(image credit: Project Milestone)

  1. The world’s first 3D-printed concrete homes have been constructed in the Netherlands. The houses are printed on-site, cutting down on costs and construction time. Since the concrete is easy to print into whatever shape is needed, the designs include some pretty wild forms. They will be ready to house occupants by 2019.
  2. Alexa and the Ethereum blockchain work together in this DIY smart home project. Not only does the home feature secure video monitoring and Alexa voice commands, but the homeowners created their own family cryptocurrency (through Ethereum) in order to incentivize chores – brushing your teeth, for instance, can be “cashed in” for screen time or real money.
  3. Speaking of Alexa – Amazon’s Alexa for Hospitality program has launched, with Marriott, Westin, and Aloft hotels installing Alexa devices into their rooms to help guests order room service, answer questions about hotel accommodations, and more. The chains promise that recorded information will be deleted after 24 hours, and that users will be logged out of the devices automatically at check-out.
  4. Alexa’s ubiquity also crosses into mesh routers, with TP-Link announcing a new mesh kit that includes the ZigBee protocol and integration with IFTTT and Alexa. We’ve been recommending smart hub systems to NAR’s members and consumers for years, and incorporating smart hub technology into wireless routers is a surefire way to get smart devices working together without a lot of additional effort or money.
  5. Engineers at MIT have designed a smart plug that works with machine learning to figure out what devices are sucking power out of your home, which can help you save money and lower your energy consumption. We’ve seen similar projects before that work with energy storage devices, so it’s exciting to see what can be done straight at the outlet.