Tech Trends 2017: A New Webinar from CRT Labs for REALTORS®

Looking for an in-depth look at the Smart Home trends of 2017? Look no further than this new webinar!

Join our User Experience Designer, Joe Sullivan, as he talks about six product categories making waves this year. Joe has a lot of great information on current smart devices, including a look at what each product does, the benefits of incorporating them into your current lifestyle, and some questions buyers and sellers may have about homes with smart home fixtures. Joe also goes over some tips for REALTORS® when working with smart home tech during the listing process. The webinar covers three security and three lifestyle smart home product families – smart locks, smart security cameras, smart doorbells, smart lights, smart thermostats, and smart air quality monitors. If you’re interested in this webinar, head on over to the product page at the REALTOR® Store and check it out! And let us know what other topics you’d like to see covered in webinars – we’re always excited to help our members learn more about technology and its impact on real estate.


CRT Labs Speaks this Spring!

One of our favorite things to do at CRT Labs is get out of the lab and talk to people about the projects we’re working on. This spring, we’re showing up at a variety of events, and hope to see as many tech enthusiasts as we can in the coming months. If you’re at one of these conferences or other speaking events, please feel free to come up, say hi, and maybe even pick up some CRT Labs material!

From Unsplash:

14 – Dave is speaking at TechEdge in Pembroke, MA. He’ll be discussing CRT Labs, the Internet of Things, and its impact for REALTORS®.
14 – Chad is at the WCR Region 6 meeting in Hanover, MD, discussing the new projects that CRT Labs is working on.
17-20 – Adrienne and Donna will be at NAR’s AE Institute in Denver, CO. They’ll be handing out some new resources to help educate REALTORS® on smart home products, as well as talking about the work CRT Labs is doing in the smart home, community, and city areas.
23-24 – Chris is at the Erlang Factory conference in San Francisco, CA. He’ll be talking about his work on Rosetta Home, our open source home automation software project.
24 – Chad will be in Rosemont, IL speaking to COVE about the Internet of Things.
30 – Dave will be in Kansas City, KS, talking at the KCRAR ReCharge Event about Getting Smart about Smart Homes.

6 – Chris will be at the TechEdge in Billings, MT to discuss CRT Labs, the Internet of Things, and its impact for REALTORS®.
13 – Mark is speaking at the Naples Board of REALTORS® about technology initiatives at NAR.
19-21 – Dave will be at RAMCON here in Chicago to speak about blockchain and real estate.
20 – Chad will be speaking at Rock-Green REALTORS in Janesville, WI about smart home technology.
24-25 – Joe will be at the Ohio Association of REALTORS® Spring Meetings to talk about smart homes and the Internet of Things
24-26 – Chad and Dave will be at the RESO Spring Convention in Austin, TX, where Chad will be talking about virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence and Dave will be talking about practical applications of blockchain.
25 – Donna is in San Jose, CA, for TechEdge, speaking about the Internet of Things for REALTORS®.
26 – Adrienne will be speaking to the Chicago Association of REALTORS® YPN group about smart home trends for 2017.
28 – Mark will join the MetroTex Association of REALTORS® for their spring industry meeting to talk about the impact of smart home technology.

7 – Joe is heading to the TechEdge in Tulsa, OK, to speak about the Internet of Things
15-20 – The crew heads to the Midyear Meetings and Trade Expo, where we’ll be speaking and meeting with people to talk about what the labs are up to.

Join us at one of these many events, and if you’d like to request a speaker for your own group, please contact us and we’ll work together to arrange a speaking event. See you all this spring!

Smart Homes & REALTORS – What do you know?

Smart Home Survey Featured Image

We’re really excited to write today about our new survey, which highlights the emerging technology needs of our membership and our work. We’re kicking things off with our first survey for CRT Labs: the  Smart Homes &REALTORS® Survey. This is an insightful look into what our members and their clients know about smart home technology and where we can help you learn and grow your business in the smart home space.

Member Interest in Smart Home Tech

One of the most exciting things we see in the survey is the amount of interest members have in smart devices and how they can use them in their business. Based on our data, it is not just new and young agents who are interested in this technology, but more seasoned members of the REALTOR® population. A prime example of this is seen in this question about interest in an NAR Smart Home Certification.

