Improvements in video and camera technology have opened up easy access to consumer-grade security products. You can head over to a nearby Costco and many other stores to take your pick from a variety of home security camera systems. All relatively affordable, and coming with different features to integrate into your smart home system.
But did you know, you can actually use your Echo show as a security camera? It’s not exactly a built-in feature, but we will walk you through the process.
What is the Echo Show
In case you are not familiar, the Show is much like any other Echo brand product. The distinct feature here is the device’s touchscreen and front-facing camera. These can be used for video calls, and as you might have guessed, is the key feature for using the device as a security camera. Besides that, you can access recipes, calendars, music, and apps like Hulu right from the device. Sort of a combination between a smart speaker and smart TV device in one package.
Using the “Drop-In” Feature
When doing video calls, you can enable a special feature called Drop-In. What this does is allows specific contacts (chosen by you) to automatically start video calls. Without you having to ever accept the call.
What does this mean exactly? Well, anyone with Drop-In privileges can get an instant video feed of whatever the Show’s front-facing camera is seeing. More importantly, you can get instant access to a live feed of wherever your device is at.
On a side note, people with drop access can see if you were recently using the Show. This way, when they say “Alexa, drop in on John”, they know John is home. That was the main idea behind the Drop-In feature. To make video calls as seamless as possible. So how does the security camera part work?
How to turn Drop-In into a Security Camera
Once you start the call, you won’t see the other side immediately. There are several seconds when a blurred image is displayed. This gives the person receiving the call some time to respond. If you are making the call, you will automatically be visible.
In this case, it doesn’t really matter, because you will be giving your own contact info the Drop-In access. This means you can start a call with your own device, from any other location. After the timer is up, you’ll get a live video feed of whatever is going on back at home. See the trick? There is no need for anyone to be home to answer the call. While not technically labeled as a security camera, it certainly performs the function well.
If you own multiple devices in your home, you now have a full range indoor surveillance system on the go. We see this serving a few important functions. For those with younger kids, or older relatives that might suffer from illness, you have a great way to see if everything is all right. Whenever you need, just start up a call and within seconds you’ll have a live image.
Your home could end up being unoccupied while you are out on travel for some time. Now you are only a call away to make sure everything is alright. Now the house sitter doesn’t need to come over as often. Plus, you can actually make sure they are doing their job! Or get a quick look at the pets, just to make sure they are behaving themselves.
In extra-large spaces, you could even try to set up an effective speaker system for quick communication. A little over the top, when most people have a phone nearby, but still a fun concept.
Regular Security Cameras Work Too
It’s worth noting that the Echo Show is compatible with a range of traditional security cameras as well. Once you connect to a camera, you’ll be able to use voice commands to activate any video feed you have setup. “Alexa, show me the front door,” will display on the Show’s screen the same footage the front door camera is picking up.
It is a pretty cool feature and is a lot handier than pulling out your phone to see who is knocking at your front door. Of course, this doesn’t work quite the same as the other method we described. Since you have to be home to access your Echo. But then again, you probably are using whatever built in app the security cameras came with if you are not at home.
All in all, using your Echo Show as a security system is a nifty little feature. It certainly can some effective use, depending on your situation. Plus, if you start to implement being able to listen to audio from an Echo Dot, you could start creating an almost omniscient surveillance of your home!
Besides that, we don’t see much other use for the Drop-In feature. In reality, giving people automatic access to look inside your home sounds pretty creepy on paper. While it seems like a huge privacy invasion, there are some very specific situations in which it can be useful. Outside of the uses we talked about, not so much.
The ability to view footage of other security cameras is a nice perk, but not a system selling feature. If you already have cameras set up outside the house, go ahead and connect your Show as well. But we wouldn’t recommend buying a Show just for that setting.
Hopefully, this quick guide gave you some ideas on how to effectively use your Echo Show as an easy access home security camera. Obviously, there is a lot more functionality outside of this one particular use. We imagine Amazon will continue to develop more improvements for their Echo line of products. Possibly introducing more settings and cross-compatible abilities that improve the security features of the device. For tech and security enthusiasts, it is definitely worth keeping an eye on.