Screenshot taken from Apple WWDC event by Chad Curry.
Note: For an overview of augmented reality/mixed reality and virtual reality, read our post here.
On Monday, Apple kicked off it’s annual WWDC and it was full of less flash and shiny objects than in the past. What it did have were some very interesting announcements around their software, especially their augmented reality software, called ARKit.
Real estate stands to be greatly impacted by augmented reality.
Imagine the following scenarios:
Bring virtual representations of your furniture with you to a showing of a home and stage each room to see how this new place could look with your furniture.
Listing details for the home could show up as you walk through a property. Information about how new the flooring or tile is shows up when you point your camera at it.
From your phone, you could see the distance and direction to work, school, parks or other locations as you stand in a property.
Measure all aspects of the space with your phone and have actionable measurements before you move in.
With ARKit2 we are closer than ever to making that a possibility.
ARKit is the development framework for building augmented/mixed reality apps. It makes it easier to just build and get results. There were four changes that are key to AR becoming more prevalent in real estate applications:
New File Format
Shared AR Experience
New File Format
This one is most exciting to me. The new file format called USDZ (Universal Scene Description) was developed by Pixar and allows for you to build assets and use them in various apps. You can send and share these assets and they can be used with anyone using an iDevice. Now, if you’re using Android, you might feel like I’m forgetting about you. I’m not. I anticipate this coming to the Android platform shortly. The reason I’m optimistic is because tools like Adobe’s Creative Cloud Suite are supporting this format.
This new file format means you can share AR objects with other apps and users. So, in the future, I could take a pic of my couch and render it as an AR object, and send it along to my wife who wants to see how it looks in a house we are looking at. We could even try out new furntiure.
ARKit2 can detect and allow you to virtually interact with real objects. Lego gave a demo with one of their Lego sets and how it can be detected to create an augmented reality experience:
What’s cool about this is that a specific object could be used to initiate a program or app. For example, I bring a vase from my house that I’ve set as an object to use for this app, set it in the middle of a room in the house, point my camera at it and all my living room furniture appears on my screen placed throughout the room.
Shared AR Experience
This is what makes ARKit2 a big possibility in real estate. Shared experiences let you interact with other users in a virtual/augmented plane. In the video above, the two guys from Lego are interacting in a game. But in real estate. what if you and your partner could interact in a house with our furniture as a team and move things around in the room and make sure it looks how we want it? Having shared experiences means that doing a virtual, real-time staging using your own furniture helps you as a buyer and the REALTOR understand how this house could work.
The Measure app is deceptively simple. It allows you to take measurements of objects easily. The trick it plays is that it can measure 3D objects rather simply. In the demo below, you’ll see Craig Federighi from Apple point his camera at a few things and dimensions just appear. Imagine what this means for trying to figure out how to shop for your home:
Having this functionality built right into the phone serves the purpose of giving you a practical tool on your phone. But I believe it’s being built for the future. As it’s learning to create these dimensions and do so accurately, it will make it easier to capture 3D renderings of real world objects and import them into the phone.
There are already some pretty cool apps out there that do some of these things, but the fact that Apple has now integrated all of these features under one system makes it extremely powerful. How else can you see this being useful in real estate? Next we will look at ARCore from Google to give you a sense of what’s to come on the Android side.
With the pace that technology is currently advancing, it is amazing to see how it becomes increasingly woven into our daily lives. The Consumer Electronics Show, now in its 51st year, is the proving grounds for these new advancements. With over 170,000 attendees and 3900 vendors, CES is the world’s largest tradeshow. Over the pastthreeyears, CRT Lab’s has covered the trends that emerge, and what they mean for real estate. This year, we saw the following five key trends.
1) Increased Focus on Air Quality
There is a special marketplace on the show floor within CES that is specifically made for startups and technology pioneers called Eureka Park. This section is sponsored by the National Science Foundation and Techstars, and is a great place to get insights on where technology trends may be headed.
