Amazon’s digital assistant can now watch over your house while you’re gone.
Starting today, the e-commerce giant is launching its free ‘Alexa Guard’ feature for all Echo devices in the US.
With a few simple steps, Alexa Guard turns Amazon’s voice-activated speakers into smart home security devices.
As users are headed out the door, they can say ‘Alexa, I’m leaving,’ and Echo devices will start listening.
It will listen to detect specific sounds selected by the user, such as the sound of glass breaking, as well as the sound of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
Users can opt to receive smartphone alerts if their device detects these sounds.
The ‘Smart Alerts’ will say that there’s been a possible sound detected on the Echo device.
From there, users can ‘Drop In,’ which allows them to listen to audio footage in real time.
Alexa Guard can also mimic your daily light activity, turning your lights on or off at specified times to make it appear like you’re at home.
If users have other smart home security devices, such as those made by ADT or Ring, Alexa Guard can also notify those monitoring services.
Amazon has recently been at the center of criticism for how its devices collect and store information, as well as who access to user data.
Bloomberg reported that Amazon has a dedicated team for listening to your Alexa conversations, while a separate CNET report found that Amazon still holds onto text logs of your interactions with Alexa, even after you delete the audio recordings.
With Alexa Guard, Amazon maintains that Echo devices will only record sounds that are pre-selected by the user during Away mode.
‘Guard will only detect these sounds when set to Away mode,’ the firm explained in a breakdown of the feature.
‘Similar to the wake word, the device detects these sounds by identifying acoustic patterns that match the sounds you select.
‘Guard does not store or send audio to the cloud unless the device detects a selected sound,’ Amazon added.
Alexa Guard initially rolled out through an invite-only beta test.
It’s now available for all users starting today and is free to download – no Prime subscription or paid plan is needed to activate the tool.