Amazon has announced an investment in Plant Prefab, a start-up that builds prefabricated single, and multifamily homes, Architectural Digest reports.
The investment comes from the company’s Alexa Fund, which provides millions in venture capital funding to promote “innovation in voice technology,” according to the magazine. Amazon’s interest in Plant Prefab has raised speculation that the company may be on the cusp of expanding its smart home sector — i.e., creating spaces that could be synched with its smart doorbell and voice control inventions.
“Voice has emerged as a delightful technology in the home, and there are now more than 20,000 Alexa-compatible smart home devices from 3,500 different brands,” Paul Bernard, director of the Alexa Fund, said in a statement on Tuesday, Architectural Digest reports. “We’re thrilled to support [Plant Prefab] as they make sustainable, connected homes more accessible to customers and developers.”
Plant Prefab’s latest $6.7 million Series A funding round also included investments from Obvious Ventures and other private investors, Curbed reports. The company claims that its approach reduces construction time by 50 percent and cost by 10-25 percent in major cities.
As Next City has covered, prefabricated units do stand to save cities time and money — but their unique installation needs can also pose a number of challenges. For example, in the case of one recent, New York-based project, the modules were ready to be “stacked” about four months before the site was ready to hold them. That left one entity with 84 modules ready to go, but nowhere to put them.
Regardless, movable micro design may very well be the way of the future. What it will mean for privacy to have one company’s smart tech “built” into actual walls remains to be seen.
Rachel Dovey is an award-winning freelance writer and former USC Annenberg fellow living at the northern tip of California’s Bay Area. She writes about infrastructure, water and climate change and has been published by Bust, Wired, Paste, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and the North Bay Bohemian.