A percentage based bar graph gauging interest of NAR members in an NAR smart home certification. 42% of those surveyed are interested, 22% are not interested and 36% don't know if they are interested.

What we note is that almost half of those surveyed were interested in a certification program. The characteristics of those interested in a certification are surprising to me in a good way. Looking at the median experience, hours of work, and age, we see that members working full-time and near the overall median member age of 54 are interested in this type of certification; this type of certification appears valuable to industry veterans.

When we move to the second tier of characteristics and break down interest by years of experience, we see that over half of those who say they are interested in a certification had more than 16 years of experience. We also see that members aged 55 and up are very interested in this type of certification.

Currently, NAR does not offer such a certification or designation – but, if you are interested in gaining some knowledge on smart home tech and energy efficiency (and I suggest you consider it because younger buyers are very interested in these features), NAR does have the GREEN designation, with a section on smart home technology and advantages to clients with respect to energy efficiency as part of this designation. Also, if you are interested in getting a better handle on the terms and concepts behind smart home technology, check out our smart home glossary and our internet of things FAQ.

Client Interest in Smart Home Tech

One of the big reasons for NAR members to understand this technology is because your clients will be interested in what these devices can offer them.

Client Interest by Type

These responses are insightful, and confirm that security and privacy are top priorities for clients. Concerns around these two topics have been evident for a while and have become hot topics since the Mirai attacks. Start with our Smart Home Checklist (502 downloads) to help clients with these concerns. What is surprising to me is that comfort remains in the middle of the pack as far as importance of functionality goes. That’s typically been a big selling point for these devices. If you look at the “Very Important” slice by itself, you get the top 5 in this order:

  • Security 51%
  • Privacy 45%
  • Cost Savings 44%
  • Energy Savings 42%
  • Comfort 38%

When you combine the “Very Important” numbers with the “Somewhat Important” column, the functions shift:

  • Security 81%
  • Energy Savings 78%
  • Cost Savings 77%
  • Privacy 75%
  • Comfort 71%

Energy Savings and Privacy swap places. I’m not declaring anything definitive here, just highlighting an unexpected shift. Privacy moves down the list and Energy Savings rise. It’s not a huge difference between that and Cost Savings, but could be an indicator of future importance for these areas. We’ll be keeping an eye on this.

For us, another interesting function-related finding was that Air Quality rated low. My personal opinion is that this will shift in the coming years as more devices and projects become available and consumers are more aware of the impact that air quality has on comfort and energy efficiency. This is a vertical we are going after with our Rosetta Home and PiAQ projects. Air quality will be key in the function of a smart home. We envision a home that reacts and self-regulates to keep you comfortable and safe. These metrics from air quality will inform decisions made by your house.

What You Can Do

So what can you take from this report and use in your business today? Well, a lot! First, the most surprising graph to me:


According to this, only 2% of you have given a smart home device as a closing gift. Most likely there are a few reasons for this:

  • Not understanding what’s on market
  • Cost
  • Concerns around privacy and security

Definitely start thinking about the potential of these devices, which are available at a variety of price points, as gifts. First, you can consult our gift guides here:

You can also look at our thermostat tear sheet for more options. Giving these devices as closing gifts are a way to keep the conversation going after closing. These devices last beyond a bottle of champagne and have the potential to offer improved living for homeowners. There is an opportunity for marketing yourself in a much different way.

In Closing

I wanted to close by saying that there is a lot for us here to work with to offer opportunities for you to help clients navigate the emerging smart home space. Smart home tech is here to stay for these reasons:

  1. Devices are becoming cheaper and more feature-rich.
  2. Security for these devices is becoming more important.
  3. Other verticals (utilities and insurance among them) are paying attention and penetrating the market with offerings.

Knowing what you’re interested in, combined with the ever-changing tech world, helps us at CRT Labs with our primary goals: to educate, innovate, and advocate for the future of technology and real estate.

CRT Labs at the REALTORS® Conference and Expo 2016

The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind as we shifted gears to get ready for the REALTORS® Conference and Expo in Orlando, FL. The whole gang is heading down to Florida to show off who we are and what we do, and we wanted to put our schedule up on the blog so you won’t miss a thing.


