Police reportedly raided a 3 am house party after complaints by neighbors — only to find an Amazon Echo smart speaker playing music to no one at full volume.
On returning to the apartment, owner Oliver Haberstroh was greeted by a bill for a replacement door lock, which police had fitted after breaking into the property. Alexa — the speaker's voice-activated personal assistant — had mistakenly heard commands from outside to play music as loud as possible, says Haberstroh, according to a public Facebook post he wrote to Amazon.
"While I was relaxing and enjoying a beer, Alexa managed on her own, without command and without me using my mobile phone, to switch on at full volume and have her own party in my apartment," writes Haberstroh in his Facebook post translated from German.
He goes on to explain: "I was perfectly happy with your service and Alexa. However, since Friday night the relationship between Alexa and me has taken a turn around. You could say 'it is complicated' and things have gone so far that we now unfortunately have to go our separate ways."
Haberstroh's incident also made the local newspaper in Hamburg, Germany where he lives, after he claims he left his apartment to meet friends on Friday night (November 3). While he was away, Alexa switched the music back on and played it at full volume between 1:50 am and 3 am. Haberstroh's neighbors then called the police.
After returning home, Haberstroh found the police had broken the door down and fitted a replacement lock, which he had to pay for after collecting new keys from the police station.
Haberstroh wondered if someone could have controlled Alexa from outside, but being on the sixth floor and claiming his windows were closed that night, he doubts this would be possible and is using the Facebook post to ask Amazon for an explanation.Through voice commands, or via the smartphone app, Alexa is able to play music from Spotify and Amazon Music. The Echo's microphone sometimes picks up instructions from voices on the television, or confuses nearby conversation with questions or requests.
In our experience, this usually results in her accidentally telling a joke or reading out the weather forecast, but if the right words were said it could theoretically be possible for a neighbor, passer-by, or even next door's loud television to trick Alexa into playing music.
You can also visit GearBrain's What Works with Amazon Alexa to see the connected devices that work with Amazon Echo and Alexa enabled devices.