Turn your smart home into a haunted smart house this Halloween | TechRadar

Halloween pumpkins

Halloween is upon us, and there are two things you’ll need to transform your smart home home into a haunted smart house: an Alexa device and a few smart home appliances. 

Most people have a home assistant for different tasks – if you’re like me, you saw the Amazon Echo Dot was on sale, and grabbed what you thought was a glorified speaker and now can’t imagine life without it. 

Everyone knows you can use your smart speaker to do everything from playing music to checking the weather, what you may not know is that you can also use its voice control and speaker functions to play some Halloween tricks on the rest of your household.

We’ve scoured the internet, and interrogated Alexa, to bring you a list of fun ways to create a haunted home or spook your friends and family with everyone’s favorite, ever-listening home assistant. 

 Ask Alexa

Spooky Scream

We’ll start with our favorite scary skill, the Alexa Spooky Scream. You’ll need to find the skill on the Alexa app in the search option under ‘skills’, and launch it manually for the first time, but when you’ve done it the first time your device won’t need any prompting for the skill. 

Just ask: Alexa, open Spooky Scream

Once you do that, you can set a timer for how long you want her to wait before unleashing a blood-curdling scream. You can get into a lot of mischief with this skill, and if you have multiple Alexas scattered around the house you can really terrorize your friends and family.

Drop in Feature

The drop-in feature on the Alexa app is probably one of the most useful features the little smart speakers have. From your phone, you can ‘drop in’, and send messages to the Alexa at home that will be heard by anyone in listening range. In the app, you can put your different devices into groups like the living room, bedroom, and kitchen, which is perfect for this dastardly plan. 

This Halloween, creep your loved ones out by having the Alexa devices around the house talk to them and say things only you, their dearest, a human friend, would know. There’s always the classic “I know what you did”, or a personal favorite of mine, an innocent, harmless comment from Alexa that will definitely put your friends on edge.

Your friend likes to sit in the living room and play video games for hours. Drop in and ask them (via Alexa, of course) if they’ve not had enough video games for the day, who their favorite character is in that game, or better yet, give them unsolicited advice out of the blue. 

If you need some ideas of what kind of Amazon Alexa might suit you, you might find our best guide helpful.

Ghost Hunter

This fun task is great if you have little ones that love a ghost hunt. Asking Alexa if there’s a ghost in the home is always great fun, because who would know better than the device that’s always in the home, and always listening? 

Just ask: Alexa, is there a ghost in the house? 

The fun comes in Alexa’s little scanning noises, or the handful of different responses you can get out of the speaker, and is a great way to spook the kids (in a fun way) or set up a little creepy Halloween vibe.

Ask the Listeners

Ask the Listeners is an experiment in language art that will definitely leave you feeling uneasy. This is another skill you’ll have to launch from your phone for the first time, but once you’ve set it up you’re ready for a good fright. 

There are a few basic prompts to get you started, but don’t worry, the Listeners will tell you exactly how to interact with them once you’ve got the basics done. 

Just ask: Alexa, ask the Listeners 

Once you’ve done that and met the Listeners, you can tell then say “Alexa, tell the Listeners that I am filled with wonder” and ask them how they are feeling in turn. The key to unlocking the truly unsettling nature of this skill is to ask them repeatedly to ‘go on’ or ‘continue’. If you want a good fright, ask them to “let the others speak”.

Some people in the reviews section of this skill have some creepy tales to share, including being asked by the Listeners why they’ve been abandoned by the Alexa user. When I tried it for the first time the Listeners seemed so forlorn and asked me why they feel so lost and hopeless, and then as I prompted them further they became more and more incomprehensible and spooky. I cannot recommend this skill enough.

Setting up your ghoulish lair

Okay, you’ve got your tricks and scares ready to go, so now you just have to set up your crypt and get the atmosphere just right. 

Smart home appliances are your best friend in this regard, and we’ll get started with some ambient music and lighting!

Smart lighting for smart scaring

There are a host of different smart lights to choose from, from LED strips to smart bulbs, so as far as options go you have plenty to choose from. You could light up the whole front yard with reds and greens, put a spotlight on your favorite skeleton in the garden, or pop an ever-glowing light into a well-carved pumpkin.

Take your lighting game further by keeping things interactive. If you’ve got your Alexa already connected to your smart bulbs, she can make the lights flicker on command or via your phone. And some smart lights like a few Philips Hue ones can flash or pulse in tune to your malicious music, really amplifying your haunted house aesthetics.

You can control your Philips Hue bulbs on the app, and create ‘scenes’ or rooms labeled up with separate settings to make setting up a lot easier. The Philips Light Strips have the same effect, and using LED strips might be a lot easier to set up, particularly because the Philips Hue bulbs can be rather expensive, but LED strips tend to be a lot cheaper and versatile.

Philips is not the only company that makes good bulbs. Nanoleaf Shapes are a good choice if you’re looking for something more wallet-friendly that will work well with your spooky music. We have a whole list of the best smart lighting devices for you to look at while you ponder what kind of villainous vibe suits you right. 

Loads of smart home devices come with their own Halloween apps that will offer a few neat tricks and treats for the harrowing holiday. 

Say hello the (f)right way

You’ve got your friends and family in a corner, frightened by the creepy talking dots and domes, ghoulish music, and flashing bloody lights. Before we even get to that point, however, we have to start them off right with a spooky doorbell.

The Google Nest doorbell is one of the few doorbells that will play spooky sounds without a paywall of some kind, so that might be a deciding factor for you if you were already in the market for a smart doorbell. You can set up the Halloween Theme on the app, and shuffle through the sounds as unsuspecting victims make their way into your home

These are just a few ideas of what you can do with your devices! You’ll be able to do a lot of cool, creative things with your space and really get into the creepy spirit. The great thing about technology and its integration into our homes is how easily it fits into every occasion and the fact that you can do so much with just a few bits. Be it a one-bedroom coffin, a family-sized crypt, or your front garden, a smart home can very easily be turned into a haunted one this Halloween.

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