3 Alexa Routines to Use With Sound Triggers
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3 Alexa Routines to Use With Sound Triggers
Put Alexa's listening skills to good use with these great sound triggers.
Alexa can tell you a lot—what time it is, what the weather forecast looks like, when it’s time to take dinner out of the oven, and much more.
But the voice behind Amazon’s Echo line of smart speakers and displays happens to be a great listener, too. In fact, you can have Alexa listen for a handful of different sounds—a dog barking, a baby crying, water dripping, coughing, snoring, and beeping—then respond with a set of actions you determine, called a routine.
While you do need to dig into the settings in your Alexa app to build these sound-based routines, the process isn’t nearly as daunting as it may seem. And don’t worry if your imagination has left you hanging—we’ve got some great ideas that’ll help you put Alexa’s listening skills to good use.
1. Quiet Your Barking Dog
Dogs are supposed to bark—it’s one of the reasons we keep them around. Your dog’s bark can ward off an intruder or alert you to an arriving delivery, but incessant or unnecessary barking can also drive you up a wall. If your dog’s excessive barking has you at your wit's end, one of these routines might help shush your yappy pup.
First up, make sure to have downloaded the Amazon Alexa app for iOS or Android.
If this is your first time setting up an Alexa Routine, you might first want to check out our overview on how to set up sound-based Alexa Routines. The three steps we’ll focus on here are the settings for Enter Routine name, When this happens, and Add Action.
To create a routine based on Sound Detection, open the Alexa app and tap More in the lower-right corner. Then, at the top of the next screen, tap Routines. Next, tap Plus in the top-right corner.
For this first set of routines, you’ll want to name it something like Quiet Fido, then select Dog Barking under When this happens.
For the actions, there are two ways to approach quieting a barking dog—you know your dog better than anyone else does, so you’ll have to decide whether a sudden loud noise or a mid-volume masking noise is likely to hush your dog best.
To startle your dog, the following set of actions will crank the volume to 10, make a loud noise, then return the volume back to a less-deafening level:
- Device Settings > Volume > 10
- Sounds > [something loud, like Animals > Rooster or Bells and buzzers > Buzzer]
- Device Settings > Volume > [3 to 5, whatever is comfortable]
To lull your dog’s attention away from distractions (and keep it away), the following set of actions will turn up the volume slightly (just to drown out any other sounds), play a soothing and noise-dampening sound for a brief period, then return the volume to a normal level:
- Device Settings > Volume > 7 (or whatever’s comfortable)
- Music & Podcasts
- Under Play, type “white noise”
- Check the box next to Provider, then tap Amazon Music (it’s free)
- Check the box next to Timer, then choose a duration to play the white noise
- Tap Next
- Device Settings > Volume > [3 to 5, whatever is comfortable].
2. Snooze Your Sleeping Partner
It seems the only people who aren’t bothered by snoring are the ones who do it. If you’re stuck sleeping next to a snoremonger, you can either rouse them out of it to stop the snoring or dull the sound of their snoring so you can go back to sleep. These are a lot like the previous dog barking routines, just adjusted for humans who are sleeping.
Basically, you’ll want to repeat the steps from the previous example, only name this one something like Snore-be-gone. Then, try either the loud or soft set of actions above, only with the volume adjusted down by 1 to 3 notches.
3. Get Notified When Things Go Beep
Browsing the appliance section at your local big-box store, it may seem like every household device is “smart” these days. The reality, however, is most people still own good old-fashioned dumb appliances that can do little more than beep to get your attention.
If you’ve got an Amazon Echo device near one of these old-school appliances, you’re only one Alexa Routine away from turning those dumb beeps into smart (or at least smarter) notifications.
Name this routine something like Kitchen Beep or Bedroom Beep— note that you’ll want to keep it general since Alexa can’t distinguish what is beeping, just that something somewhere is beeping (even a loud enough ding coming from your phone can set it off). For When this happens, choose Appliance beeping.
But be forewarned: it’ll be up to you to discern what the beeping means. That’s as smart as this routine gets, at least for now.
There are several ways Alexa can notify you when something beeps. Here are the options and what they do:
- Alexa Says—Alexa will announce either a preset or custom message (“Something is beeping…”) on an Echo device, but you’ll have to add a separate action for each device you want Alexa to announce it from.
- Drop-In Notification—Alexa will send a push notification to the Alexa app on your phone — for example, “Something is beeping in the kitchen.”
- Messaging > Notification—Alexa will send a custom message as a push notification to your Alexa app, similar to Drop-In Notification above.
- Messaging > Send Announcement—Alexa will announce either a preset or custom message over all your Amazon Echo speakers all at once.
Alexa Sound Triggers Are Still in Beta, So Be Weary
Sound-based Alexa Routines are great when they work as intended. This feature is currently still in a stage of beta testing called Public Preview. That means regular everyday users can try it out, but Amazon doesn’t feel it’s quite ready for a broad public release. There are some good reasons why they might feel that way, too.
Fact is, Alexa’s response to sound triggers can sometimes be a bit janky. Although the action may be called Beeping Appliance, Alexa can’t distinguish between beeps coming from an appliance, a smartphone, a tablet, a computer, or even a TV.
As far as Alexa is concerned, a beep is a beep is a beep. So don’t be surprised if you set this up and end up getting some notifications that turn out to be other members of your household’s phones beeping.
Other sound triggers have issues, too. The Amazon Echo speaker in your living room set to listen for a dog barking might also pick up barks in some other part of the house or—even wilder—a dog that isn’t even yours barking outside. Snoring on TV could trigger a routine set to listen for snoring.
Make the Most of Alexa's Sound Triggers
Not even 10 years ago, the voice-assistant-controlled “smart home” (as we’ve come to understand it) didn’t even exist yet. Any new device or feature is liable to have some quirks, whether it’s in beta testing or not.
But Alexa's Sound Triggers open a wide variety of new ways to use Amazon's assistant around the home.
Dale Smith (2 Articles Published)
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