If you’ve just unwrapped an Amazon Echo hub, now is the perfect time to connect it and its digital voice assistant, Alexa, to your home security system. With a two-year head start over the rest of the digital assistant market, Alexa’s repertoire of skills and compatible products is incredibly vast. There’s an almost endless selection of Alexa-compatible devices, making your Echo the perfect “brain” for a smart home security system. From smart doorbells to AI-powered security cameras, these are the best Alexa upgrades for 2018.
Smart homes utilize Wi-Fi connected devices to automate or streamline the use of everyday electronics. Amazon’s Echo devices, powered by the voice-activated digital assistant Alexa, are often used as hubs for these types of devices. Many of Alexa’s 15,000 skills interface with smart light bulbs, appliances, and security devices.
Since its introduction a few years ago, Alexa has put itself far in front of the competition when it comes to compatible devices, and it still isn’t a close race. Most smart security devices on the market are Alexa-compatible, and tying your security system into an Echo hub adds convenient features and makes interfacing with multiple security devices as easy as calling out a command.
Setting up smart home security
If you want to make Alexa your head of home security, you’ll need an Echo-compatible security system to integrate. Devices like the Scout Alarm and Vivint security systems work perfectly with Alexa. Once you’ve synced your alarms to your Echo, you’ll be able to control almost every aspect of your alarm system using voice commands.
Smart security devices come in lots of varieties. Depending on your needs, you might opt for a simple alarm system or a whole-home security system comprising multiple devices. The smart home market moves fast, and new Alexa-compatible devices are released almost every week, adding to Alexa’s already impressive repertoire.
Alarm systems are the quintessential home security device. These devices use a local mesh network and a series of connected sensors on doors and windows to alert the homeowner (or the authorities) when there’s a break-in.
Smart alarms like those from Scout or Vivint use skills-level integration, and the command list is verbose. Many natural language commands like “Send help!” work just fine. The ability to quickly check the status of the alarm before you leave the house makes these Alexa-compatible systems much easier to use than traditional alarms.
However, Alexa’s voice commands are redirected to your alarm system each time you activate a command. For instance, you’ll have to say “Alexa, tell Scout to disarm” if you want the command to work. Alexa can also sometimes have a hard time hearing a command if the alarm is going off, but otherwise, the convenience of voice activation makes it easy to see past the occasional hiccup.
Smart security cameras add another layer of defense to your home. They allow you to keep track of unexpected visitors using your smartphone or your office computer, granting peace of mind when you’re out of the house.
The latest tech in home security cameras is machine learning and person detection, and Amazon’s own Cloud Cam brings the latest in AI to the Echo. Right now, the Cloud Cam uses motion detection and person detection to record video and send alerts whenever it detects motion or a person specifically. With a planned software update this year, Amazon will bring machine learning to the Cloud Cam, giving it the ability to automatically review clips and determine whether something is a threat. Once the update goes live, the Cloud Cam should even be able to recognize pets.
Smart locks offer the first line of defense for your home. Their most convenient feature is the ability to lock and unlock the front door using your smartphone, a handy feature for letting in family, friends, or pet sitters when you’re not at home.
August, Schlage, and Kwikset all offer Alexa-compatible smart locks, which allows you to check whether your door is locked from anywhere inside or outside the house. Smart locks from August also offer an activity feed, which you can access and monitor with Alexa.
Smart light bulbs and thermostats
Burglars are much less likely to attempt a break-in if the lights are on. Alexa-compatible light bulbs from Philips and BeON can augment your home security system by imitating your lighting habits when you’re away, discouraging would-be thieves. Simply shouting “Alexa, turn on the lights!” provides quick reassurance when something goes bump in the night.
Smart thermostats can secure your home from other threats, like a fire or gas leak. Nest, Ecobee, and Honeywell all produce Alexa-compatible thermostats, which make adjusting the temperature more convenient.
As machine learning and AI as a whole improve, so will security devices and Amazon’s Echo and Alexa ecosystem. Updates in 2018 are expected to bring even more security and convenience. So whether you’ve just started your smart home security plan or you’re looking for ways to expand it, Alexa will have the skills and devices you need.
Sage Singleton is a freelance writer for Daily Worth, Today.com Parenting, and Babble.