Those who closely follow the tech trends of the 21st century are well-aware that voice recognition devices are the next big hit alongside virtual reality. Currently Amazon’s Echo service is the undisputed leader of the industry, favored by homeowners and manufacturers alike. It didn’t take long for home security companies to see the potential behind Amazon Echo, either, and many have integrated it into their system. Scout Alarm, Blink Home and abode are among the early adopters, who enabled Alexa to extend her reach towards home defense alarms. Just say the word and all your sensors are armed instantly; no fiddling with the touch screen on the base station anymore.
Using Amazon Echo for Home Security
Putting Alexa in charge of your home defense system provides several benefits. On one hand, you won’t need a hand to adjust the settings. Puns aside, using the ever-expanding skillset of Alexa, it only takes a few well-spoken commands to arm or disarm the security system, check the event history, or make specific changes in the pattern of certain devices. Amazon Echo basically has access to the same functions as your security system’s designated smartphone app. This way you don’t have to put down the grocery bags to arm or disarm your alarm system: you can just verbally give the command to Alexa.
Best Home Security Systems of 2020
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Amazon Echo Compatible Security Systems
Combining home security with voice control is an initiative we full-heartedly support. However, not every major home security service has realized the potential of this partnership, so here are three good examples of companies you have to consider for your home.
Scout Alarm was founded by a group of eager security engineers and designers who used crowdfunding to further their goal. Their project yielded a family of sensors and a cellular base hub, all of which sport a modern design. Scout Alarm only provides a basic set of alarms – a motion sensor, an entrance sensor and a small access sensor – but they compensate this flaw by integrating several smart device brands, such as Philips hue, LIFX, Nest and most importantly Amazon Echo. Since Scout Alarm uses special sensors, asking Alexa reveals whether the front door is open or what the previous three events logged by the system were.
Unlike other home security companies, Blink relies entirely on cameras to protect your home. They offer several recorders for inside and outside use, coupled with extra features such as weather resistance coating, motion detection and built in microphones. All cameras are synced together through a smartphone app, so you won’t need to arm them piece by piece. However, if you find it tedious to use the app for every action, just ask Alexa to do the busywork for you. Since the Blink Home security system fully supports Amazon Echo, all key features related to the cameras can be done via voice commands, whether that’s activating them or having their footage streamed to your Amazon Echo’s connected devices.
abode shares Scout Alarm’s mentality in the sense that the home security system should have a pleasing design to match the atmosphere of the room. abode’s basic kit includes the gateway (also known as the hub station), two window/door sensors, a remote keyfob and a motion sensor camera. Still, the system’s strength lies in their compatibility. The gateway is capable of handling countless smart device brands, linking them to the company’s very own smartphone app. However, this function can be replaced if you have an Amazon Echo speaker, since abode devices easily connect to Alexa. This is especially important when considering that a camera is also part of the package, so you only need to say a word to start streaming the live footage.
People often associate smart lighting systems with convenience, because the lamps and the electrical devices can be switched on and off remotely from your phone. It goes without saying that Amazon Echo elevates the concept to a whole new level, since you won’t even need to reach for your phone just to adjust the lights. It’s also possible to ask Alexa about the status of the smart light bulbs, or issue the activation of the energy saving mode. Some light bulbs even offer different color variations, and Amazon Echo lets you easily switch back and forth between them. Philips Hue and LIFX offer quite a versatile range of such light bulbs. But let’s not forget the security aspect, either; scheduling your lighting to brighten the house in regular intervals while you are away gives the impression that the building is occupied. This mode is easily accessible with the help of Alexa.
Smart Locks & Doorbells
The lighting system isn’t the only part of your home that can be controlled through Amazon Echo. Smart locks are the most popular home automation devices because they make keys obsolete. Doors can now be locked and unlocked with a simple tap on your smartphone, or by using a keycard. Alexa, however, makes even such a small gesture redundant. Instruct Alexa to open the door for your guests without stopping for a moment, or just ask her to close it when you are leaving to go to work. The same rules apply to the garage door. When you’re in a hurry for a meeting every second counts, and simply tasking your virtual assistant to open and close the garage entrance spares you from the tedious hustle. For larger residences it’s also worth integrating a smart doorbell to the system, because Alexa will perform an audio prompt when someone rings it. Schlage and Kwikset are especially good at crafting multifunctional smart locks.
Naturally, the potential of Amazon Echo’s enchanted smart home doesn’t end here. The possibilities are nearly limitless, but let’s take a closer look at some of the commonly integrated smart devices.
The easiest way to connect Alexa to your home is to find an automation smart hub like the Nexia Z-Wave Bridge, which controls the rest of your home’s equipment. The Nest Learning Thermostat is an all-star device among smart homeowners. It’s capable of learning the family’s preferred temperature and will automatically schedule changes. The thermostat also connects to the Wi-Fi, allowing remote access from tablets and smartphones. With Alexa, however, you can ask for the current temperature level and instruct her to make specific changes, hands-free. Finally, we have the TP-Link Smart Plug. The concept is simple: plug in any electronic device, and turn on/off the smart plug remotely. With Amazon Echo, your TVs or computers can be switched on just by saying the magic words. Now that’s the future!
Protecting Your Privacy
But not everything is sunshine and rainbows in the smart land of Amazon Echo. Many people have already raised concerns about Alexa eavesdropping 24/7, and the fact that everything is recorded rings a bell with any privacy-conscious homeowners. Despite Amazon claiming the device listening to all background noises only serves the benefit of the homeowner as well as contributes to service improvements, most people find it iffy to constantly have flies on the walls.
The help of Amazon Echo was enlisted sooner than expected, however, when crime investigators filed search warrants to Amazon after an Echo user was found dead in the hot tub, the detectives believing that the permanent connectivity of the system might hold some evidence regarding the crime. In this scenario the always-on nature of the device served a good purpose, but if the authorities receive such easy access to the archives of your voice command system then it could lead to a serious violation of privacy rights in the future. It’s also possible that malicious individuals would use it to spy on you, as they have already done with several smart devices. Currently the best available solution is to encrypt Alexa’s connection with a VPN.