Amazon Echo

Amazon puts Alexa into new model smart homes

Teaming up with homebuilder Lennar, the digital assistant gets a place to call her own

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Not sure how Alexa could make your life easier? Amazon just opened a new way for people to see how its digital assistant Alexa can change a living space. Working with Lennar, a homebuilder based in Miami, Fla., Amazon is creating Alexa-enabled environments, hooking up televisions, lights, thermostats, shades and other smart devices — including ways to order refills on your laundry detergent. (Yes, from Amazon.)

The homes will be voice-enabled, and routines are being set-up to illustrate the way people can get details from one simple sentences such as "Alexa, good morning."

Showrooms are growing into a popular way to illustrate how connected devices work together in homes. Control4 just opened 140 such spaces this week, hoping customers will come in and get their hands on devices such as smart thermostats and smart locks.

While people can certainly create their own smart home spaces, buying items here and there and linking them together, knowing which products work with Alexa and which ones work with Google Home, or another digital assistant can be confusing. Having all of that handled from the moment a house is built can take a lot of guesswork out — as long as those platforms, and those smart products, are still supported for as long as someone lives in their home.

Lennar is already building new, connected homes with Amazon, which comes with Wi-Fi already in the home, along with smart locks, doorbells, thermostats and locks — all of which work with Alexa.

People who buy these Alexa- enabled houses actually launch their devices on Amazon's web site, or can book an appointment to get someone to teach them how to run the products. The Ring Video Doorbell Pro, Rachio Sprinkler Controller and Philips Hue lights are just some of the devices Amazon is highlighting on its site to work with in the new Lennar-built smart homes.

The model homes to showcase the technology are called Amazon Experience Centers, with the first spaces now open in eight major cities including Dallas, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Orlando, with other sites expected soon.

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