Amazon locks in Alexa home integration with Plant Prefab investment
Amazon's Alexa Fund has invested in Plant Prefab, a startup focused on building pre-fabricated single-family and multi-family homes. Thanks to the investment, Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant is set to be integrated into Plant Prefab's homes, that company's CEO confirmed to Fast Company.
The report did not detail how much Amazon contributed to Plant Prefab's $6.7 million Series A funding round along with Obvious Ventures. The startup uses sustainable materials and focuses on keeping home-building costs low, according to Fast Company.
The news comes a week after Amazon held a major Alexa-related news event at which it announced several new and updated Echo devices, new Alexa smart home features and kid-focused Alexa features.
This is not Amazon's first engagement with a home builder. Last year, Amazon aligned with home builder Lennar to create smart home designs. At the beginning of 2018, Lennar followed that up with a plan to build out a community of 385 news homes with Alexa integrated from the start.
Given the partnership with Lennar, seeing Amazon's Alexa Fund invest in a home builder doesn't come as a complete surprise. Still, why is Amazon so keen to extend itself beyond its core e-commerce and retail sectors? The simple answer is that with a voice-powered virtual assistant technology like Alexa, every industry and every market is within logical reach for Amazon.
Last week's bundle of announcements was another confirmation of that notion, as Amazon unveiled devices that put Alexa into cars, microwave ovens and alarm clocks. Alexa Guard, for example, turns Alexa into a virtual watchdog of users' homes while they are away from home.
Amazon likely isn't satisfied just to have Alexa play a more important role in consumers' homes, but also in their lives. Alexa's new kid-related features speak to that aim. For example, the new feature Kid Routines allows parents to create pre-configure routines for their kids through Alexa like a "Good Night Routine," in which saying "Alexa, good night" activates Alexa to offer a customized message, turn off room lights and turn on white noise to help kids sleep.
Amazon's ultimate goal for Alexa may be ubiquity. If Alexa is with all of us regardless of age, morning, noon and night, and throughout our homes and even in our cars, it's getting pretty close to achieving that goal.
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