Our First Hackathon; Virtual Reality Hits Real Estate; and More on Five for Wednesday!

Header image for the iOi Hackathon. Includes information about the dates (August 1st, teams can start. August 28th-29th, teams meet in San Francisco. August 30th, the winning team is announced).

      1. CRT Labs is hosting our first ever hackathon as part of the iOi Summit in San Francisco in late August. To find out more about this awesome event, including how you can register to be part of the hackathon, head on over to this blog post by Chad!
      2. One real estate company is going all-in incorporating Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality into their business model. Find out about how these technologies are shaping how to do business with clients on the Fast Company website (click ahead to the second video in the playlist).
      3. We’re still a long way off from the Star Trek replicators I so desperately need in my life, but this robotic assembly line for burgers in San Francisco might be the first step to get us there.
      4. The Wirecutter has recently updated its comparative look between the Amazon Echo and Google Home. Which voice assistant are you using in your home?
      5. And finally, as we hit into the hottest part of the year (at least in Chicago) – move over air conditioning, robotic cooling assistants are coming. I think I’ll stick with my central air.

3D Printed Homes, Alexa Branches Out, and More on Five For Wednesday

(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.

Three Apple WWDC 2018 Announcements You Should Know, and More on This Week’s Five for Wednesday

apple laptop

 

  1. Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) was this Monday, and included a slew of news related to their iOS and macOS platforms. One of the biggest announcements was improvements to their augmented reality platform, ARKit, which have the potential to transform AR from a novelty to a piece of technology we use every day. We think ARKit could mean big changes in real estate, too – so stay tuned to the blog for a post from Chad that lays out how the software will transform the industry.
  2. While there was no direct announcement about how Apple’s hardware and software will continue to evolve with smart home technology, CNET put together a great resource on how the company’s updates work within your smart home.
  3. We don’t want to crowd all of this 54W with Apple news, but the company also quietly added a huge win for privacy into iOS 12 – a restriction where third party hardware can’t be used to unlock your iPhone. This forces the use of a passcode when plugging the phone into a USB accessory after a short amount of time with it locked. The main need for this technology is to stop police from cracking into a phone, which we hope you’d never encounter, but it’s a good piece of mind if you find yourself without your phone full of personal information.
  4. Tesla has installed so much renewable energy storage that it’s actually making an impact on how much renewable energy costs for consumers around the world. The storage solutions, installed in multiple countries, have made renewable energy more reliable, lowered costs for energy in those countries, and made renewable energy storage more visible so that other companies can follow suit. We’re still a long way off from being a huge dent in how we consume energy, but its great to see these strides being made globally.
  5. New software uses your phone’s camera to help plot out maps. Incorporating real-time camera images into apps that rely on mapping software – like those steering self-driving cars – maps can be kept as accurately as possible, meaning those cars will have up-to-the-minute road information. Other uses include keeping tabs on overgrown trees that could affect power lines, tracking pedestrian traffic during events, and watching for flooding in the middle of a rainstorm.

How New Construction Is Changing – from Alexa to Solar Power – and More on Five for Wednesday

solar panels on a roof

 

  1. Homebuilder Lennar has teamed up with Amazon to show off homes powered by Alexa. The model homes will feature a variety of smart devices, like Ring doorbells and Sonos speakers. Lennar previously was in talks to install Apple’s HomeKit into their new builds, but chose Amazon due to the company’s new smart home consultation business, which includes on-site customer service for new smart home buyers.
  2. California becomes the first state to require newly-constructed homes to be powered completely by solar energy. The California Energy Commission says that the law will lower greenhouse emissions as much as taking 115,000 cars off the streets.
  3. Elon Musk’s Boring Co is said to be looking at lowering housing costs by creating bricks out of the muck left behind from the Hyperloop projects in California. There’s no real cost-saving benefits so far from using the industrial runoff, but it would be interesting to see Musk’s HQ made out of the material, which will be molded to look like Lego.
  4. Looking to find out how autonomous vehicles work? Waymo has produced an awesome 360° video on how their cars use lidar, radar, and computer vision to see the road.
  5. Heading to the NAR Legislative meetings and looking to find out how these technologies and more will impact real estate? Head to the Emerging Business Issues and Technology Forum on Thursday 5/17 from 1PM-3PM eastern time to get a crash course on real estate technology.

DIRTT – Doing It Right This Time

We investigate all sorts of real estate technologies here in CRT Labs, and recently we were able to stop by the Chicago offices of DIRTT Environmental Solutions. DIRTT, an acronym meaning “Doing It Right This Time,” is a company that is trying to revolutionize how we solve interior environmental solutions. DIRTT’s sophisticated technology turns 2D architectural drawings into 3D models as well as AR/VR landscapes, allowing clients to really visualize themselves in their newly designed spaces.

Before we check out DIRTT’s technology (presented in a Facebook Live Office Hours tour of their Chicago space), let’s talk a bit about AR, VR, and what they bring to the real estate field. First, we need to define the terms and talk about how they are the same – and how they are different. Augmented Reality (AR) is a live view (usually through a phone) of the world around you with overlays of digital information. This can take many forms, from the playful way Pokémon Go uses the phone camera to allow you to “catch” Pokémon in the real world, or in a more serious way through digital information displayed about a location while you’re there. Think of the second example as a digital visual version of the old school museum tour headsets you might rent while you’re at an art gallery. In real estate, AR can be used to not only enhance interior and exterior design choices in the building and remodeling process, but offers a fresh way to display listing information while at the home itself. There are dozens of applications for augmented real estate-specific apps (as showcased late last year in the New York Times), with more popping up every day. Augmented reality apps could become vital to the real estate market, especially as computer rendering techniques begin to get more sophisticated and start to look more like “real” furniture. Virtual reality (VR), unlike its augmented counterpart, creates (and/or recreates) entire environments with completely digital techniques. It often requires specialized hardware, which has grown and changed over the past two decades. Recently, a company called Oculus has become the frontrunner in the space, most notably due to their acquisition by Facebook. VR’s main output has been in the video gaming sphere, but just like augmented reality, the possibilities for real estate are currently endless, especially in the design/construction fields. Having a hard time envisioning a space after a remodel? Strap on an Oculus Rift and immerse yourself in the redesign.

VR and AR are very similar – and can even work together, as seen in our Facebook Live at DIRTT. Using augmented reality’s focus on overlapping information over real world images, and VR’s creation of entire environments, DIRTT is rethinking how we look at the built environment. To learn more about how AR/VR blend together at DIRTT, check out our Facebook Live Office Hours below.

CRT Labs Office Hours: DIRTT from CRTLabs on Vimeo.

To find out more about companies making waves in real estate technology, like our Facebook page and stay tuned for more Facebook Live Office Hours. Is there a tech company you’d be interested in learning more about? Contact us and let us know about them – and we might even feature them on a future Facebook Live!