On our latest IoT Podcast episode, we take a question that Keith left on our IoT Voicemail hotline. He wants to set up custom sound notifications in his smart home because he sometimes has a difficult time hearing certain things. Keith wants to be alerted when the dishwasher cycle is complete, for example, or when the microwave is done cooking a meal.
Amazon Alexa can already do this with its Alexa Guard functionality, but it’s not quite the solution Keith is looking for. That’s because currently, Alexa Guard is only able to identify dogs barking, babies crying, snoring, a smoke alarm, CO alarm, or glass breaking. Some of these sounds require the Alexa Guard Plus subscription at $4.99 a month. The free version detects smoke/CO alarms and breaking glass. Also, Alexa Guard only works when your home is in “Away” mode.
Last September, Amazon did announce future support for custom sound detection. However, that feature isn’t yet available. Once it arrives, Keith can train an Alexa device to listen for any sounds in his home.
If the existing Alexa Guard sounds will get the job done, it’s easy to set them up. In the Amazon Alexa mobile app, just tap More > Settings > Guard.
Apple introduced a similar feature with iOS 14 more than a year ago and it’s a little more robust than what Amazon offers. There are more pre-programmed sounds your iPhone can listen to. And yes, it has to be an iPhone at this point; The Apple HomePod products don’t yet support this feature.
I did set this up on my iPhone by going into Settings > Accessibility > Sound Recognition and enabling the feature. There you can also choose any or all of the 15 sound options. For my testing, I enabled the “Dog” sound because our canine family member Norm is an incredibly helpful test subject.
Sure enough, I received a delivery left at the front door and Norm obliged my test case. Within 10 seconds, my iPhone alerted me that it heard a dog barking.
Those with Google Home devices can also enable sound detection alerts through Google Nest speakers, cameras, smart displays, and WiFi access points. But like Amazon, the choice of sounds is pretty slim. You’ll only get an alert if your Google Home devices hear an alarm or the sound of breaking glass.
This is part of the Nest Aware service that Google offers and is easy to turn on. Go to the Google Nest mobile app, and navigate to Settings > Nest Aware > Sound detection. Once you enable this feature, the Nest app will show notifications when the pre-configured sounds are triggered in your home.
To hear Keith’s question, as well as our discussion in full, tune in to the IoT Podcast below: