Amazon’s Echo speakers can now detect people: Here’s how it works

By: |
November 15, 2021 3:19 PM

Now, I know what you’re thinking! ‘It sounds cool, but how will it help?’ Read on to know.

Amazon is not the first to add the ultrasound functionality to its smart speakers.

Echo, Echo Dot speakers: If you kept tabs on Amazon’s announcements during its fall event this September, you would have come across the tech giant’s announcement that Echo and Echo Dot speakers would soon be able to detect people. And now, the devices have indeed been equipped with the capability to do so. This week onwards, Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot fourth-generation speakers would be able to use ultrasound to detect where the room has people present. The feature can be enabled or disabled by users in the Alexa app.

Now, I know what you’re thinking! ‘It sounds cool, but how will it help?’ Well… The Alexa app will also let users set up occupancy routines, like asking Alexa to ensure that lights are switched on when the Echo speaker detects people in the room, and switching off the lights when it is empty. It can also be ordered to tune into the radio between a particular period if someone is present in the room, and switching it off when the room is vacant.

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This capability can be found under Alexa app settings’ ‘Motion Detection’ tab, and it can be done for each compatible Echo device. This is where users can choose to enable or disable this functionality, which means that if a user has more than one Echo device having this feature, they can choose if all of them would make use of this capability or not.

Echo speakers’ people detection feature seems to be an extension of the capability that is already available in newer versions of Echo Show. However, while the latter depends on its camera to see if people are present or not, the Echo and Echo Dot speakers detect human presence in a room by emitting inaudible ultrasound waves, which reflect off nearby objects and then travel back to the device’s microphone.

Amazon is not the first to add the ultrasound functionality to its smart speakers. Google’s Nest smart displays and Nest Mini speakers already use ultrasound to check how close a person is to the device and then present different interfaces, like volume controls. However, Google’s devices do not use this technology, yet, to trigger a home routine.

However, it is not yet known how this functionality would impact the battery performance of wireless Echo Dot speakers.

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