Lennar plans to become an Amazon experience center that will sell and showcase a variety of smart home devices in Lennar’s model homes. This is a deepening of the two firms existing partnership, since Lennar had dumped Apple’s HomeKit last summer to focus on Amazon’s Echo and Amazon’s installers to build connected devices into Lennar homes.
Lennar will show off Amazon’s connected devices, Dash buttons and other connected products starting with model homes in 15 cities in the U.S. Amazon is also seeking other home builders for the program, but so far, Lennar is the first.
In a conversation earlier this year, David Kaiserman, who is president of Lennar Ventures, explained the firm’s relationship with Amazon and presaged the turning of the model home into retail showcase.
“One of the things we announced in June of last year was a partnership with Amazon, where they will come to every Lennar home and spend a couple of hours with every one of our customers to hook everything up and customize it for the way that you want,” Kaiserman says. He says that the service has been essential for people to experience and enjoy the connected home, because otherwise it’s too complicated for mainstream adopters.He says:
“People have been much more interested in ‘How do you set up that voice command and how does everything work together?’ We’ve been very focused on establishing suggestions, right? Voice commands, like movie time, or party time, or ‘Who’s at the front door?’ Or ‘Lock my front door.’ Getting people awareness around what they can do, not how it works.”
When Lennar sells a home, the future homewoners sit down with Amazon’s experts to figure out what commands they want to create and what the devices can do for them. Kaiserman says Lennar has a list of recommendations that Amazon shares with the Lennar customers and they spend a few hours customizing what they need.
“So if you’re a working mom you may want to be able to give someone access to your home during certain times of the day,” Kaiserman says. “That may be different than an active adult who wants to give their grandkids access less frequently, or it may be different than a millennial, who wants to be able to let nobody in unless they ring the front doorbell. We show them the tools that they have, and then we listen to their life, and we have a real human conversation and what you need, what we can provide, and we create a custom solution for every single homeowner.”
Kaiserman believes this isn’t just the future of homebuilding, it also represents a future retail avenue for retailers trying to sell smart home products. “There are many people who come by our model home centers, who want to see maybe the decorating ideas we have, maybe the floor plan ideas we have, maybe the home automation stuff that we have. We’re starting to see that the influence is not just directly to people that are buying homes, but that people are curious about how all these things work together,” he says. “You go to Best Buy, it’s very, very hard to understand how the whole system works together. You sit in a couch down in our living room and you say ‘Movie time.’ All the subsystems just fire at once, and you get that experience, and people are beginning to see that it’s about the sum of the parts and not the individual features.”
And that’s what Amazon needs to show normal consumers who aren’t early adopters if they want to become the portal for the next generation of computing associated with connected homes, cars and digital assistants. Lennar model homes are within 50 miles of two-thirds of the U.S. population, making it a within a reasonable day trip for a majority of Americans who want to invest in connected home tech. So the partnerships between the two companies makes tremendous sense for both.
And if you’re curious about the products in the Lennar homes, how it handles user data or why it dumped Apple’s HomeKit, listen to the entire interview below: