An Amazon Echo may be the key to solving a murder case


28th of December, 2016 1002C time

Posted 15 hours ago by Sarah Buhr (@sarahbuhr)

Internet-connected devices may start helping in criminal cases. As first reported in The Information, police in Bentonville, Arkansas have issued a warrant to Amazon, asking the company to hand over data from an Echo device to help prosecute a suspected murderer.

James Andrew Bates, the suspect in the case, was charged with first-degree murder in November of 2015 after authorities found victim Victor Collins strangled and drowned in Mr. Bates’ hot tub.

Mr. Bates told police he’d invited Collins and two other friends, Owen McDonald and Sean Henry, over to watch a football game and said he decided to go to bed about 1 a.m., leaving the victim and McDonald to hang out and drink in his hot tub.

According to Bates’ affidavit, he found Collins face down in the water when he woke up several hours later. However, McDonald says he left Bates and Collins around 12:30 a.m., which was a story confirmed by McDonald’s wife.

According to phone records, Bates was also texting a woman throughout the evening and had placed several calls to his dad, other friends (including McDonald) and the Flying Fish restaurant. None of the calls went through and Bates told police these were accidental butt dials.

Bates has several internet-connected devices in his home, including a Nest thermostat and a Honeywell alarm system, but the key witness in the case may be his Amazon Echo, which, as per The Information, police records say could have controlled the streaming music, which was being wirelessly transmitted throughout the night using Echo’s assistant Alexa.

However, it’s unclear how much data police could extract from the device or how useful that data would be in the case. Alexa is always listening through a system of seven built-in microphones but waits for you to say the “wake word” to send it commands, like asking for the weather or which music to play, according to the company. The device also streams your audio to the cloud, including a fraction of a second of audio before the wake word.

I agree, Amazon should hold off until the warrant.

On a less serious note,I wonder how the integration of Alexa went? ;-)
I just integrated the Alexa with our lighting system (RadioRa2) and Harmony Hub. Went well and is really a nice addition to the house. I bought 4, two for the kids rooms, one for the master, and one for kitchen/living room. Whole family really likes Alexa. Harmony is a little more annoying since to use individual controls like Play/Pause/VolUp/VolDown, you have to use "Alexa, tell Harmony to pause TV" or similar. Overall, really liking Alexa. Only thing is, I should have bought the larger Echo since I incorrectly assumed I could use the line out on the Dot as a line in on the kids Sonos Play 5s but you still have to use the Sonos app to play from line in. I may be selling Sonos soon but I'll wait for the early 2017 integration with Alexa.
dgage said:
 I may be selling Sonos soon but I'll wait for the early 2017 integration with Alexa.
Likewise, mine have seen no use since the Alexa devices have been here.  Sonos has truly missed the boat on this.  I fully expect their 'integration' is only going to be for new devices.  Which will turn existing devices into boat anchors.  Sell 'em now while they're still worth something.
Pete_c - if you don't want this discussion here, I'll start a new thread.

Any ideas on a whole-home audio system to work with Alexa? I did a quick search but didn't find anything...yet.
It doesn't matter.  That said the thread/draw to it did get some comments.
The whole house zoned audio Amazon Alexa integration has come up above under home automation.
The above said there are many folks here using zoned audio systems which are wired and many that utilize Sonos these days.
I do not want to bash Sonos here but my preferences relate to a wired zoned amplifier over a wireless system.  That is me.
There are a few folks today just using the Sonos mothership as a source for audio connecting it to their zoned audio amplifiers.
You can just plug an Amazon DOT audio output to one source on your zoned audio system.
Not sure on the syncing of sound that uses wireless transport.  I have had issues with that doing remote sapi or streaming audio from different devices and seeing the audio out of sync.
IE: here utilize sound and sapi on each of the Homeseer clients (or touchscreens).  Noticed over the years that the sounds from the touchscreens which are sourced from the mothership are never in sync.  I also connect the audio output from the Homeseer boxes to my Russound zoned audio.  Every zoned audio using same source is always in sync.
I'll just hold on the WHA for a while. I have a bunch of NHT IC4, which are 8" ceiling speakers with 3 tweeters in a little array. Sound nice but I haven't deployed them around the house yet. I'd want a more central configuration as opposed to using Echo Dot line out in a given room. Thanks for the info.
Here is a Leviton guide relating to WHA wiring and stuff.  It was a PITA here to wire up 16/4 cable for the zoned audio.
I purchased the in wall speakers in bulk / cases a year or two before starting the endeavor.
I initially used 16/4 and cat5e to a box in the wall and then 16/2 for the speakers and initially utilized the Leviton Digital Chopin stuff connecting the speakers to an AB8SS speaker control box which went to one amplifier back then.  
There are wiring guides posted here on the Cocoontech forum.
Leviton Residential Distributed Audio Wiring Practices
View attachment UTF-8'en-us'3822_WP_Residential_Audio_Wiring_Practices.pdf
Another wiring guide
Wiring for Whole House Distributed Audio
I already have wires ready to go from the basement and into the attic. I just need a central control hub and just haven't prioritized it. I bought Sonos Play5s and that worked well for a while but when I take my kids devices, then they bother me to change the station. Was hoping the Echo Dot with line out would be the answer but with Sonos it wasn't. Soon enough I'll go with a solution that is compatible with the Echo Dor since I'm pretty happy with it overall.

And hopefully I won't have any major crimes occur in my house where authorities might want Amazon's data. And hopefully security is good enough on the Amazon side to ensure the Echos don't get hijacked.
Yup here with the Russound  have tested multiple remote controlled sources of audio using may tabletop touchscreens and RPi devices running KODI or Squeezebox players or house AVRs. 
You can also add multiple Russound BTC-1X trancievers for more remote audio sources.
Any zoned amplifier would work in this fashion.
Currently have a mini serial server attached to the Russound zoned amps which allow my OmniPro consoles and Homeseer to control the audio.  Also have Russound keypads (consoles) in place.
Still tinkering here with the Amazon Echo I like it but do not want to depend on it for my automation stuff or audio stuff; that is me though. 
On the Homeseer side using a Kinect and Alexa plugin today.  On the OmniPro 2 side testing RSW686's Smarthings/OP2 integration with the Amazon Echo.
Tested the Amazon Bluetooth microphone way back (when the Echo was first introduced) to work fine here when placing the Amazon Echo in the family room, microphone off and using the remote bluetooth device anywhere in the house (2nd floor, main floor and basement).