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Residential High-Rise Developer to Include Amazon’s Alexa in Every New Unit

Australia's Caydon Strikes Deal With Amazon, Eyes Implementation at New U.S. Projects in Seattle, Houston
June 11, 2018
Pictured: Caydon's 27-story The Midtown project slated to deliver in Houston next year.

Australian real estate developer Caydon Property Group has signed a deal with Amazon to include the e-commerce giant's Alexa virtual assistant in all of its condominium units.

Caydon will provide the top-of-the-range Amazon Echo Plus in each of the 1,205 apartments in the Hall St and Margaret St buildings in the Mason Sq. precinct of Melbourne. Caydon is also in talks to bring the deal to its first American condominium development, the 29-story 8th and Cherry Street project slated to break ground in Seattle next year, and is in the planning stages of similar digitization integrations at its 27-story The Midtown multifamily project currently underway at 2850 Fannin St. in Houston.

"It's exciting for Caydon to partner with Amazon on this initiative because it complements what we are doing to make voice control a pivotal part of the digital living experience that buyers are demanding, and that we are incorporating into our existing and future developments," Caydon Principal Joe Russo told The Australian Financial Review.

Initially, Alexa will operate separately from Caydon's own residents' portal, but eventually the two platforms will be integrated. Once integrated, Caydon residents will also be able to use Alexa to control fixed features and furnishings such as lights and blinds and their smart TVs as the developer builds out its digital living capability.

"We are looking at leveraging Alexa’s voice capability to instruct and command home automation for fixed furnishings through Caydon’s portal. Our aim here is to bring the home automation experience into our portal to deliver a seamless consumer experience," Caydon Technology Director Damian Fasciani said.

For now, the deal is only for Caydon’s condo units, like those being developed in Seattle. Plans are also in the works to bring the Alexa integration to Caydon’s multifamily rental units, but have not been finalized.

"Over the next 12 months, we are looking at extending this offering within the U.S.," Caydon Principal Joe Russo told CoStar News.

Caydon is by no means the first developer to offer built-in virtual assistants, but its partnership with Amazon is one of the largest deals struck in condominium and multifamily development. On the single family side, Lennar, the nation’s largest homebuilder, announced earlier this month that standard features in its new homes will include built-in Wi-Fi, smart locks, doorbells, thermostats and lights - all controlled by Alexa.

Nearly one in five U.S. adults today have access to a smart speaker, according to new research out from Voicebot.ai., a site that provides research, news and analysis on voice technology. In Australia, household penetration of smart home devices is expected to exceed 37 percent within five years.

The deal may put off some potential residents worried about their privacy. Virtual assistants only record your voice when you activate them with "wake words." Those recordings are then transmitted back to Amazon and Google servers, where the questions are analyzed and answered. While they might work that way for now, some are worried that could change in the near future.

Last month, a woman in Portland, OR, told Seattle television station KIRO7 that her Amazon Echo device had recorded a conversation, then shared it with one of her husband’s employees in Seattle. Amazon said the device’s actions were an unlikely string of events based on what it was hearing, and the company is evaluating options to avoid similar cases.

Caydon is working on its own security.

"We have partnered with Okta, who is the world leader in identity and access management. This implementation has been critical in how we design and secure our home automation offering," Fasciani said.

According to Fasciani, Caydon has conducted stringent testing and regression processes to ensure digital offerings are secure. External penetration tests conducted by third parties were also conducted to further protect the consumer experience.

Caydon hopes to extend the collaboration to include other projects under development or in the pipeline, including Focus on Mason, Rise at Mason Sq and Ivanhoe Apartments in Melbourne, and The Malt District in Cremorne, an inner suburb of Melbourne.

Kyle Hagerty, Houston Reporter  CoStar Group   
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