Alexa can now control your alarm system: Is this safe?

Amazon Echo Alexa
Greg Mombert/Digital Trends
ADT just announced that it is adding new features for its security-system customers. The security and automation company now has an “ADT Pulse Alexa” skill available for new and existing home automation customers. ADT is leading the pack, as one of the first companies to provide its customers the ability to disarm their alarm systems using voice commands and a pin.

ADT Pulse customers can have Alexa-enabled devices, like the Echo or Echo Dot, installed in their homes, which will provide Pulse subscribers with access to the arm and disarm voice command features. Customers can also use the voice command features to complete other tasks (lock and unlock the door, turn on and off interior and exterior lights, close the garage door, and others), and Alexa will provide the user with a confirmation once the system has completed the action.

“A smart home is not always a safe home. Integrating ADT Pulse with Amazon Alexa voice service provides a more efficient, and equally as important, a safe approach, to hands-free home automation,” said Jamie Haenggi, chief marketing officer at ADT. “We look forward to enhancing our product interactions, backed by our 20,000 employees dedicated to keeping our customers safe.”

ADT Pulse Alexa’s security is not conducted through voice recognition; instead, the security comes from the user’s PIN number. If you ask Alexa to perform a task that involves opening, unlocking, or disarming, you’ll have to say your four-digit PIN to get the system to complete the task. If you say your pin incorrectly three consecutive times over the course of a few days, your Alexa device will disassociate from ADT and will no longer recognize ADT commands. You will have to follow a series of steps to get things up and running again.

Here are a few examples of the types of commands ADT Pulse Alexa understands:

  • Alexa, ask ADT to arm the system.
  • Alexa, ask ADT to disarm the system with 1234
  • Alexa, ask ADT to check the status of the security system
  • Alexa, ask ADT to unlock the Front Door Lock with 9876
  • Alexa, ask ADT to turn off the Light
  • Alexa, ask ADT to open the Garage Door with 1234

If you have a lot of traffic in and out of your house (you have a lot of workers in your home, or you have guests over often), it is possible for someone to overhear your PIN number when you say it aloud. While ADT Pulse Alexa is protected by a PIN, you may frequently say the pin aloud, as opposed to quietly typing it into a keypad as you would with an alarm system that’s not voice controlled.

For that reason, it’s a good idea to use extra caution, and be mindful of who’s around when you’re providing ADT Pulse Alexa with PIN-protected commands.

Health & Fitness

In search of the fountain of youth, beauty companies turn to tech

Beauty tech is a fairly new concept, but at CES 2019, companies such as Olay, L’Oreal, and Neutrogena were fully embracing it with all kinds of gadgets that promise to give you glowing skin.
Smart Home

With focus on interoperability, is Nevo Butler a smarter home hub?

Universal Electronics is the latest company getting into the smart home market, announcing at CES 2019 that it intends to market the Nevo Butler, a new smart home hub with onboard A.I. and voice control technology.
Emerging Tech

How long is a day on Saturn? Scientists finally have an answer

The length of Saturn's day has always been a challenge to calculate because of the planet's non-solid surface and magnetic field. But now scientists have tracked vibrations in the rings to pin down a final answer.
Smart Home

Want a smarter home? Ditch the keys with these great smart locks

A good smart lock should offer a combination of security and convenience. Fortunately, these devices keep your home protected, your family safe, and your belongings secure from possible intruders.
Computing

Pinning websites to your taskbar is as easy as following these quick steps

Would you like to know how to pin a website to the taskbar in Windows 10 in order to use browser links like apps? Whichever browser you're using, it's easier than you might think. Here's how to get it done.
Smart Home

Thinking of buying an Instant Pot? Here's what you need to know

The Instant Pot is a powerful kitchen appliance that does everything from pressure cook to to slow cook to steam. Heck, you can even make yogurt in it. Here's all you need to know about the magic device.
Smart Home

Busted: Facebook Portal gets 5-star reviews from company employees

It's fair to say that Facebook's Portal smart display received a tepid response at launch, so it was something of a surprise to see lots of glowing reviews of the device on Amazon. Turns out some were written by Facebook workers.
Smart Home

The best sous vide machines cook your food perfectly, every single time

Want to make four-star meals from the comforts of your own kitchen? Here are the best sous vide machines available right now, whether you prefer simple immersion circulators or something more complex.
Smart Home

Idaho mother says her child’s light-up sippy cup exploded

After a mother filled a Nuby insulated light-up cup with milk, the cup allegedly exploded. The incident caused burns to the mother's hand and face and a stinging sensation in her lungs that required a trip to the hospital.
Smart Home

Project Alias is a ‘smart parasite’ that stops smart speakers from listening

Two designers chose to do something about nosy smart speakers. The result is Project Alias, a "smart parasite" that whispers nonsense to Google Home and Alexa until it hears a specific wake word.
Smart Home

DS3 Clean water-free swatches could be the future of cleaning products

DS3 Clean swatches were on display at CES 2019. The small swatches come in several types, including shampoo and toilet cleaner. They're great for travel, but their real impact is in how such supplies will be shipped and stored.
Smart Home

Amazon patents a technology to help Alexa fight fake voice attacks

Amazon filed a patent this month for a new technology that looks like it would help its digital assistant Alexa fight fake voice attacks that could potentially fool Alexa's biometric security protocols.
Smart Home

Amazon Prime members number more than 100 million in the U.S., survey says

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners estimated there were 101 million U.S. Amazon Prime members as of December 31, 2018. Last April, CEO Jeff Bezos wrote there were more than 100 global million Prime members.
Smart Home

The Instant Pot Lux is a gateway drug into the pleasures of pressure cooking

The 3-quart Instant Pot Lux is one of the most affordable Instant Pots you can buy. Is it still a solid pressure cooker? Here are our thoughts on the Instant Pot Lux, a great IP baseline model.