Amazon Alexa Guard is Now Available to All Users Via an App Update
Amazon Alexa Guard is a service that listens for sounds indicating danger while you are not at home. For example, it can detect the sound of breaking glass, a carbon monoxide or smoke alarm and notify the smart speaker device owner there is an issue via a notification. Users can listen to a 10-second recording of the noise in their Alexa app or drop-in remotely on Echo devices to listen to what is happening in the home in real-time. Alexa Guard is active in “away mode” after a user says, “Alexa, I’m leaving.”
Setting Up Alexa Guard, Knowing When It’s Active
Alexa Guard was first announced in September 2018 and rolled out in a limited beta trial in December. It is now available to all U.S. users. To activate Alexa Guard, go into your Alexa app and select Settings > Guard. In addition to detecting sounds, Alexa Guard can also integrate with ADT and Ring security systems. Alexa can arm your system from these providers and can forward smart alerts to ADT. Smart lights can also be controlled through Alexa Guard and turn them on and off to make it appear someone is at home. A notice about the “away lighting” feature from Amazon says, “Alexa uses machine learning to determine the right lighting activity for your home based on lighting usage across customers.”
You should keep in mind that Alexa Guard is associated with a specific account. This means that if one person sets up Alexa Guard and the Echo is in the other person’s account, saying “I’m leaving” won’t actually activate Guard. Similarly, if you activate Alexa Guard and then another user changes the account and you later say, “I’m home” then Alexa guard will remain in active listening mode. In that instance, you would need to ask Alexa to switch back to your account and then say “I’m home” Alternatively, you can activate or deactivate Guard in the Alexa app. The only way to really know if Alexa Guard is active is to look into your Alexa app in the devices section to see the Guard status. Otherwise, you may have an active listening Guard even when you are home.
Not the Only Home Security and Alerting Solution
It is interesting that Amazon discusses one Alexa Guard state as “away mode.” This is the name of an Alexa skill launched in August 2018 by Hippo Insurance. This skill is designed to deter burglars by playing long-form audio tracks of people talking. This may fool a would-be burglar into thinking someone is at home and deter them from carrying out the crime. Alexa Guard’s “glass breaking” sound detection might identify a break-in, but the Away Mode skill is designed around prevention much like those lawn signs that have ADT on them. The idea is that there is more risk of targeting specific homes that have security systems or when residents are present.
Audio Analytic also provides a solution embedded in the Freebox Delta security solutions that detects breaking glass, dogs barking, babies crying, and other sounds. Speech and audio recognition software provider Sensory announced a similar solution for its device manufacturing partners at CES 2019. Sensory CEO Todd Mozer spoke about this solution in an interview in Voicebot Podcast Episode 79 (26:33). In that same episode, Abilisense CEO Erez Lugashi described yet another sound recognition solution with the same objectives (40:34). So, Amazon is not necessarily breaking new ground with Alexa Guard in terms of innovation, but it is making the capability very easy to access for tens of millions of Echo smart speaker owners. Set-up takes less than one minute.