Amazon has launched Alexa for Residential, a service for property managers to let them arrange Alexa-powered Echo devices throughout their buildings, thus converting them into move-in ready smart buildings/ apartments for tenants. Amazon has tied up with IOTAS, STRATIS IoT and Sentient Property Services to use Alexa for Residential. The companies plan to open such smart apartments in the US later this year.
The tenants of such buildings need not have an Amazon account to use Alexa on the devices already inside the properties. The Amazon voice assistant will let them “control their apartment’s smart home features, set timers and alarms, get the weather, news and more from the Echo device in their unit—all using just their voice.” If they do have an Amazon account, they can access all the Alexa features like call their friends and family and listen to music.
As per the Amazon blog post, “Alexa for Residential also allows property managers to offer custom voice experiences that go beyond the walls of their apartments. They can create custom Alexa skills for every unit in a property, allowing residents to manage rent, maintenance requests, amenity reservations, and more. Property managers can also use Alexa-enabled devices in vacant units to answer common questions, enable self-guided tours, or demo smart home features available in each unit.”
Using a random Alexa device in a new place makes the privacy question float up in a really big way, especially after rumours of Alexa-powered devices secretly listening to their users conversations have surfaced in the past. Amazon, however, adds that “property managers do not have access to any customer data, and voice recordings are automatically deleted daily. If a customer links their personal Amazon account, they will have full control of their privacy settings as if the device was their own, and their preferred privacy settings will be automatically applied. Residents can unlink their account at any time, and at move out, in-unit devices can be reset along with the rest of the smart home devices.”