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Police say smart home device alerted them to alleged assault

Commentary: In New Mexico, a smart speaker is said to have thwarted a threatening situation by apparently misinterpreting a question as an instruction.

 Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Smart Home Product Shoot

It's unclear what sort of smart home device may have been involved.

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"Did you call the sheriffs?" 

That allegedly was the question asked by Eduardo Barros of his girlfriend, while they were house-sitting with his girlfriend's daughter in Tijeras, New Mexico.

As ABC News reports, Barros and his girlfriend had allegedly begun to argue. Barros was, police say, threatening her with a firearm.

The smart home device, however, seems to have taken the question "Did you call the sheriffs?" as an instruction. It reportedly called 911. 

Soon, sheriffs arrived and de-escalated the situation. The smart home device was said to be connected to a surround-sound speaker system.

"The unexpected use of this new technology to contact emergency services has possibly helped save a life. This amazing technology definitely helped save a mother and her child from a very violent situation," Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales III told ABC News.

The Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. 

It's unclear what sort of smart home device was found in the house. (Editors' note, July 11: What we do know now is that the victim said "Alexa, call 911." But Amazon says its Alexa voice assistant can't make 911 calls. For more on that, see this story.)

Once police, negotiators and a SWAT team had arrived, it reportedly took several hours before Barros gave himself up.

Court records show that he now faces several charges, including aggravated battery against a household member, aggravated assault against a household member, false imprisonment and possession of a firearm or destructive device by a felon. 

He is due to appear in court on Monday.

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