As we began to notice two years ago at the Lab’s first visit to CES, air quality is getting more and more attention of more importance to today’s consumers. In previous years we have met innovative startups like Plume Labs and elichens. This year, having built our own indoor air quality monitor, we were able to meet with and collect samples of the latest innovations directly from the sensor manufacturers.
2) Google Has Arrived
This year Google made its first-ever appearance at CES. They had an especially rocky start with their giant two-story outdoor booth having to be shut down due to heavy rains on day one, and faced power issues midweek.
Despite all this, by perhaps what may be brute-force alone, their presence was felt. Previous years at CES have been absolutely dominated by Amazon’s Voice Assistant Alexa, and for the search giant’s first year ever to be exhibiting – they had incredible product penetration.
Photo by Dieter Bohn / The Verge
From sponsoring the city-wide monorail, buses, taxis, and their incredibly impressive two-story outdoor booth, it seemed like Google was everywhere.
A Google Assistant shows off the company’s all white jumpsuits (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)
In fact, they even had real life Google Assistants working overtime on the exhibition floor giving product demonstrations, running contests, and doing giveaways of Google Assitant compatible devices.
3) Urban Agriculture
If you’ve visited CRT Labs over the past two years, you’ve most likely seen some of our aquaponics systems. Filled with fish, ghost shrimp, herbs and vegetables, these systems work based on a symbiotic relationship between the aquatic life and the plants growing above. As more and more people are moving to major urban areas, the demand for locally grown produce is only growing higher.
The Grove aquaponics set-up for CRT Labs, with kale above and goldfish in the tank.
This year at CES, there were dozens of companies trying to capture some of that demand by offering consumers a way to grow their own vegetables at home. What is reassuring to us that this will be a future trend to watch is just the sheer number of different approaches companies are taking to solve this problem. We saw sleek, counter-top units like the Aspara Smart Veggie Grower, to full popup greenhouses like the Grow Pods by Opcom.
4) Smart City and Autonomous Vehicles
We saw an incredible amount of technology this year that was trying to marry all of the innovation together to provide solutions for smart cities. Two of the best examples of this would be the Bosch Climo System and Toyota’s e-pallet, both of which won Innovation Awards this year. The Climo System is a smart air monitoring solution designed and developed to evaluate, visualize and act upon the outdoor air quality enabled with real-time tracking of ambient air pollutants. According to their website, the Climo System has eight different sensors that measure particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide. It is also equipped to monitor pollen levels, which is a common cause of allergies. We can’t help but be reminded of the Chicago based project, the Array of Things, which has similar goals.
Toyota announced a new business alliance between partners Amazon, Mazda, Pizza Hut, Uber, and Didi (Chinese Ride Sharing) focusing on what they are calling “Mobility as a Service”. As part of this, they also revealed the first of their concept vehicles, the e-Pallet.
Photo by Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow
The idea being that the e-Pallet would be a completely modular and customizable solution for autonomous transportation needs. From ridesharing and automated delivers, to on-demand retail experiences, the e-Pallet is made to be the starting point for any company who has a use case for electric autonomous vehicles.
5) Voice Control Integration Becomes Deeper
This year at CES we saw the deeper integration of voice assistants into the smart home. The best example of this would be Kohler, who unveiled Kohler Konnect this year. Enabling voice control technology for your shower, bathtub, toilet, mirror, and faucet. While this main seem a bit overkill at first, there are many uses cases for touchless/handsfree operation in the bathroom. In fact, Kohler received a CES 2018 Innovation award for the efforts, in their company’s impressive debut.
For more coverage, check out this great video from REALTOR Magazine:
NAR/CRT Labs is proud to sponsor our first Hyperledger Hackathon at mHub here in Chicago in September. Hyperledger Hackathons are events where software developers get together and share ideas about a topic – in this case, blockchain – in order to strengthen the community around the topic and move forward with projects that will innovate within the space. NAR’s recent investigations into blockchain have lead us to partner with multiple groups, and together we hope to innovate within the blockchain and Hyperledger communities. If you’re interested in finding out more about these technologies, and are in the Chicago area, this event is for you! Hackathons are for all levels of skill and participation, so you don’t need to be a whiz programmer to be involved. We hope to see you on September 21st for this event!
