You could pay hundreds or perhaps thousands for a smart home security system. Or you could just use the Echo device you already own.

Amazon offers an Echo-driven smart home security system. Called Alexa Guard, it allows your Echo device to listen for potential signs of an emergency. It works with a subscription service, called Alexa Guard Plus, which provides access to premium features, including an emergency helpline that is available 24/7.

If you’re the type of person who has a hard time enjoying a holiday away, mostly because you’re worried about what’s going on at home, this new feature could help put your mind at ease. Here's everything you need to know about Alexa Guard and Alexa Guard Plus.

What is Alexa Guard?

It's straightforward: What if the Echo speakers in your home could detect threats and then help make you instantly aware of them? That's the whole point of Alexa Guard, an Alexa-powered feature that uses the existing far-field microphones in Amazon Echo devices to closely listen for glass breaking or the sound of alarms coming from smoke or CO detectors when you're away from home.

Alexa Guard can also switch your smart lights on and off, mimicking your normal usage to make it seem like you’re at home.

What is Alexa Guard Plus?

Alexa Guard Plus is a premium subscription service version for Alexa Guard.

It adds a few new features that make the service more effective at protecting your home and deterring potential intruders, as well as offering a 24/7 emergency helpline. Amazon has said the service will fully support hands-free calling and will be staffed by trained agents "24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year."

Other new features to Alexa Guard Plus include improved noise detection, allowing your Alexa-enabled devices to detect the sounds of everything from babies crying to footsteps. Alexa can also play the sounds of dog's barking if it sees intruders coming near your front door through a Ring Doorbell.

How to enable Alexa Guard

Enable Alexa Guard

First, you have to enable the feature in the Alexa app on your iOS or Android.

  1. Open the Alexa app.
  2. Go to Menu (three line icon) > Settings.
  3. Scroll down and select the Guard option.
  4. It'll ask you to confirm and enter your zip code to use the Away Lighting aspect.

Note: The Alexa app uses your zip code for Away Lighting, so it can smartly turn on your lights when it's nighttime in your neighborhood.

How does Alexa Guard work?

Activate Alexa Guard with a voice command

Once you've enabled the feature in the Alexa app, say, “Alexa, I’m leaving” to your Echo. This will switch Guard to Away mode, and then it will send Smart Alerts to your phone if it hears something like a smoke alarm or the sound of glass breaking. These notifications will include an audio clip, so you can hear for the noise yourself. You will also be given the option to Drop In on your Echo device.

In order for Alexa to accurately identify the sound of a window shattering, Amazon said it had a team break hundreds of different types of windows with objects like crow bars, hammers, bricks, and more. Using machine learning, it was able to teach Alexa how to listen and recognise these types of sounds so that it can better understand when to alert you of a potential break-in or hazard.

Which Echo devices support Alexa Guard?

The following Amazon Echo devices support Alexa Guard:

  • Amazon Echo (all generations)
  • Amazon Echo Dot (all generations)
  • Amazon Echo Plus (all generations)
  • Amazon Echo Show (all generations)
  • Amazon Echo Spot
  • Amazon Echo Input

Will Alexa Guard work with security systems?

Yes. Alexa Guard can be set up to work with your existing home security system. It works with Ring, ADT Pulse, and ADT Control security systems. In fact, if you have a professional monitoring service through Ring or ADT, you can forward Smart Alerts to your security company.

Is Alexa Guard free to use?

Yes. Alexa Guard is absolutely free to use, however you can upgrade to the Alexa Guard Plus subscription service for $4.99 a month (or $49 for an annual subscription) for added benefits. You will also be able to try Alexa Guard Plus for free for one month when it becomes available.

When will Alexa Guard and Alexa Guard Plus be available?

Alexa Guard is already live in the US. Alexa guard Plus will be available from autumn 2020.

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