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July 19, 2017Martha Kang
From energy-efficient homes to energy-plus homes, Brookfield Residential has been pushing the technological envelope with its home designs for years. And with its latest model, the Virginia-based builder is now enabling customers to fully control their smart homes by voice. In just weeks, Brookfield built a fully-functional, Alexa-powered model home in its newest subdivision.
Brookfield’s Marketing Manager Erin Smith says homebuyers know Brookfield’s model home is unique from the moment they walk through the door. Alexa welcomes visitors as they enter, then describes how they can interact with the home. The walls display discrete plaques inviting visitors to try an utterance. Alexa then performs the requested action or provides more information about a feature.
The utterances aren’t mere “Alexa, turn the lights on or off” commands, either, though a number of devices with Alexa respond to such individual commands. Smith says the Brookfield team focused on creating immersive experiences that engage the buyers' senses.
In the grand room, for example, “Alexa, turn on the smart home” powers on the big-screen TV and a slideshow of Brookfield homes and the surrounding community. At the same time, it toggles the lights, lowers the window shades, starts the ceiling fans, and ignites the fireplace.
Rooms throughout the house showcase different technologies in unique settings:
“Immersive scenes are a lot more impressive than just a single shade coming up or down or a light turning on and off,” Smith says.
Smith says it’s all about showing buyers that the possibilities are unlimited. Most people likely won’t need a disco ball in their bedroom, but many would want a voice-enabled kitchen, a bath that transforms into a spa, or an entire house that changes when you simply say, “goodbye” or “goodnight.”
Check out Brookfield's video to see the voice-controlled model home in action:
Gregg Hughes, Brookfield’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing, says Brookfield was looking for a way to differentiate itself from other home builders. The company felt certain that home automation, especially voice-enabled automation, will become increasingly commonplace in the future.
Hughes didn’t have the luxury of time to research the growing number of automation devices that work with Alexa. So he and Brookfield’s Senior IT Director Mark Gregas engaged Alexa-savvy agencies to help. Brookfield consulted with cyberManor for its extensive experience in home automation. The company selected Bethesda Systems, who built Amazon’s smart home display for CEDIA 2016, as the primary integrator. And the company hired Quinix to write Brookfield’s custom skills for Alexa.
“We brought to the table our understanding home building and what customers might like,” says Gregas. “But we relied heavily on our partners’ expertise to guide us in selecting the products, building our Alexa skill, and integrating it all together.”
Hughes says the initiative has engaged and enthused the whole Brookfield team. Even more impressive, though, are the results the builder has seen with prospective homebuyers.
Model home visitors are impressed by not only the technology but also the design of the floor plan that complements the technology. Hughes gives kudos to the Brookfield team for designing a home with technology in mind rather than as an afterthought. Together, he says, the design and the technology are driving real business impact.
“More than just branding us as an innovative builder in our market, Alexa is helping us sell more houses,” says Hughes. “It’s had an unbelievable ROI. Our traffic is up 100% year over year. Our sales are up about 53% in this particular community.”
Add voice control to your own smart home devices and delight your customers. With the Alexa Skills Kit, you can easily teach Alexa how to control your cloud-controlled lights, thermostats, smart cameras, and entertainment devices. Learn more about Alexa's built-in smart home capabilities and start building your own integration. If you publish a new skill in July, we’ll send you an Echo Dot so you can experiment and daydream.