Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Tech You Shouldn't Ignore
While virtual reality and autonomous driving are hot trends right now, pay attention to other small-scale advancements that could change the way you do business.
February 8, 2016
We’ve been seeing some big advancements in the technology field, from virtual reality to drones and autonomous driving. But there have been some equally impressive developments on a smaller scale that could have a big impact on the way you do business.
In case you missed it, REALTOR® Magazine in January was on the showroom floor at CES 2016, the world’s largest consumer electronics show. We brought you some of the most radical advancements in real estate–related tech. If you need a refresher, check out the video below:
Aside from this impressive tech, what other trends should you be aware of? Some items have flown under the radar, but they promise to make it easier for you to manage your business, make your showings smarter, and much more. Here’s a look at the tech that’s been overlooked but you should know about.
It’s not as sexy as robots and drones, but the new USB-C plug — which is slowly taking the place of the current standard USB Type-A plug in most new computers — can connect to all devices and handle charging, data transfer, and external displays. The USB-C plug also delivers more power to your device when it’s charging and drains it less when the device is in use. It’s expected to become the new standard for most devices in the future because it works better with the thinner and more lightweight models of portable devices that are evolving. As such, you’ll want to keep the new plug in mind when upgrading your business devices. USB-C may be the one-cord replacement for a flood of power adapters and USB cables and could one day be the only port you need to connect devices.
The Internet of Things
The giant ecosystem of connected products is getting larger every year. The Internet of Things is a buzzword describing how companies are making products with added components that connect them to the Internet. Manufacturers are now promoting partnerships with tech companies that expand their pool of connected devices. Samsung’s SmartThings platform, for example, can connect more than 200 household devices — everything from lights and locks to thermostats — to other big smart-home hubs like Lowe’s Iris, LG’s Smart ThinQ, Amazon’s Echo, and Panasonic’s Ora. The Internet of Things could dramatically change your listing appointments one day, as you show off everything a house can do from a smartphone.
Capturing a view of your listings from all angles is becoming more affordable, as several companies are releasing models of 360-degree cameras that cost well below $1,000. Kodak has been generating buzz for its Pixpro SP360 4K action cam, available for $500. It fits in the palm of your hand and offers the ability to easily capture 360-degree spherical views and 4K HD video.
Big Add-Ons to Small Homewares
Instead of going out and buying an entire fleet of smart-home devices, companies are finding ways to add elements to existing appliances to make them smarter. For example, the Sengled Pulse lightbulb can instantly stream music or regulate the lighting at your showings. All you have to do is screw it into a lamp and control it with its app. You can also add a Roost Wi-Fi 9V battery to a smoke or carbon monoxide detector and have alerts sent to your phone if the alarm goes off. You can also press the cancel button if a false alarm sounds and be alerted when the battery goes low.
Bringing in More Automation
In your business, you have to stay on top of a lot. Automation may be a key component to making your job easier and ensuring no prospect gets left behind. Services such as YouMail automatically answer your phone calls and even address the caller by name when taking a message. But automation is becoming a part of many other products, from autonomous driving to drones that can fly themselves (such as the Lily). “Automation is the next big thing, because it will harness the power of all the other things, making cars that drive safer, medical diagnostics that anticipate health needs, and robots that not only respond to our commands but anticipate them,” research firm Forrester Data said in a statement at CES 2016. “It will be harder to see the power of these life-changing solutions, but their long-term effect will be bigger than any single device or innovation.”
Apple’s Siri was one of the first voice-control services to hit the mainstream. Now more tech companies are offering products that can be controlled with voice commands, such as thermostats, door locks, and appliances. For example, customers can connect Amazon’s Echo to their Vivint smart-home system and ask its assistant, Alexa, to lock the doors, set the security system to “stay” or “away,” adjust the temperature, open or close the garage door, or adjust the lights. Voice services are getting better at recognizing your voice, dropping from an error rate of 23 percent in 2013 to just 5 percent in 2015. Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana could be interweaved into more gadgets in the coming year.