A new skill for Amazon's digital assistant Alexa will help Amazon Echo smart speakers in keeping potential burglars away from empty homes.
The Alexa skill, however, does not use advanced sensors or some other piece of sophisticated technology. Instead, it utilizes the power of awkward and ridiculous conversations.
Alexa Skill 'Away Mode' Will Keep Burglars Away
Some people leave on the lights, TV, or radio when they leave the house to make burglars think that somebody is at home and look for another place to target. A new Alexa skill named Away Mode looks to bring this practice into the modern age.
Instead of TV shows and radio programs, launching Away Mode on an Amazon Echo smart speaker will play one of seven audio tracks that sound like real conversations. The audio tracks are written by comedy writers behind SNL, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and UCB so, that should give an idea of how the prerecorded conversations will play out.
The audio tracks of Away Mode include "Couple Has Breakup While Also Trying to Watch TV," "Emergency PTA Meeting To Discuss Memes, Fidget Spinners, and Other Teen Fads," and "Two Average Guys Brainstorm What's Unique About Themselves So They Can Start a Podcast About It."
The other scenarios are a book club where they never talk about a book, a mom who is helping her daughter assemble an IKEA item through the phone, a stay-at-home mother who is going crazy, and players arguing over a board game.
According to Hippo Insurance, the San Francisco-based home insurance company behind the Alexa skill, the point of Away Mode is to scare off possible burglars. It makes them think that not only there are people at home, but also that they are "absolutely insufferable."
Will The 'Away Mode' Alexa Skill Really Work?
The idea may look silly, but according to Jim Bueermann, a retired California police chief, and current Police Foundation president, Away Mode may work in keeping burglars away.
Andrea Collins, Hippo Insurance head of brand marketing, added that Away Mode should not be considered as a serious security tool. However, the company is hoping that the Alexa skill will get people talking about home security and other means of protecting unattended homes.
It should also be noted that the conversations in Away Mode do not last really long, with most of them running for only about an hour. That is enough time for a quick errand, but it will not keep homes safe overnight.
In addition, if users keep playing the same conversation, burglars will eventually see through the trick and discover that there are crazy stay-at-home mothers inside.