Sam Silverstein is a former writer-producer for the National Association of REALTORS® based in Washington, D.C.
10 Gadgets We're Buzzing About
Check out some of the latest technology that could impact real estate in a big way.
February 18, 2015
Out of last month’s International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas came a slew of new products that stand to redefine the home and your business. More than 3,000 exhibitors rolled out their latest and greatest offerings and gave an inside look at what they’re planning for the future. Here are 10 particularly noteworthy products that were on display at CES.
LG TWIN Wash
You’re doing your laundry when you realize that those colorful shirts will need to go in another load. If you’re using LG’s new TWIN Wash system, there’s no need to wait until the first load is done. Just pull open the drawer beneath the main washing machine, and you can do both loads at once. The machine can be controlled via a smartphone app that lets you download wash cycles and can alert you to potential problems before they develop into serious issues. The app also can let you know when your clean clothes are ready to go in the matching, er, single dryer.
Haier Magnetocaloric Wine Cooler
Next-generation cooling technology under development by researchers at an international group of companies could revolutionize refrigerators. The compressorless technology, which promises to use a third less electricity than today’s compressor-based cooling systems, uses a magnetic field to remove heat from environmentally friendly coolant. Chinese appliance manufacturer Haier demonstrated the magnetocaloric system in a wine cooler on display at its CES booth. Haier is developing and implementing the technology in partnership with German chemical company BASF and Astronautics Corp. of America.
WeBoost Cell Phone Signal Booster
You know the feeling: You need to make a call, but your mobile phone just can’t find a good enough signal to establish a connection. Or that e-mail you want to download won’t pop up on the screen. WeBoost aims to solve that problem with a line of amplifiers that can take an unusable cellular signal and make it strong enough for your phone. The devices work in buildings or vehicles and can handle signals from any cell phone provider.
FLIR ONE Thermal Scanner
Just snap this thermal-imaging camera from FLIR Systems onto your Android or iOS smartphone, and you’ll see things that otherwise would be difficult or impossible to spot. The $250 device — which is aimed squarely at real estate professionals — uses an infrared sensor that detects differences in temperature to reveal hidden problems such as leaky pipes and drafty windows.
First Alert Onelink Smartwatch
Long known for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, First Alert wades into the crowded smartwatch market with a security-minded take on wrist-based wireless communications. The device, part of First Alert’s Onelink line of connected home-security devices, is distinguished by its ability to discreetly summon help when its owner swipes across the screen. Just decide in advance who you’d want to notify if you’re in trouble, and make sure they have the related app, which shows your location on a map along with a message.
Polaroid Socialmatic Camera
Relive the good old days of instant photography with this 21st century take on the iconic Polaroid Instamatic camera from decades past. The Polaroid Socialmatic camera introduced at CES may not offer the satisfying whoosh that used to accompany every Polaroid exposure, but now you can edit photos before hitting the print button — and there’s no need to wave photos back and forth to dry them. You don’t even have to print your pictures at all; just send them by e-mail or post them on Facebook right from the Android-equipped device.
Typo2 Keyboard for iPhone
The beloved physical keyboard that defined the once-mighty BlackBerry comes to the iPhone 5, 5S, and 6 — but not the 6 Plus — in the form of this svelte imitation from Ryan Seacrest’s Typo Innovations. The Typo2 offers the same tactile feedback BlackBerry made famous, although it makes your phone considerably larger because it sits underneath it. The Typo2 connects to the iPhone via Bluetooth and also serves as a case.
Delphi Connect Car Tracker
It’s tax time, and you need to know how far you drove your car for business last year. You could look over your notes or review your log — but next year, you could just check your Delphi Connect app. This mobile device from automotive component supplier Delphi uses GPS and cellular technology to record where each of your vehicles goes and how far it travels; it even monitors its battery and other systems. If you let someone else take your car, you can use the unit to track where the vehicle goes and get an alert if it travels outside a predefined area.
Canon Maxify Printers
If you’re tired of feeding ink cartridges to your printer, you’ll appreciate Canon’s new line of Maxify color all-in-one units, which offer heavy-duty features at lightweight prices. The Maxify MB5020, for example, costs less than $300 but holds 250 sheets of paper and can print 2,500 black-and-white pages or 1,000 color ones without needing a new ink cartridge. That’s several times the capacity of other printers in the same price range, Canon says.
Plustek eScan A150 Document Scanner
Taiwan’s Plustek wants to grab your attention with a new, low-cost scanner that lets you scan 50 sheets at a time, edit your scans on a 7-inch touch screen, and transmit them to multiple locations at once — all without a computer. The unit, which retails for under $1,000, looks and works like a fax machine. It has a 50-sheet feeder, can handle paper down to the size of a business card, and allows you to wirelessly send scanned documents via e-mail or a computer. The A150 can also transmit scans directly to a folder on a network or a cloud-based storage service.