“Alexa, arm!” Starting Thursday, December 13, with those two words Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant can activate your security system and recruit additional Alexa-supported devices in your home.
The Alexa development team announced a new Security Panel Controller API in the Alexa Skills Kit. U.S. Alexa customers who also have a supported security system from ADT, Ring, Abode, and Scout Alarm can start using Alexa’s new security capability immediately.
When you enable arming and disarming Alexa-supported home security by voice, you can use the following syntax:
- “Alexa, is <device name> armed?”
- “Alexa, arm <device name> in <mode>.”
- “Alexa, arm.” — If you don’t specify a mode, the configured alarm system switches into “stay” mode, also called “home” mode.
- “Alexa, disarm <device name>.”
- “Alexa, disarm.”
Given the current state of biometric identification security, disarming a home security system with voice without extra protection isn’t safe. The Alexa settings page requires a 4-digit PIN code customers must use when they tell Alexa to disarm the system. Customers with systems that already use 4-digit PINs can use either the established PIN or create a new 4-digit code to use only when disarming the system with an Alexa voice command. Customers who current systems don’t require or support 4-digit PINs still have to create a 4-digit code to use with Alexa disarm commands.
The new Alexa Guard feature, which will be gradually rolling out across the U.S., adds three additional capabilities to Alexa’s bag of security tricks: Smart Alerts with and without security system integration and Away Lighting.
With Smart Alerts, when you set the Guard feature to Away mode, compatible Echo device will listen for specific sounds, including glass breaking, smoke alarms, and carbon monoxide alarms. If an Echo device detects one or more of the configured sounds, Alexa can send an alert notification to your smartphone. If you integrate Alexa Guard with Ring or ADT systems, you can have the alerts sent to the security system monitoring service.
Away Lighting can turn Alexa-connected home lights on and off when you’re away to give the appearance that you’re home.
You can also set up discovery queries with the new security system and Alexa Guard feature.
“Alexa, is my living room window open?” According to Abode Systems, Alexa customers with Adobe security systems will be able to query contact sensors by name. If you have contact sensors on every window and door in your home, you could check each one as long as you keep the names straight.
With Alexa Routines, Abode customers can configure Alexa to react to contact sensors and motion sensors with customized messages. For example, you could configure custom Alexa announcements when door or windows open or close and when motion sensors detect motion or the lack of motion in any area in the house.
Updated December 14, 2018: Alexa Guard is a feature, not a skill.