15 May, 2019

Helping secure home with Alexa

I am well into the remodeling and part of that is redoing the switches for the house mostly because the 35 year old original switches are literally falling apart and causing some serious concern for safety.

Given that and the price difference between some of the lower price point smart switches in high quality dumb switches we are doing a smart home project. And a key component of this smart home project is voice integration.  Now I looked at the various voice platforms the leading contenders are Alexa from Amazon assistant from Google Bixby from Samsung and Siri from Apple.

I am not trying to start a flame war here so please forgive me ahead of time if anything I say here you disagree with these are my personal opinions and a for me and I would like to triple underlined me because I know it works well for other people but for me I am just not a big Apple fan so Siri isn't a choice for me. My Galaxy note 9 features Bixby and it tends to translate my voice commands to something roughly halfway between American English and Korean. Not gonna work.

So the 2 remaining competitors Alexa and assistant are really all that was left for me to choose from.

After reviewing the features the costs and the benefits of each including compatibility with 3rd party products the answer was quite clear. Amazon Alexa was my clear choice.

With solid voice integration and an ever expanding group of skills and they demonstrated solid commitment to 3rd party integrations which Google is killing off from their platform by removing the works with nest program we went and grabbed several echo devices on deep sale. For starters we wanted to get rid of our Satellite TV and go entirely streaming to save money and be able to better control what we are watching. We opted for fire TV sticks and purchase them as a bundle on sale around Christmas time with echo dot's. And a more recent acquisition was a full on echo that was picked up on Mother's Day sale.

Now there is a new feature that was fully opened up to us echo users as of May 14th 2019 which is called Alexa guard.  This feature allows the echo devices to listen for sound patterns such as breaking glass or smoke alarms and then send an alert to your phone or mobile device. If you have very specific professional monitoring services most notably ADT pulse or Ring monitored alarm services then these alerts can be reviewed by your monitoring service and calls to emergency services can be placed then.

This is a feature I've been anxiously awaiting since it was initially announced in fall of 2018.  When the initial early Beta was released it only supported 2nd generation Echo and 3rd generation Echo Dot devices. With the full release as of May 14th 2019 all generations of Echo devices are now compatible.

So as we continue to go through our build process we have to add a couple more echo dots to have a listening device in every area where there is glass. This will give us a full coverage and allow us better protection while we are out of the house.

I know there are privacy concerns with these smart speakers but I am not all that worried about them at this point and to me the benefits outweigh the risks