Police Say This Alexa Away Mode Skill Could Help Echos Chase Off Burglars

Amazon Echo
I had an aunt who used to have her living room lights plugged into a timer, so they turn on and serve as a deterrent to potential burglars. That is how it was done 'back in the day'. What about today? There are fancier methods, and one of them involves Amazon's Echo smart speaker with Alexa. There is a new skill available that could keep would-be thieves away.

The skill is called Away Mode and it works by playing lengthy audio clips that sound like people are having a conversation inside. It was created by Hippo Insurance, an insurance outfit located in San Francisco, California. At present, Away Mode contains about a dozen conversations. The varied mix of topics include everything from a couple breaking up to a mother explaining to her daughter how to put together a piece of furniture from IKEA.

Does this sound familiar?

"Away Mode is the first ever home protection skill that harnesses the power of human awkwardness to ward off unwanted visitors. It’s like that scene from Home Alone, except instead of cardboard cutouts, it’s insufferable conversations written by the writers of SNL, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and UCB," the skill's description states.

Hippo Insurance told USA Today that it was aiming to come up with funny conversations that are also common ones that might occur in the home. After all, getting burglarized is no laughing matter.

It might sound a little bit absurd, but as one veteran police officer points out, burglars do not want to be seen (obviously). They want to get in and out as quickly as possible, and with the least amount of resistance. Having fake conversations play in the background serve a similar purpose as leaving on the television or flipping on the lights.

This is yet another unique way of leveraging a smart speaker. Alexa in particular continues to gain new skills, the total number of which is now above 30,000.