Amazon Announces Totally Connected Model Smart Homes — But Is That What People Want?

Amazon Announces Totally Connected Model Smart Homes — But Is That What People Want?

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Melissa Massello
May 10, 2018
(Image credit: Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock)

Not content to simply take over your library, grocery, cable TV, and radio habits, Amazon wants to show you firsthand what life would look like if your home were fully kitted out with every Amazon technology product and service — or, as Gizmodo said yesterday, "a future that nobody wants."

By partnering with Lennar Corporation, currently the largest home construction company in the US, Amazon has created model homes (called Experience Centers) that masquerade as guerrilla marketing for its every smart home product and service — enticing consumers to try before they buy, if you will, its vision for a Big Bezos future in every American household.

Inside each Lennar model smart home, kitted out with Amazon's every product line, the retail giant is hoping to immerse consumers in interactive "real home experiences" — all driven by Alexa, of course. The model homes have TVs connected to Amazon's Fire TV system, Dash buttons that can reorder goods from Amazon, and Alexa-enabled products that allow customers to voice-control the lights, TV, shades and other appliances.

Amazon Experience Centers are currently open at Lennar communities in Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC with more coming soon, but virtual tours of each model smart home Experience Center are available on the Amazon landing page. Included are photos and sample scripts for Alexa with detailed presets so consumers can "experience first-hand the convenience of the Alexa smart home experience and more in a real home environment." You can even get a detailed list of how to recreate the experience of each city's signature smart home in your own home with Amazon products and services, and helping hands from Amazon Home Services, if your heart so desires.

"Amazon's ability to bring a home to life with Alexa smart home experiences, entertainment and services — coupled with their obsession with customer experience — is a natural extension of our Everything's Included approach to homebuilding," said David Kaiserman, president of Lennar Ventures, in a press release on Wednesday.

But is this a future smart home experience that any, even existing, Amazon customer actually wants? Personally, I love my Prime TV but I'm too creeped out by the privacy concerns and (pun intended) echoes of Fahrenheit 451 to even unbox the Alexa gadget my dad gifted me and my husband for Christmas last year, and am convinced that it's still spying on me anyway, so I can't imagine having an entire house hard-wired to snoop on and transmit my every lifestyle habit back to Amazon HQ. Maybe I'm too invested in Westworld, but shouldn't we all be a bit wary of handing over the keys to our personal kingdoms to AI?

And Amazon is not alone in this quest to get those keys. As CNBC reports, Apple has taken a similar approach, teaming with homebuilders like Brookfield Residential to create model new homes with HomeKit-ready products that can be controlled from an iPhone or iPad and with the help of Apple's Siri assistant.

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