- Amazon is one of the investors that contributed to a $6.7 million funding round to home prefabrication company Plant Prefab through its Amazon Alexa Fund. Plant Prefab is known for its focus on sustainable home fabrication and smart technologies.
- The investment comes on the heels of Amazon announcing a number of new Alexa-compatible devices, including smart home products like a microwave and wall clock, as reported by The Verge.
- Earlier this year, home builder Lennar forged a deal with Amazon to have Alexa-controlled elements — including Wi-Fi, smart locks, doorbells and thermostats — come as standard features in its new homes, reports USA Today. This year Amazon also purchased smart doorbell creator Ring, reports Architectural Digest.
The Amazon Alexa Fund was set up a few years ago to provide venture capital to fuel voice technology innovation. Knowing that the fund is where this investment in Plant Prefab comes from, plus Amazons's other smart home investments, speculation is swirling that the online giant is further expanding it's push to integrate Alexa-powered devices into entire homes. In addition, the press release announcing the investment in Plant Prefab focuses on the idea of smart home technologies, although it didn't delve into any specific examples.
Plant Prefab is known not just for this potential foray into smart home technologies, but even more so for its desire to create sustainable prefabricated homes, and to do it quickly. The company says its process of manufacturing custom home sections in a factory instead of completely at the building site reduces costs by 10-25% in major cities and reduces construction time by 50%. Quick, sustainable construction that doesn't skimp on quality could be one solution to ease cities' housing crises.
"In the housing-crunched major cities like Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, along with areas like Silicon Valley, it takes too much time to build a home from groundbreaking to occupancy, and labor shortages, construction delays and increased construction costs are exacerbating this trend even further — and making homes increasingly less affordable," Plant Prefab founder and CEO Steve Glenn said in a statement.