*Thanks to Terry S. for passing along this unsettling news story.*
A smart home speaker may have saved a life by calling cops to a domestic
Authorities in New Mexico, US have reported that a 'smart home device' was
triggered by statements during an alleged domestic dispute which was turning
violent and called 911.
Police say that when they arrived on the scene in response to the call, they
found Eduardo Barros threatening his girlfriend with a firearm. They managed
to de-escalate the situation and were able to remove the woman and her
daughter to safety.
d-assault/story?id=48470912> According to ABC News, the couple were
house-sitting at a home with a smart speaker device wired up to the surround
system. Barros allegedly pulled a gun on his girlfriend and asked "did you
call the sheriff's?"
The obediently listening smart speaker interpreted this as a request and
promptly called 911. Even though nobody spoke to the dispatcher, the
commotion could be heard over the phone, so police arrived to investigate.
"The unexpected use of this new technology to contact emergency services has
possibly helped save a life," local sheriff Manuel Gonzales III
d-assault/story?id=48470912> told ABC News.
"This amazing technology definitely helped save a mother and her child from
a very violent situation."
After a lengthy stand-off, a crisis negotiation team and SWAT officers were
eventually able to take Barros into custody.
Results&service=direct&session=T&sp=ST-4-FR-2017003716> Court records show
that Barros now faces several charges, including aggravated battery against
a household member. He had his first hearing on July 5.
We don't know which of the various smart home devices on the market was
responsible for this valiant rescue - earlier versions of the report stated
it was a Google Home speaker, but have since been corrected to an
But it's not the first time one of these gadgets has been involved in police
investigations. Late last year we reported that Alexa, the software running
on Amazon's smart speaker Echo,
urder-and-prosecutors-are-seeking-its-data> may have witnessed a murder.
These smart speakers typically only react to sounds when triggered with a
specific activation word, such as 'OK Google' or 'Amazon'. But even with
that being the case, Amazon has since
murder-case/> agreed to hand over the data to prosecutors as the case
And it's all well and good when a smart device does something helpful as in
this alleged domestic violence case, but the very fact it called the cops is
a reminder that these speakers are just sitting there. constantly listening.
For some users, that's an uncomfortable level of surveillance, and a lot of
smart devices are also potentially
ht-bulbs-aren-t-safe-from-hackers> vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
In the end, this technology is so fresh, we're still figuring out exactly
how much privacy we're giving up whe
n we rig out our homes with the 'Internet of Things'
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