What is Hyperledger Hackfest? Hyperledger Hackfests are regular gatherings for developers working on the different projects hosted at Hyperledger.
What are the goals of Hyperledger Hackfest? The primary goal for a Hackfest is to facilitate software development collaboration and knowledge sharing between participants, with an eye towards reflecting all ideas and conclusions back outward to the public open source community afterwards. A secondary goal is to bring new contributors and passive observers up the learning curve on the different technology platforms, and the cross-cutting issues affecting multiple projects (such as identity, security, development process, etc).
Who is eligible to participate? Hackfests are public meetings, anyone is welcome to attend and participate no matter what their skill level, though the discussions will presume a significant familiarity with blockchain technologies and software development concepts on the Hyperledger protocol.
When? September 21 and 22, 9a-5p
Where? mHub: Chicago’s innovation center for physical product development and manufacturing 965 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60642
The goal of the event was to meet pioneers in the field, gain business advantages by learning more about the technology and ultimately learning to separate real opportunities from the hype. This event was incredibly useful as it helped clarify which changes blockchain technology will be making immediately and what’s still far off in the future. A reoccurring theme of the day was how blockchains can help provide and guarantee security, identity, and ownership while still operating at the speed of the internet.
Recently, MIT has published videos from the event and I would like to share three of my favorites as well provide my key takeaways from each talk.
Blockchain: Unlocking the Power and Potential
Brian Behlendorf is executive director of the Hyperledger Project. Behlendorf was a primary developer of the Apache Web server, the most popular Web server software on the Internet, and a founding member of the Apache Software Foundation. He has also served on the board of the Mozilla Foundation since 2003 and the Electronic Frontier Foundation since 2013.
From the video:
Brian shares the exact moment of when he realized the potential for blockchain technology. His “Ah-Ha” moment came after hearing of a land title project in Honduras that was being started to protect land ownership through decentralization of records.
In recent history, the digitization of systems has led to the centralization of systems. Brian explains how permissioned ledgers can begin to re-decentralizing how these systems work.
Brian then goes on to describe the opportunity and benefits that will come from the transformation of the traditional hub and spoke models to ledgers, and specifically how the roles of intermediaries in those models will shift over time.
What Could Go Wrong? When Blockchains Fail.
Emin Gün Sirer, Cornell University
Emin Gün Sirer is an associate professor of computer science at Cornell University. His research interests span distributed systems, security, and operating systems, with a particular emphasis on digital currencies and self-organizing systems. He runs the popular blog Hacking, Distributed.
From the video:
Emin Gün talks about what can happen when people and companies apply blockchains in a manner that is at odds with the science that is behind them. Setting the stage for his talk, Emin covers the history of how civilizations track wealth as well as how validity, immutability and apply to blockchains.
In recent years there have been a number major failures based on poor implementations. Emin goes into detail about the attack on the Ethereum based smart contract, The DAO, and how it was exploited for over $50 million dollars.
Emin warns audience members who are interested in running private permissioned technologies. These systems are built relying heavily on the fact that the network will be resilient to attack as long as the nodes fail independently.The problem here that many implementations that we are seeing today have every node on the network running the same code, making them al susceptible to the same vulnerabilities. Emin suggests the concept of N Version programming as a possible solution.
Transformation at Scale: Building Tomorrow’s Financial Markets Today
Amber Baldet, J.P. Morgan
Amber Baldet is the Executive Director, Blockchain Program Lead at J.P. Morgan. Established in 2015, J.P. Morgan’s Blockchain Center of Excellence sets a comprehensive blockchain strategy for the Corporate and Investment Bank, while also developing cutting edge technology, curating Strategic Investments, and performing client outreach.
