Smart Home Device Calls Cops Over Domestic Violence, Leaves the Public With Questions

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These days, you’ll find many people with smart home devices—objects that are wired throughout your house to listen to your commands to turn off the lights, find a nearby pizza delivery place, and also, quite possibly, to save your life. Yes, while your usual use of devices like Google Home and Amazon Echo are more often than not used to change the thermostat in your apartment, they might be listening in on more than you think. Take for example a recent incident wherein a smart home device called the cops while overhearing domestic violence taking place. In this case, it turned out well, but the question remains as to whether these devices should even have such power to begin with.

How a Smart Home Device Saved a Life

According to SomeLife, the incident in question occurred at a home in Tijeras, New Mexico, a suburb of Albuquerque. The perpetrator, Eduardo Barras, was house-sitting with his girlfriend and her daughter inside a residence that featured a smart home device (in this case, Gizmodo reported it to be a Google Home). Apparently, Barras and his girlfriend got into a fight which turned violent when Barras pulled a gun out.

According to Bernalillo County Sheriff Department’s spokesperson, Deputy Felicia Romero, Barras asked his girlfriend if she had called the sheriffs. That’s when the Google Home kicked in, under the assumption that it was being prompted to call the police. Not long after, a SWAT team, along with several officers, were dispatched to the home. The incident was de-escalated, with the girlfriend being taken to the hospital for injuries. Fortunately, the child was not harmed.

“This amazing technology definitely helped save a mother and her child from a very violent situation,” said Sheriff Manuel Gonzales III in an interview with ABC.

What Does This Mean for Privacy?

While this particular incident helped save a life, what does this mean for the privacy? Honestly, any time that you wire your home to be monitored, you lose a bit of privacy. There have been cases where nanny cams have been hacked, and children watched without our knowledge. So why wouldn’t the same be possible for a smart home device?

This incident could have ended badly if the people in question had, been rehearsing a play, or watching TV. The Google Home device (or any other) could accidentally dispatch police officers into a home where nothing is happening. Worse, there could have been a violent end to the situation had the police shown up expecting a violent intruder only to mistake a resident for the perp (such as the case of Charleena Lyles).

What do you think? Will smart home devices do more good than harm or vice versa? Let us know in the comments.

(Image: Twitter / @Forbes)