They might be overbearing, confusing and susceptible to NSFW hacks, but it appears that “smart home” devices like Alexa and Google Home have some upside beyond convenience.
Namely, that they can come in very, very handy when emergencies arise.
We saw proof of this in March, when Amazon handed over data from one of its Echo devices to aid police in a murder investigation. Further confirmation arrived last week, with news that a smart-home device had aided police in breaking up a domestic dispute.
According to ABC News and New Mexico’s Bernalillo County Sheriff Department, officers were alerted about a situation at a home about 15 miles east of Albuquerque after a gadget inside the residence called 911. The device (it’s unclear which kind) allegedly made the call after hearing one of the parties says “Did you call the sheriffs?” and reacted to the “call the sheriffs” portion of the statement.
The operator who took the call heard a confrontation in the background and dispatched deputies. They were able to remove a woman and child from the home and, after a long standoff with both a crisis negotiation and SWAT team, a man was taken into custody.
“The unexpected use of this new technology to contact emergency services has possibly helped save a life,” Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales said in a statement to ABC News. “This amazing technology definitely helped save a mother and her child from a very violent situation.”
Score one for the Internet of Things.