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Secure or scary? Smart homes come to Burien

Burien Smart Homes.

BURIEN, Wash. — The world’s first Wi-Fi certified smart homes powered by Amazon Alexa are being built in a new housing development in Burien.

They’re quite a thing to behold. Even for non-techies who have watched one too many Sci-Fi movies.

At least a dozen homes built by Lennar are for sale on 45th Avenue in Bothell. The homes are internally wired with commercial-grade Wi-Fi, allowing everything from the doorbell to the TV to have internet access and smart capability.

“We have future-proofed these homes for technology,” says Erick Granquist, a Lennar new homes consultant. “We live in a digital world and it’s kind of silly that we come home to an analog house.”

The homes come with two Wi-Fi ports that are mapped to make sure there are no dead spots. In fact, technicians come in to make sure outages won’t happen.

“All of our floor plans have been heat mapped so you’re getting the maximum coverage for Wi-Fi,” Granquist said.

The home is controlled by Amazon Alexa, and things like TVs, lights and even the coffee maker can be activated vocally.

Last year, Lennar built 500 homes in the Seattle area. Moving forward, all new homes will be built with Wi-Fi certified smart home design.

But what about those afraid of homes that are too smart, a-la Disney’s Smart House? Or worse, what if someone hacks into the Wi-Fi controlled home? Some studies show that a majority of people are afraid a “smart home” would collect too much information about the owner. In fact, some blogs have surmised how a smart-home could kill its owner. 

Actually, smart home sellers get this question quite a bit, says a Lennar spokesperson.

“People ask us a lot because it’s such a new technology,” the spokesperson said.

He said new security is actually safer than old in most cases. Digital locks are encrypted with military-grade codes. The commercial grade Wi-Fi is among the safest in the business. Network hygiene is crucial for any homeowner to keep up, but it’s nothing new.

The spokesperson said digital locking technology, including car keys and other locks, has long been in play.

“We’ve been using digital locks for years,” the spokesperson said. “When was the last time you opened your car door with a key?”