Amazon announced a boatload of new products during its September 2021 hardware event, and in all the excitement, many people overlooked Alexa’s new Custom Sound Detection feature. Coming next year, Custom Sound Detection lets you teach Alexa to identify new sounds to trigger notifications, routines, and other events.
Customers can teach Alexa new sounds by providing 10 audio samples to an Echo device or the Alexa mobile app. These samples go through an enrollment and training process in the cloud, although Amazon hasn’t told us how long this process takes. Once training is complete, you can program Alexa to respond to your custom sound with notifications or smart home actions.
Next year, you’ll be able to teach Alexa to recognize sounds that are unique to your home and use these sounds to initiate more customized Routines. Take the sound your refrigerator door makes when it’s left open, for example. Once you’ve taught Alexa to recognize this noise, you can use it to initiate a Routine that has Alexa send you a notification to close the door so your food doesn’t spoil.
Alexa users will find a ton of crazy complicated ways to use Custom Sound Detection, but we’re most interested in its potential as a simple accessibility tool. Someone who’s deaf or hard of hearing, for example, could receive a notification when their doorbell rings or when their dryer has finished a load of clothes.
Along with Custom Sound Detection, Amazon plans to launch an Ultrasound Occupancy Routines feature for select Echo devices. This feature bounces inaudible ultrasound waves around your living space to check if anyone’s home. An empty house could trigger Alexa to turn off all the lights and electronics, among other smart home actions.
These new Alexa features are coming next year. We aren’t sure which Echo devices will support them, so stay tuned for any updates. Also, be sure to read our full coverage of Amazon’s September 2021 product event.