Amazon’s program aims to put their product in rental properties, but they swear they’ll delete any conversations Alexa records.
Last Thursday, Amazon revealed its new Alexa for Residential program, an initiative that allows property managers to easily add Amazon’s voice assistant and Alexa-powered smart home devices into their rental properties for use by tenants.
Even before the property is occupied, Alexa will be capable of aiding in self-guided tours for would-be residents. Upon moving in, renters will be able to use Amazon’s smart speakers right from the get-go and can choose to link their Amazon account to access all of Alexa’s features, such as calling friends or streaming music through Spotify. If the tenant moves on from the property, the device will be reset, ready for use by the next tenant, all while keeping the connections to other smart-home features intact.
“The resident has to do zero setup,” said Liron Torres, Amazon Alexa’s head of smart properties. “From the moment they walk in, they can use Alexa and smart-home devices.”
The program seems to be part of Amazon’s greater strategy to see Alexa become a default appliance within all types of buildings, not unlike utilities such as the lights and plumbing. Amazon, having positioned Alexa alongside Google Home as the joint-premier smart-home device, is also planning to bring the device to hotel rooms, college dorms, and office settings, though the company hasn’t shed too much light on its plans for the latter.
Amazon has stated that privacy is an element of utmost importance in the new program, announcing that property managers and their smart-home partners will not be able to access any tenant data.
While smart-home devices are popular in the consumer market, adding them to rental properties could spark a few dilemmas. For example, last year a judge in New York ordered landlords of an apartment building to hand over physical keys to tenants who don’t want to use the Latch smart locks installed in the building.
Amazon has stated that privacy is an element of utmost importance in the new program, announcing that property managers and their smart-home partners will not be able to access any tenant data. Voice recordings (that the device uses to carry out demands) are automatically deleted daily and in any case, the recordings won’t be accessible to Alexa’s human reviewers. Renters who link their Amazon accounts will have full access to Alexa’s privacy controls and can unlink their accounts whenever they like.
Amazon has set up new partnerships with IOTAS, Stratis IoT, and Sentient Property Services to bring this plan to fruition. Amazon said it will be opening the program to more potential partners starting sometime this week. The program will kick off this season beginning in three apartment complexes in the USA: Parq on Speer in Denver; Reef at Winkler in Fort Myers, Florida; and The James in Annapolis, Maryland.