amazon alexa

Amazon's New Idea ... Amazon Sidewalk

Amazon Sidewalk

Episode 1750

Wanting to offer a neighborhood-based wifi network, Amazon has announced Amazon Sidewalk, which uses Bluetooth low energy (BLE) radios to connect everyone from house to house. You can get motion alerts from your security cameras, track your pets if they should run away, and even notifications when the mailman leaves you mail. As long as one device sees the other, it can pass along connectivity with a promised small amount of bandwidth. 

Can I create sound all around the house using Amazon Echo speakers?

Episode 1747

Paul from Columbus, OH

Paul wants to be able to hook up a friend's Amazon Alexa device to his CD system, so he can create a speaker system in every house. Leo says that the Amazon FireTV Cube has an IR blaster that can command your devices from anywhere in the house. But to broadcast the signal on the Echo devices may be a challenge. If they had an audio-in jack, then that would be the easiest. Doing it digitally from your computer and streaming music would be even easier.  But to play physical media over an Echo system is a challenge.

How Can I Turn Off Echo Making Phone Calls?

Alexa

Episode 1729

Steve from Redondo Beach, CA

Steve wants to turn off in his Amazon Alexa. He can't stop his 4-year-olds from making calls. Leo says that he may have to call Amazon Support at 1 (888) 280-4331 and ask them to disable it. Presumably, it's a safety feature in case of emergencies. He could turn off the option in the Amazon app, turning it off device by device. Go to preferences - then communications. There's a disable option by device. Steve said that he looked and the option isn't on in the app. But it still works. So only a call to Amazon will prevent that from happening.

How Do I Set Up Security Cameras with Alexa?

Arlo

Episode 1675

Stan from Victorville, CA

Stan has Arlo security cameras around his home and several IOT devices around his home. But all his devices go off and warn him if there's movement on one camera, but not the rest. Leo suspects that your other cameras haven't had the notification enabled. ScooterX in the chatroom says that the Arlo cameras linked to his Echo need the skill to do it. Check this technote. He will need to go into his Alexa app and discover all the cameras.

Doctor Mom ... Erased

Amazon Echo Show 5

Episode 1596

This week, Amazon has announced users have the option to delete any recordings Alexa has made. It's in Settings-Alexa Account-Alexa Privacy-Review Voice History. 

Amazon has also announced the new Echo Show 5. But Doctor Mom says it's way too small to watch video on it. Leo says it's a direct competitor to the Google Home Hub.

Is Alexa Listening in on our Drop-ins and Phone Calls?

Alexa

Episode 1582

Sheldon from Sherman Oaks, California

Sheldon hears about Amazon's listening in on commands with Alexa, but are they recording when users do a drop-in, or a phone call? Rich says that no, the system is designed to stop listening once the command is executed. Besides, if they were, that could kill the entire service if word got out that Amazon was recording the entire call/drop-in. 

But an easy way to test it is to make a call, and then give Alexa a command, If it reacts, then it's not recording. If it doesn't ... well, there would be an interesting answer from Amazon about that.

How can I use an Echo while traveling?

Echo

Episode 1569

Joe from North Carolina

Caller has a generation 1 Echo and a gen 2 Echo Dot for his dad. But he can't get it to log in when they bring it travelling. Leo says that it can largely depend on joining the WiFi of a captive portal network. Leo says a Travel router like the Tiny Hardware firewall would be ideal. They have one called the Trek Travel Router. He can then log into the phone. Just plug the router into the wall, the router will then give you a website to log into.

What's a good home hub alternative to IRIS?

IRIS

Episode 1568

Steve from Rancho CucaMonga, CA

Steve just found out his IRIS home hub service is being discontinued at the end of March. So what should he get to replace it? Leo says that the wide variety of competing standards has created a kind of house of cards where one platform goes out of business, leaving users to look elsewhere. If there was a standard protocol, that wouldn't happen. Leo says that Samsung SmartThings may work with his existing products because they use Zigbee and Z-Wave protocols. Google is a big player but can tire and kill off services. Leo recommends going with Samsung SmartThings.

Can I use Echo to turn on my lights?

Amazon Echo

Episode 1565

Henry from Prescott Valley, AZ

Henry has a few Amazon Echos and wants to know if he can turn his lights on/off with them. Leo says absolutely, but he'll need smart home lights that support the Echo. Philips Hue is one brand. But there are plenty of others out there. He can also get smart switches that enable him to turn things off with his voice. He should search Amazon for "works with Alexa" devices.