‘Smart Home’ Device Calls 911 in Domestic Violence Case

A smart speaker inadvertently caused a New Mexico man to call police as he threatened his girlfriend and her child. “This amazing technology definitely helped save a mother and her child from a very violent situation,” said Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales III.

As smart home devices like the Amazon Echo and the Google Home become more and more common, there has been a growing fear among privacy advocates about the implications of “always-on” speakers that could record illicit dealings, McClatchy Newspapers reports. A smart speaker saved the day in one case, inadvertently causing a New Mexico man to call police as he threatened his girlfriend and her child. ABC News reports that Eduardo Barros, 28, and his unidentified girlfriend were house-sitting near Albuquerque, N.M., on July 2 when the woman received a text message Barros saw the text message and became angry, accusing the woman of cheating on him. He then punched and kicked her, police told the station, before retrieving a gun and threatening to kill her. As he did so he asked her, “Did you call the sheriff’s?”

A smart home device was hooked up to a surround-sound speaker system and recognized Barros’ words as a command and called 911, said Bernalillo County Sheriff Department’s spokesperson Felicia Romero. Police responded to the call and were able to take the woman and the daughter out of the house. The girl was unharmed and the woman suffered only minor injuries and did not go to the hospital. Meanwhile, a SWAT team surrounded the house for several hours before taking Barros into custody. “The unexpected use of this new technology to contact emergency services has possibly helped save a life. This amazing technology definitely helped save a mother and her child from a very violent situation,” said Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales III.

from https://thecrimereport.org