Speaking Events: We’ll kick off Friday with Chad speaking at the Property Management Forum from 10:30AM-12PM (all times Eastern) in the Orange County Convention Center West, Room W312 A. The forum will be discussing market segments and niches. On Saturday, Chad will speak to the Commercial Leadership Forum from 9-11AM in Orange County Convention Center West, Room W 206 A-C. Also on Saturday, Joe will be running the Emerging Business Technology Forum, where agents and brokers will talk about digital strategies. We’ll also be doing presentations in the Commercial Marketplace on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday; look for Chris from 11-11:30AM Saturday, Dave from 11:30AM-12PM Sunday, and Joe from 11-11:30AM Monday to talk about how the Internet of Things can work for commercial real estate.


Facebook LiveWe’ll be going live from the expo floor Friday at our usual time to host our office hours from our booth. To watch live, check out our Facebook Page at 2PM; if you give a like on the page, you’ll be notified when we go live (this week and every other week). We’ll be showing off our booth, which is part of the REALTOR® Pavilion.


Booth #208: Our booth at the expo is our place to shine. We’re bring a bunch of smart home devices to demo, like the latest thermostats, locks, and cameras. We’re also going to be showing off some of our in-house projects, including our Rosetta Home software, Indoor Environment Quality sensors, a prototype for an app based on our Smart Home Checklist, and more. On top of all that, we’ll be raffling off 5 Amazon Echo Dots – you won’t want to miss out on that! We’ll also have a ton of stickers and buttons to give away, so make sure to come by this weekend to check it all out.

Green Pavilion: We’re proud to host coffee artist Michael Breach to the Green Pavilion on Sunday from 1-5PM. He’ll be making amazing latte art and whipping up delicious pick-me-ups (while supplies last). I’m hoping he’ll make me a Hamilton-ccino, personally.

A ton is going on in Florida this weekend – we hope to see you all there!

Introducing the PiAQ

Recently, we’ve gotten a lot of buzz for a project we’re really excited about here in the labs – our PiAQ. It’s something we’re glad to see get attention, because we think it’s going to be a valuable tool to increase the quality of life for a lot of people.

open source air quality piaq

The PiAQ is an indoor air quality sensor built to fit on a $35 credit-card sized computer called a Raspberry Pi. Raspberry Pis are great for educational programs or for do-it-yourself projects like our sensor. The PiAQ uses that small computer to power air quality monitors, as well as run software (like our Rosetta Home, a home-monitoring software in development here in the lab) that can interpret and visualize what those monitors are tracking.

The Raspberry Pi provides a great platform for us to build upon, as it’s a trusted low-cost alternative to many of the commercial devices that exist in the Internet of Things space. Since the Pi is compatible with a variety of devices and can run many different types software, it’s the perfect candidate to start building up your smart home. There have been several Pi-based smart home DIY kits, including some with environmental sensors.

The goal for this project is to make information about the air people breathe more accessible. While the prevailing thought has been that outdoor air quality – especially in cities – is worse than indoor, did you know that the reverse can actually be true? In fact, the EPA estimates that indoor air quality can be two-to-five times worse than outdoors in some places, which is especially troubling considering we spent most of our time indoors.

As well as helping people monitor their own indoor air quality, we also built the PiAQ as a launching point for a larger project we’ve been working on: Rosetta Home 2.0. Rosetta Home is a whole-home automation system that will include indoor air quality sensing. By building on top of the Pi, we not only are able to use the Pi’s existing hardware and software, but we also bring the project forward into the Pi community at large. By opening the project up to this community, we get one of the largest groups of “beta-testers” possible; people who are passionate about technology and interested in helping us make the best sensor we can. To date, there have been over 10 million Raspberry Pi units sold.

At CRT Labs, we’re excited about what open-source hardware and software can do for emerging technologies. Currently, you can view our GitHub repository for the PiAQ (and our other projects) and download our hardware schematics and as well as our software. You can build your own PiAQ, or modify the software to your needs. It also allows you to help us debug the code, or find any flaws in our hardware. The more eyes we have on our projects, the quicker we can iterate them.


