Major home builder Lennar has broken ground on a 385-home complex in Florida in which the new residences will have Amazon's Alexa voice-activated virtual assistant built-in to control energy, security and lighting functions throughout the home, according to a report from Curbed Miami.
The news comes a week after Lennar unveiled a WiFi-enabled smart home near Austin, TX, that incorporates Alexa for control of smart home functions, according to KXAN TV in Austin.
Both reports come about nine months after Amazon teamed up with Lennar and WiFi technology provider Ruckus Wireless to further Lennar's plan to create WiFi Alliance-Certified smart home designs.
This effort seems largely driven by home developers' desires to lure buyers with the promise of fully enabled smart homes, though Amazon appears to be all-in on the partnership, with space on its website dedicated to products for the Lennar smart homes, such as the Baldwin Evolved Smart Lock and Ring Smart Video Doorbell, as well as information about activation and support services Amazon provides for owners of the smart homes.
Amazon has been steadily working to expand Alexa functionality to more devices, including smart appliances, such as a smart refrigerator from LG. It also has developed an Alexa skill that can be used to control cooking functions on new microwave ovens from a variety of suppliers.
Amazon also has shown how Alexa can be the command center of smart home functions through other efforts, like its partnership with Ring. Last year, Amazon demonstrated how the screen-enabled Echo Show could be used with systems like Ring's smart doorbell to provide video monitoring of the front door of a home. So, it's not too surprising to see Alexa become a central feature in a leading home builder's smart home designs. It seems like a logical next step as Amazon tries to carve out a major role for itself in the smart home market.
It will be interesting to see where things go from here. Lennar appears to have nationwide plans for this kind of smart home design, and these homes could provide a big stage for Alexa as Lennar expands its smart home designs to more markets. This should also help further Amazon's own smart home strategy, and Alexa's place in it. As the company faces more competition on this front from Google, Apple and others, the company will need more major partners across other industries to help it stay well ahead of the pack. Lennar looks right at home in that role.