Amazon Funds Housing Start-Up to Put Alexa in Custom Homes

Amazon recently invested in Plant Prefab, a company that builds custom prefabricated homes, in hopes of integrating Alexa into its construction. With Alexa built-in to their homes, homeowners can virtually control their doorbells, lights, and more. Amazon contributed $6.7 million to Plant Prefab using their Alexa Fund, which aims to develop applications for Alexa.

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Amazon Alexa Integrated into New Home Construction

Currently, Amazon controls 70% of the smart-speaker industry, right ahead of Google at 24% and Apple at 6%. However, as Google sold more smart-speakers than Amazon last year, Amazon has expanded even further into people’s homes. They’ve created smart appliances like clocks and microwaves, and are now looking to be built in to the fabric of houses. Similarly, Google has collaborated with home builders to integrate Google Assistant and Siri into residences. As over 600,000 new homes are sold in the U.S in the past year alone, there’s a huge opportunity for tech giants to integrate their smart home products into the home’s construction itself.

Prefab homes are not new. They are generally associated with trailers and other housing for low-income residents. Plant Prefab, in contrast, builds upscale, modern homes. By using prefabricated materials, they can finish homes in two months, much less than the 12 months that construction would take with a traditional contractor. They also reduce labor costs by having their factor in Rialto, a suburban community 50 miles from Los Angeles. On average, Plant Prefab cuts construction costs 10% to 25%.

Plant Prefab is not the first home builder to partner with Amazon. Lennar Corp, one of the largest home builders in the U.S, collaborated with Amazon in a series of model homes dubbed the Amazon Experience Centers. Prospective clients can visit the model homes and see how Alexa integrates into the home environment.

For the majority of people who are not building a new home, Amazon offers installation for many of their smart home devices. Amazon employees assist customers in choosing what products they want, and then help them install what they purchased. As smart home technology is relatively new, more people than normal were returning what they bought, so Amazon decided to invest in their own experts. Naturally, building homes with Alexa already built-in eliminates the problem of installation, creating a more seamless user experience.

Aliza Vigderman

Aliza Vigderman

Aliza is a journalist living in Brooklyn, New York. Throughout her career, her work has spanned many intersections within the tech industry. At SquareFoot, a New York-based real estate technology company, she wrote about the ways in which technology has changed the real estate industry, as well as the challenges that business owners face when they want to invest in property. At Degreed.com, an education technology website, Aliza created digital content for lifelong learners, exploring the ways in which technology has democratized education. Additionally, she has written articles for The Huffington Post as well as her own content on Medium, the online publishing platform. Aliza’s love of journalism and research stems from the excellent Journalism program at Brandeis University. At Brandeis, Aliza interned as a research assistant at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit “news room without walls”. There, Aliza was paired with an investigative journalist and used academic databases to obtain data on everything from the suicide rates in Bhutan to local Boston court cases. Her last position was as an account executive at Yelp, educating business owners on the power of technology to increase revenue. Throughout, however, her heart remained with tech journalism, and she’s thrilled to be writing for Security Baron. When she’s not keeping afloat of the latest tech trends, Aliza likes to cook, read, and write. A former high school “Class Clown,” Aliza has completed two feature-length screenplays, a pilot, and countless comedic sketches. On her days off you can find her relaxing in Prospect Park, trying the latest flavors at Ample Hills Ice Cream, and spending time with friends and family.

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