‘Alexa, play Despacito’ was once a trending phrase that was inserted at the end of some of the most random memes. While this was just another passing meme that saw its popularity and died out, it spoke volumes of the kind of convenience Amazon’s Alexa provided and the kind of personalized services it was capable of. Not to mention, it is still one of the most popular home-based virtual assistants that you can get at this time. With its incredible range of features and its intelligent voice recognition and processing abilities, there is no wonder that there is myriad that can be done around the house just by asking Alexa to do it. One of these features and very handy little trick is using Alexa as an intercom; both for dropping in on conversations (which isn’t the advertised use) and to stop yourselves from screaming orders to four houses down the lane. Here’s how to use Alexa as an intercom.
One of the best features of a VDA (Virtual Digital Assistant) like Alexa is that it works with a myriad of devices, gives rise to a whole new concept of an inter-connected smart home and just like Back to the Future, gives a futuristic view in how houses will look twenty, thirty years from now. The fact that this simple little device can be used to control basically the whole house and everything in it is proof of the fact that Alexa, no matter how difficult the task you provide her or how stupid the question you ask her, will always have something in return. If you don’t want to use it as a dropping-in-on-conversations-uninvited device, you can just use it as an intercom, and save yourself from screaming yourselves hoarse, trying to get your roommate to turn down the music or ask your kids to come down for dinner. Using Alexa as an intercom is easy, practical and very convenient. Regarding the last part, just ask any mother or father of the things and tasks it simplifies.
Your first question might be ‘Why would you want to use Alexa as an intercom? Isn’t our privacy being invaded?’ Yes, there are some drawbacks to owning a smart VDA that does whatever you ask it, but the fact is that Amazon is pretty clear when it says they do not invade the privacy of a home. For example, the initial audio samples used for further voice-recognition commands are sent to Amazon for processing and tagging. And that’s all. Only specific chunks of conversation, which are completely your choice to send to the server for processing, are sent back to Amazon. Seems like a fairly small concern considering the benefits far outweigh this issue.
Anyways, back to point of how to use Alexa as an intercom. The benefits of using Alexa as an intercom are aplenty and certainly prove their usefulness around the house. It is a nifty little smart device that is essentially holding the house in its hand but is controlled by you. The fact that your whole house is controlled by a small device that could go offline and make everyone in the house go berserk is a very scary prospective, but hey. At least you get the maximum control over the house. No shouting at your roommate to turn the heat down because they aren’t on Jeff Bezos’ payroll, simply ask Alexa to do so like a civilized person. Want to know how to do it? Here’s how to use Alexa as an intercom.
How to use Alexa as an Intercom
If you live with roommates or are a family with two, three kids, this feature will be especially helpful. However, for this feature to be successfully used at the house, you need a few Amazon echo devices in your home, preferably one for each room (or the most annoying roommates, for example). With Alexa and a simple, built-in feature called ‘Drop In’ and a few of these Echo devices, your home can be a smart home with zero screaming or shouting and a whole bunch of really smart devices. Here’s how to use the Drop In feature to use Alexa as an intercom.
- So, the first step involves you checking whether the devices are in fact, Amazon Echo’s or Sono’s. the difference between the two is that the former allows for the Drop In feature to be used while an Amazon Sono cannot perform this function. Once you’re absolutely clear that the Drop In feature can be used across the whole range of devices available, you can go on to the second step.
- On your smartphone, install the Alexa app if already not installed. Go in the ‘Devices’ section and view all the devices that you have available and connected within the house. For each device that will be used for the Drop In feature, enable and connect it to the Alexa app and the main device, that will be used as the primary Amazon Alexa device.
- Once selected, tap on the ‘Echo & Alexa’ button to view which of the devices are online or offline and which are ready to be used as an intercom via the Drop In feature. You can see them over their assigned names, which is where another trick comes in.
- Why use boring names like Echo#3 or Alexa#2, when you can give them personalised assigned names. Want to address Matthew in the upper bedroom? Why not use Matthew’s Room’s Echo or Upper Bedroom’s Alexa as a name and always drop in on the right room, without fail? Try this feature on the Alexa app on your smartphone and give each room a personalised name to help you better know which room to talk in and when. Smart.
- Now that you’re all set, whenever you feel the need to inform a room’s occupant of the very loud noise or if the dinner is ready, simply tap on the command Drop In. Now, speak into the device command like ‘Alexa, drop in on Matthew’s Room’. This will allow the Echo or Alexa device in said room to beep, glow up and start to allow two-way passage of voice. You can then simply listen to what’s going on in the room or can talk to the person in the room, all from the comfort of your own room.
How to use this Feature for Other Actions and Commands
If making Alexa your intercom doesn’t float your boat, you can simply use it as an announcement device, with just one-way communication enabled so that you don’t have to listen to them. That’s pretty nifty and convenient too, right?
To use this feature, you first need to enable and use the Announce feature. The really good thing about this feature is that this can work between devices from different manufacturers as well; meaning you don’t need to have an Amazon device to use the Announce feature.
To use it, start by saying ‘Alexa, Announce’. The device will respond by asking you to say what you need to announce in the house or in the specified room. Record your message there and all the devices meant to receive this notification will chime and play the message. It as simple as that.
Why do you need to use Alexa as an Intercom?
The reason is pretty simple and actually very convenient. For one, it eliminates the need for you to start screaming and shouting or raising your voice every time you want to get something across the room or the house. For instance, in every household, at dinnertime, the chants can be heard ‘Honey, come down for dinner’ or ‘Timmy, you will eat your dinner.. with the VEGETABLES’. Either way, this all seems pointless and a waste of energy considering we have devices like mobile phones and Skype and WhatsApp that can allow you talk to your roommate or kid directly, without the need to shout it and involve four houses down the lane in the conversation. There’s no need to let them know that dinner is ready because dinner’s ready at your house, not theirs.
Either way, using Alexa as an intercom firstly eliminates the need for us to shout and scream all over the house. The second use might allude to us becoming more and more lazy by the day. Its come to the point where typing has become a difficult task and is being rapidly replaced by voice messages and two-way audio communication and whatnot. So, Amazon doubles it down by allowing Alexa to sue her intelligent AI-driven resources to convey messages by voice between two people living in the same house who can’t be bothered to text each other.
Plus, the Drop In feature also gives you the ability to listen in on conversations or anything going on in the house, really. The weird and borderline illegal wiretap-esque action aside, the Amazon Drop In feature can be used as a really great alternative for baby monitors or other monitors meant for special needs children. Its how you use it that matters.