Amazon admits imagination isn’t enough – “We wanted customers to experience a real home environment that showcases the convenience of the Alexa smart home experience, great entertainment available with Prime, and Home Services.”
That’s from Nish Lathia, General Manager of Amazon Services, and he’s referring to Amazon recognising the need for some bricks & mortar - physical home spaces where you can experience a “smart home”.
Which is why the big online specialist has teamed up with US home builder Lennar Homes (see photo above), which was founded in 1954 and builds homes in 21 states (www.lennar.com).
Lennar-built showhomes around North America (see photo above) have been “transformed” into Amazon Experience Centers (amazon.com/experience) featuring the latest smart and connected technology, as well of course as Amazon Prime, Home Services, automated deliveries etc…
Amazon Experience Centers are open in Lennar model homes in Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC with more coming soon.
The homes are kitted out by Amazon’s own people with a full range of products from variously Amazon itself (Echo, Dash, Cloud Cam), Sonos (smart speakers), Baldwin and Kwikset (smart locks), Honeywell (the Wi-Fi Thermostat), Lutron (with its Smart Bridge Pro occupancy sensor), Ring doorbells (now of course owned by Amazon), iRobot vacuums and a Samsung SmartThings Hub.
Lennar Homes’ marketing is all about being smart, connected and guaranteed: “World’s First Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Home Design, Activation and Support by Amazon… New homebuilding approach embraces Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Home Design to enable seamless voice control, shopping and home automation” etc.
Amazon of course also hopes to spread its Experience Centers to other builders’ homes backed up as they are by the use of its own Smart Home Services teams (think Geek Squad – https://amzn.to/2Gf1tfb) making it easy for builders, by designing, installing, activating and supporting its ranges of smart products – and then marketing the end result!
UK industry feels the need for another smart home push – On the other side of the Atlantic, the week of 21-27 May this year saw a relatively high profile consumer campaign in the UK dedicated to highlighting the best smart products across the smart home market.
Funded by some big names in connected home products, the purpose of the second Smart Home Week was to “inform, educate and reassure UK consumers about the benefits and opportunities of living in a smart, connected way”.
It set out to address “current concerns about complexity, reliability and data security”, as well as any other smart home related queries.
Sponsors ranged from Yale, Ring, Samsung and Philips to Google, Amazon and ebay, with other companies, including manufacturers, installers, stockists and retailers also signing up.
The organisation’s stats from 2017 indicate that although interest in, understanding and awareness of connected home products is high in the UK (85% had heard of a smart home), only a quarter of those surveyed actually had some smart capabilities in their home.
According to Smart Home Week, the key smart home drivers are energy saving (41%), security (23%) and entertainment (11%) and only a third of those surveyed would be happy to DIY their own connected home.