Amazon transforms model houses into Alexa-powered smart homes
- Amazon partnered with real estate giant Lennar to construct model homes that demonstrate the tech company's line of connected devices, according to a press release. People can visit the interactive Amazon Experience Centers, as the homes are called, to see how Alexa can control TVs, lights, blinds and thermostat with voice commands and serve as the control center for a connected home.
- The model homes also showcases how to integrate Amazon's e-commerce platform into consumers' everyday lives, including reordering household essentials through Dash buttons, viewing Prime content on a Fire TV or scheduling on-demand home services like cleanings through Amazon Home Services.
- Amazon is also offering a service that lets interested customers recreate the experience in their own house through in-home consultations for how to create a connected home. The model homes opened at select Lennar communities in Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C., with plans for other areas soon.
With its new Experience Centers, Amazon can control how its products are demonstrated, just as Apple's retail stores provide a dedicated showroom for products with well trained salespeople and on-hand tech support to guide customers through tours of new smartphones, tablets and watches. The centers appear to be carefully curated to immerse potential customers in a simulation of how their homes could function if they were to purchase Amazon's full line of connected devices that aim to streamline people's everyday activities. Essentially, these model homes serve as advanced sales centers, a clever strategy by the company to entice potential customers into buying hardware and fully embracing the Amazon ecosystem.
Through the custom model homes, Amazon is leading the move against competitors like Google and Apple to fully integrate a variety of smart devices into homes, with digital assistant Alexa as the command center to help people manage their daily routines.
Amazon likely also hopes these in-depth demonstrations will help some consumers overcome any resistance to the idea of handing over their personal information to a set of algorithms by showing how its its Alexa-enabled devices, Prime membership and home services can work together to make everyday life easier. However, there is still some strong opposition to connected homes and other personal devices. Only 10% of respondents in a Gartner survey said they owned smart home tech, while three-quarters said they prefer doing things manually. About 60% said they preferred separate, standalone devices rather than those that can be linked through a universal hub. Another hurdle Amazon will have to overcome are privacy concerns that webcams, locks and connected thermostats also may have security flaws that could expose people to ransomware or other hacker attacks.