You typically use Amazon’s Alexa to play music, provide weather forecasts, and respond to other household requests. But Alexa just got a somewhat unusual new skill: the ability to bark like a dog.
Alexa’s newfound gruff comes by way of Alexa Guard Plus, which is a new subscription service launching this week from Amazon to help turn your Echo device into a home security system for $5 a month or $50 a year (after a free one-month trial). Alexa Guard Plus may not be quite as sophisticated as a dedicated, purpose-built security system, but the new service may help you better use some of the smart home devices you already own.
For general emergencies, Alexa Guard Plus gives you access to a 24/7 helpline so you can ask for assistance simply by saying “Alexa, call for help.” That commend will route your request to agents who can alert the proper agencies or first responders.
Additionally, by using the mics built into Amazon Echo devices, Alexa Guard Plus can detect unusual sounds and send an alert to your phone, and even play a siren on command. With Guard Plus, Alexa’s audio detection is even able to recognize specific sounds like smoke alarms, glass breaking, or carbon monoxide warnings and then ping you about them. And in cases when an Echo hears an unusual noise, you can play back the recording or use the Drop In feature to listen to what your Echo is hearing in real time.
However, the real Alexa Guard Plus party trick is that when your Echo is linked to additional smart lights or security cams and it detects that you’re not at home, Alexa can turn your lights on and off to make it appear like you’re actually there, and even play the sound of a barking dog to scare away potential intruders.
In addition to Alexa Guard Plus, there is a free version of Alexa Guard, though it lacks many of the advanced features available with a paid subscription, including Emergency Helpline support, activity monitoring, and the ability for Alexa to bark or play a siren when motion or activity is detected.
For Ring Protect Plus subscribers, Alexa Guard Plus is included for free. And in the future, Amazon says Alexa Guard Plus will also be available through a number of home security partners, including Abode, Wyze, Scout Alarm, and others.
So one on hand, Alexa Guard Plus could be seen as yet another way for Amazon to bolster its monthly take. But at just $5 a month, its new security service could serve as a useful middle ground between having nothing to protect your home and installing a costly dedicated security system, especially for homeowners with multiple Echo devices.