#006 – Things Thursday – Air Quality, IoT risks, & more

Indoor air quality matters. Picture of a plant on a table in a home.

Indoor air quality is a very important metric you can help homeowners understand through smart home devices. These sensors make great closing gifts and can help you stay connected beyond the transaction.

Things Thursday is returning this week with a good amount for you to chew on. We are looking at smart home and internet of things (commonly called IoT) and its impact on your business. We bring news from around the web to you that gives a glimpse into the future. Rather than talk about the shiny baubles that are on the market, we aim to uncover the devices and methods that make the smart home valuable. Today, we look at air quality, new programs for inventors to make devices, and a database of smart home devices on the market.

  1. SmartHomeDB (via SmartHomeDB)
    So, the first listing isn’t an article, but something for you to use. It’s a site called SmartHomeDB. With nearly 1,000 smart home products listed, it’s the largest community-supported smart home database. We’re talking to them about working together on future projects and I think you’d do well to keep an eye on what they’re up to. It’s pretty comprehensive and products from many different manufacturers are listed. Get reviews from peers on here as well as what systems each device works with. This goes deep, so you could easily kill a few hours on this site. I’d recommend to brokers to get some familiarity and use it to drive agent trainings. We have ideas around this and you can reach out to us to discuss how this could happen.
  2. The democratization of innovation for the Internet of Things (via IEEE Spectrum)
    Indiegogo is one of several crowdfunding sites, like Kickstarter. They’ve teamed up with Arrow Electronics to help inventors make smart home devices. In the article, it’s noted that IoT is still emerging and a bit of a waiting game is happening. Because of this, Indiegogo and Arrow are looking to spur innovation in the space. From the piece:

    The partnership involves Arrow combining its design and production platform with Indiegogo’s crowdfunding engine. This combination will make it possible for qualified Indiegogo entrepreneurs to gain direct access to Arrow’s design tools, engineering experts, prototype services, manufacturing support and even supply chain management—a package of benefits that Arrow has valued at $500,000.

    This is a pretty cool idea, and there’s at least one area I can see that needs more work in order to make smart home devices valuable.

  3. Internet of Things (IoT): The risks and wrong approaches (via GroovyPost)
    This article does a great job highlighting the challenges we’ve talked about on this blog and in podcasts and presentations. From security and privacy issues, to device support and end of life of products that you depend on in the home. This is a great counterpoint to the Indiegogo/Arrow article above. This market is emerging and there are going to be challenges. The reason we entered the space is exactly for these reasons. We need to educate you, the members, on these products and also protect your interests. Consumer safety is a huge concern for these devices right now. I get that, and that’s why we are working with Underwriters Laboratories and the Online Trust Alliance to name a few. If you, as a REALTOR®, are going to recommend a product, you need to be certain it’s a quality, safe product.
  4. Which indoor air quality monitors are best and why (via Energy Smart Blog)
    Folks, read this article, please! It is pretty dense and dives VERY deeply into air quality and why it matters. It’s something I was going to write but Energy Smart Home Performance beat me to it. They do a really great job covering the issues around air quality and what it means for your health. They also delve into some environmental quality sensors on the market and what they mean to you. This pairs nicely with the article from The Real Daily a couple months back on indoor air quality. Why it should matter to you is that air quality indoors can be 5-8 times worse than outdoor air quality and we spend about 90% of our time indoors. Think about these sensors as a nice closing gift to a new homebuyer. Look for more from us on this.
  5. Decentralizing IoT networks through blockchain (via TechCrunch)
    Warning: high nerd quotient.
    Okay, you know that know it all in the office who is up on all the new technologies? I want you to read this article, then go and tell them all about it. They’ll most likely spill their coffee. But I digress. Here’s the point of this article in a nutshell. We have smart devices that we can control from our phones and do some cool stuff with them. Cool. But the issue is that the internet of things (or IoT, as you know), is a growing and unwieldy mass of devices that can’t be controlled by paradigms of the past. Our central hub and spoke model doesn’t work because of the sheer scale and need for connection of these devices. So, enter blockchain, which in lay terms allows for the chokepoints of the hub and spoke to be removed. There’s no central point of connection. It’s decentralized and allows for quicker access. This technology is emerging and you may have heard the term blockchain bandied about in real estate, which we are checking out. This could be a piece in the future of transactions for real estate. It is a good nerdy and satisfying read. Check it out.

That’s it for this overstuffed edition of Things Thursday. Have questions? Want us to cover something? Let us know. You can follow us on Twitter @crtlabs or Facebook.

#005 – Things Thursday – New ways to control your smart home, I talk to my desk & more

Memodo...do you modo?

Memodo…do you modo?

Well, it’s a great time to be alive. I can draw on a gadget and have my lights go off. Or, I can toss a rock in a bowl and make my shades go down. OR! I can tell my desk to order spanakopita. But, how secure is all this? It’s a wondrous world. Read on and find out.

  1. A universal interface that you control by doodling (via FastCo Design)

    Drawit, a drawable user interface from Marc Exposito on Vimeo.
    Pretty cool looking stuff. I think this would get to be a little challenging after a while, but it fits in our mantra of zero ui. Devices responding to your touch on a screen. This reminds me of an MIT project, called Open Hybrid, that turned everyday objects into smart objects with a specific sticker attached to it. There was also a project that let you throw things in a bowl to have specific actions take place, called Memodo on FastCoDesign. The cool things about Memodo is you can assign different functions for your home to tokens, like, say, your keys. When you toss your keys in the bowl after arriving home, your smart lock on your door could lock. I like it.
  2. How voice interfaces are colonizing our lives, by the numbers (also via FastCoDesign)
    Great presentation by Mary Meeker at the Code Conference yesterday. Voice is definitely going to be huge. According to the article, Amazon has sold nearly 4 million Amazon Echos. We have phones with voice search and cars with voice. Heck, even desks (see #4). It makes sense as an interface as long as it hears you. My favorite fact is about the types of searches they predict will happen by 2020. Good read.

  3. Who owns the data from a smart home? Homeowner, device owner, or a third party? (via The Real Daily)
    Speaking of good reads (and not because we’re mentioned), The Real Daily has a good piece on smart homes and data ownership. This is a great question that we’re grappling with here. They discuss questions of privacy and security that are tough in a space with no standardization and products made by manufacturers who want to be first to market. Check it out!
  4. I have a desk I talk to. It’s name is Isabella. (via Me)
    It’s actually called the Autonomous Smart Desk with AI. We have some things to hash out with it, but I do like the price point for the basic desk, which has programmable settings and is very sturdy. It’s only $299! The AI desk can control different smart products and order you food, an Uber or play Spotify. I would wait a bit on the SmartDesk with AI, because, as I said, we have a few questions about it yet and are working to discuss with Autonomous. You can check out how the desk works here: