How do you make sure that your Amazon Echo Spot camera is never going to record your every move in the bedroom? It’s a fantastic bedside clock, but people are often not comfortable with a camera staring at them beside their bed. We’ve got it totally disabled. Here’s how!
When it comes to disabling the camera on the Amazon Echo Spot, there are a few ways to do it, each with their own pros and cons:
You can disable the camera just by asking Alexa to do so — “Alexa, turn the camera off” is enough to do it! That is — assuming you trust that it definitely is off. Some people (like me) will also want to verify that in some visual way within settings… you can do that too.
Start by swiping down from the top of the Echo Spot’s screen and choose the Gear icon that you can find up at the top right:
On the settings screen that appears, scroll until you spot the “Device Options” section and then find the “Camera” option. Toggle that off! (If your voice command above worked, it should already be off!)
The mute button on your Echo Spot apparently also will cut power to the camera. This might not be the best solution if you want to permanently have the camera off while being able to chat with Alexa. If you’re looking for a temporary way to turn the camera off (especially if you are using the Drop In feature at times), just hit the mute button. Amazon says:
“When the Microphone/Camera Off button is pressed, the power to the camera and the microphones is disconnected and a dedicated red light is illuminated.” — Amazon
You’ll be able to tell when the device is muted as you’ll see the ring around the Echo Spot go red:
“Drop In” allows permitted contacts’ (e.g. your family/friends with Echo devices) to “drop in” to your Echo in a video call unannounced. It isn’t initially on, but there’s every chance you may have accidentally agreed to turn it on at some point.
If you aren’t keen on that feature, you can disable it via the Alexa app. Open up the Alexa app, then go to the “Communicate” tab. Then choose your name to go to your profile and ensure “Allow Drop In” is unticked:
Of course, the options above aren’t 100% fool proof. There’s always the slight chance that one day a hack or software bug will re-enable the camera within software. It may never happen, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.
My solution is to get a laptop webcam-style camera cover to physically cover up the camera. There’s no way anyone is seeing through that! The one I purchased was this Amazon Echo Spot Webcam Cover from Olixar — however this one isn’t perfectly designed for the Echo. I have a strong feeling it is just a webcam cover that has been repurposed. You’ll need to be careful with how you place it on the device. Most important bit of advice here:
Do not cover your Amazon Echo’s light sensor!
Your light sensor can be hard to spot, but if you shine a light at the Echo you can see a blueish dot:
I tried to ensure my cover was far away from the light sensor by placing my cover the other way — sliding to the right, rather than the left. See this image — the product image is on the left, my placement of a closed webcam cover is on the right:
Alternatively, there are some Echo Spot camera covers that do leave a space for the light sensor to be exposed. This one from Budesi covers the camera without covering the light sensor but at the time I couldn’t get this delivered to my far away home of Australia. Also… their product images sometimes look mirrored… and the mirrored version would not work with the sensor, so I’m not sure if I can trust this product (the left is correct, the right is not!):
While you’ll be able to block access to the camera with relatively solid certainty, keep in mind there’s a camera you hold closer to you most of the time — your smartphone. So be cautious with what that can see too if you’re concerned about privacy!
Overall, the Amazon Echo Spot is one of my favourite connected devices around and is perfect as a bedside clock — almost! By disabling the camera, it makes it much less intrusive day-to-day.