Amazon is partnering with one of the largest U.S. homebuilders to construct Alexa-powered model homes across the nation.
Lennar is building the so-called “Amazon Experience Centers" to demonstrate how Alexa can operate virtually all of a home's appliances and electronic devices. Under the guise of convenience, Alexa, a voice-activated digital assistant, can be called upon to control every facet of daily life at home.
“For Amazon, it's another example of how badly it wants to be in your home,” CNBC reported. “Doing so lets it collect valuable data on how you purchase goods.”
Amazon officially announced its partnership with Lennar on Wednesday.
How does it work?
The Dallas Morning News explained what life is like in a home run by Alexa:
It’s time to cook dinner, so Dad speaks into the kitchen counter’s Echo Show and asks Alexa to display various lasagna recipes. He slides through them on the screen and picks one. He makes a quick video call to his parents, who also have an Echo Show.
Cooking is done. While dinner bakes, he tells Alexa to inform his son that it’s movie time. Upstairs, Alexa speaks up on the Echo Dot.
Downstairs in the open-floor-plan living room, Alexa is lowering the window shades, dimming the lights and turning on the TV equipped with the Fire TV Stick.
It’s the end of the day. Dad’s already in bed and exhausted. There’s no need to get up and make sure all the doors are locked. The Echo Spot on the nightstand takes the command and the Baldwin deadbolts click.
Underneath all of the the attractive features are some sobering privacy concerns.
"The newfound privacy conundrum presented by installing a device that can literally listen to everything you’re saying represents a chilling new development in the age of internet-connected things," the tech website Gizmodo reported. "By buying a smart speaker, you’re effectively paying money to let a huge tech company surveil you."
Where is this being wheeled out?
Dallas, one of the fastest-growing areas in the country, is a key market for the Lennar model smart homes. Other Lennar experience centers are located in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, according to the report. Amazon also has plans to add more cities.
One Amazon Experience Lennar home is located in a new subdivision of Far North Dallas, where several developers are planning to build 700 new homes, the Morning News reported.
“So far, we’ve activated about 180 homes and there are many others in the finishing stages,” Jacquese Smith, Dallas manager for Amazon Smart Home Services, told the Morning News.
Lennar’s homes in the Dallas area are priced in the $450,000 to $550,000 range and are outfitted with “commercial grade Wi-Fi ready to handle all the Amazon and other branded devices that a homeowner wants to install,” according to the report.
The model Alexa home is located within walking distance of the University of Texas at Dallas, and near a potential headquarters site for Amazon. The company is looking for a site for a second headquarters and Dallas is said to be one of 20 finalists.
But that isn’t all.
Lennar plans to close on 2,200 homes this year in the Dallas-Fort Worth market. About one-half of those homes are being sold as “Wi-Fi certified with Amazon technology,” according to the report.