Amazon has leveraged its Alexa fund, which makes capital available to companies in the hope that they will fuel voice technology innovation, to invest in a California start-up building prefabricated homes, Plant Prefab. This latest investment comes as the online retailer attempts to bake its Alexa voice assistant into every aspect of a user’s life, from their microwave to their wall clock.
Plant Prefab is able to build custom-built homes in a factory-controlled environment, with its method said to be far more sustainable than other prefab manufacturers. This is because of a secret technology used by the company, which it says provides a 50% reduction in construction time and between 15-25% reduction in overall cost. It’s not just in construction that the firm is utilising technology, however, as it also includes a connected home right from day one, thanks to the integration of devices such as the Nest Learning Thermostat.
It’s the integration of smart technology that has piqued Amazon’s interest in the firm. Plant Prefab’s CEO, Steve Glenn, has noted that the firm is committed to ‘making sure our homes meet our clients’ lifestyle needs, and having greater and more effective smart home technology and integration is part of that’.
It’s not yet known exactly what Amazon hopes to achieve from its investment in Plant Prefab, but it’s not hard to imagine Alexa-enabled new build homes being rolled out across the United States. After all, the firm has already signalled its desire to make the Alexa assistant ubiquitous, with an event last month showcasing a range of new devices that would put the smart assistant inside the car and new appliances; so, it’s not too big of a stretch to believe it would also want it baked into the home.