In brief: There are plenty of traditional ways to discourage would-be burglars from breaking into your home: dogs, leaving on the TV and lights, motion sensors, etc. But there’s a new method that’s a lot cheaper, assuming you own the right hardware: An Amazon Alexa skill.
For owners of Alexa-enabled speakers such as the Echo, Hippo Insurance’s “Away Mode” could help protect properties without the need to spend a fortune on security equipment. Essentially, the skill plays lengthy audio conversations, making it sound as if people are at home.
The audio samples last between 47 and 72 minutes, so they’re not going to help those going on week-long vacations. But you can cycle through all the tracks, meaning you can have several hours of conversations playing.
There are seven clips available, which were created by half a dozen comedy writers from Saturday Night Live, it’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and UCB. They include “A Stay At Home Mom Who Just Can’t Deal Anymore,” “Two Average Guys Brainstorm What’s Unique About Themselves So They Can Start a Podcast About It,” and “Emergency PTA Meeting To Discuss Memes, Fidget Spinners, and Other Teen Fads.”
As you can probably guess from the tracks’ titles and the writers behind them, the skill is quite tongue-in-cheek. It’s meant to encourage people to reassess their home security, while bringing San Francisco-based Hippo Insurance some publicity.
Although Hippo doesn’t intend for the skill to be relied on as a serious piece of home security, Jim Bueermann, a retired police chief and the current president of the Police Foundation, told USA Today: “Theoretically it’s a good idea. If this thing mimics real conversation, it’s much more likely to trick the burglar into believing somebody is home.”
If you own an Alexa speaker, you can try it out for free here.