If you’ve somehow neglected to install any kind of home security, but invested in an Amazon Echo, Hippo Insurance has an interesting way of deterring burglars. The company’s Away Mode is a free Alexa skill that uses your Echo smart speaker to spook burglars with idle chit-chat, to give the impression that people are home when you’re off gallivanting somewhere else.
Simply enable the Alexa skill and set Away Mode active, and your Echo will chatter away with itself through one of seven scenarios including “Mom walks daughter through assembling a Malm dresser over the phone” and “Two average guys brainstorm what’s unique about themselves so they can start a podcast about it”.
Each scenario lasts around an hour and, as you’ve probably guessed from the titles, they’re not designed to be taken entirely seriously.
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Indeed, the scripts were written by comedy writers who have worked on the likes of Saturday Night Live and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
This means that if potential burglars actually listen carefully to the recordings, they’d likely cotton on pretty quickly, but if muffled voices are all you’re looking for, this could worth looking into.
It’s currently averaging 2.9/5.0 on Amazon, with the main complaint being the acting quality of the scenarios.
“My ears couldn’t stand listening to it,” reads one user review. “If I played this the burglar would probably break in to shoot me and put me out of my misery.” Home Alone would have been a very different film if the cardboard cutouts scene had ended like that.
Still, as another reviewer points out: “Sure they are bad actors, but a potential thief will not be putting their thieving ears against the door to hear if the muffled voices are pre-recorded bad acting!”
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And at the very least, some people are having fun with practical jokes. “My wife called me panicked, asking why there was a child and mother arguing upstairs,” says another user. “She was afraid to walk into the house. 5 stars.”
Unfortunately, it seems to only be available in the US at the moment. Burglar Deterrent seems like a decent alternative for UK users and lets you pick audio to suit the room the Echo’s in, which is probably a bit more useful overall, even if it lacks some of the entertainment value.
Would you use Alexa as a burglar deterrent? Let us know on Twitter @TrustedReviews.