy to convince someone to buy a bit more gear to feel even more protected. I’ll enable it and see what happens.