It’s great that we have this community open to us, not just to create this product, but to allow us to use what we learn from the PiAQ to expand our indoor air quality sensing even further. We’re working on developing stand-alone sensors that can be networked together in order to give you a sense of the indoor air quality of your whole home. That stat above, where the EPA says your home’s air can be up to five times worse than outdoors, can affect your daily life. For example, NAR’s CTO was curious about his home’s air quality when his wife complained of frequent headaches. He brought home an indoor air quality (IAQ) sensor, and found out his home’s CO2 was above recommended levels. To counter this, he started opening the windows at night and running his whole-house fan and quickly after, his family’s headaches disappeared.

Our IAQs will measure not only CO2, but temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, light and sound intensity, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), CO, and NO2. Temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, and light and sound intensity all contribute to your home’s comfort levels. When it’s too humid, you know to run a dehumidifier; if your baby can’t sleep, you can check the sound levels to see if maybe the party next door is louder than you thought. CO, CO2, and NO2 can actually cause short and long-term health effects. In the short-term, these pollutants can cause headaches, drowsiness, sinus issues, and light-headedness; in the long-term, they have serious consequences, especially when exposure lasts for hours at a time. If you know about what levels these gases occur within your home, you’re able to start mitigating them, like our CTO did when CO2 reached high levels in his house.

The PiAQ will be available to purchase starting in Q1 2017. We are looking for research partnerships; email us and tell us about your projects, and we can work together to see how the PiAQ can fit your needs.

The PiAQ is the exciting first step in beginning to create an ecosystem where the home’s health is monitored just like we monitor our own fitness. The FitBit got people talking about their own health – we now all know that 10,000 steps is a good goal to maintain our body’s fitness. Our goal is to get people talking about the home in the same way. We think about what we do in the lab in terms of our REALTOR® members’ code of ethics: “Under all is the land. Upon its wise utilization and widely allocated ownership depend the survival and growth of free institutions and of our civilization.” We are striving to change how people think about their homes, and by making the home’s health a priority, we can help to positively impact everyone’s lives.

CRTLabs On the Road for April 2016 – Las Vegas, Utah, San Antonio & more!!

From Unsplash:

From Unsplash:

Part of our work at CRT takes us on the road several times a month. We are going to try to keep a better record of events we’re speaking at and events we’re attending. For this month, there are several events happening all over the country. If your association is interested in having us at an event, please feel free to reach out to us at info at crtlabs dot org. Thanks!

  1. Friday, 04/08Las Vegas, NV – Speaking at Greater Las Vegas Association of REALTORS – General Membership Meeting – Chad will be speaking on what’s coming in the not too distant future and what you can do to prepare yourself. All GLVAR members are welcome to attend!!
  2. Tuesday, 04/12Park City, UT – Speaking at Rocky Mountain Region 11 2016 ConferenceREGISTRATION CLOSES 04/04. Chad will be presenting on what CRTLabs is and what we’re doing to educate membership on smart home devices. What do these devices mean for the future of your business?
  3. Tuesday, 04/12Atlanta, GA – Working at 2016 RAMCO User Group Meeting – Dave is going to be working with RAMCO and teaching a seminar on RAMCO APIs. Dave is also happy to field any questions about what we are doing at CRTLabs. 🙂
  4. Tuesday, 04/12San Antonio, TX – Speaking at NAR TechEdge – San Antonio, TX – Joe Sullivan will be presenting on IoT (Internet of Things) and how it relates to your business. Joe will talk about what the future of these devices will look like as well. Zero UI and user experience will be covered in this talk.
  5. Tuesday, 4/19-4/21 – Chicago, IL – Speaking at RESO Spring ConferenceData standards galore for our industry!!! Chad & Chris will present on what CRTLabs is up to for the real estate industry. If you’re working with data in the RE industry, definitely become a member of RESO and come on over to this event! You can even squeeze in a visit to our labs. 🙂
  6. Friday, 04/22 – Omaha, NE – Speaking at REBarCampOmaha – Chad will be one of the featured speakers, covering what you can do to educate yourself on smart home tech and how you can help CRT test devices.
  7. Tuesday, 04/26-Friday, 04/29 – Los Angeles, CA – Attending T3 SummitChad will be attending the T3 Summit to spread our work on the smart home and IoT front, as well as renewables.

That’s it for this month. Next month? Midyear looms large! Will we see you there?