From the video:
Amber explains what the future of JP Morgan’s client services could look like and what that means for their product offerings.
She goes on to explain how even though her company is focused on investment banking applications, they must be built with the same ethical design standards as blockchains inorder to avoid very imbalanced systems.
Amber finishes her presentation with a quick overview of JP Morgans first open source software product, Quorum, that allows for private and secure transactions on a public ethereum blockchain.
If you are interested in learning more, click here to view all the videos from the Business of Blockchain Event. I’ve also included links to all of NAR’s research below.
This year, we’re excited to have four members of the team heading down the the Midyear Meetings in Washington, DC, to show off some of the projects we’re deeply invested in and to talk one-on-one with members about smart home, smart community, and smart city initiatives. These meetings are a great way for REALTORS® to check out the legislative arm of the National Association of REALTORS®, network about important issues facing REALTORS®, and to check out some of the things various groups at NAR – including CRT Labs – are working on. We’re focusing on three major projects currently with education, advocacy, and innovation in mind.
A view from the Midyear Meetings
We’ve talked about all three of these projects before, but we’ll be on hand to update members on the progress of our Indoor Air Quality Sensors/Home Automation suite, our Smart Home Simplified series, and our first Pocket Guide to Cleaner Air. We have materials about each project for you to take home, as well as a variety of CRT Labs swag including stickers and buttons! To find out more and talk to the team, stop by the NAR Booth, #1707, on Wednesday 5/17 from 10am-3pm or Thursday 5/18 from 1pm-6pm. We’ll also be attending a variety of meetings, including presenting at Data Strategies, eBITS, and more. For a full schedule, check out our Office Hours, where Chad breaks down all the great forums available for members to attend.
We hope to see you at one of the many events scheduled this week in DC!
A flight home from CES 2017, credit reddit user fantomknight1
Very much like last year, the halls of CES 2017 were packed to the brim with smart home technology. Now although there were a few new products, the majority of vendors mainly showed off upgraded versions of their lights, lock, security cameras, switches and other smart home hardware. It seems the major smart home announcements at CES 2017 were about new integrations between existing products. This trend is a big win for the industry and consumers who are currently dealing with a fragmented user experience.
For the second year in a row, Amazon’s personal voice assistant has dominated the floors of CES. Without being present in any formal capacity, the personal assistant seemed to be absolutely everywhere. Most impressively, Alexa has broken free from just being a smart home product and is now showing up in nearly all industries at CES. Vendors are building their products with Alexa built in, negating the need for consumers to even own an Amazon Echo. For example, both Ford and Volkswagon announced that the virtual assistant will be coming to their connected cars to allow search, shopping, and smart home control while driving. Chinese mobile phone manufacturer Huawei is launching an android phone that will prominently feature Alexa. Lenovo has created two versions of their own personal assistant that has Alexa built-in . The standard – starting at $129.99, and the Harmon Kardon Edition, which offers better sound quality, starting at $179.99. (very comparable to the price of an actual amazon echo).
The number of applications (or skills) available in Amazon Alexa store is increasing at an incredible rate. With only 1,000 available last June, the store now hosts over 7,000 skills that allow you do to basic things like set timers and alarms, to ordering Uber’s or Lyft’s and checking wait times at airports.
While Apple Homekit seems to currently to be losing the integrations “arms race”, CES 2017 was still full of vendors announcing their HomeKit Enabled Devices. Integrations with Apple take longer for third party vendors as there is a strict set of hardware and software requirements Apple imposes before it will certify a product as HomeKit compatible.
Yale Real Living Assure Locks
Yale NexTouch Wireless Locks
Kwickset Premis smart lock
iDevices Instant Switch
Lifx Plus Smart Bulbs
Ring Floodlight Cam
Withings Home Plus
Fibaro Motion Sensor
Fibary Door/Window Sensor
Netatmo Smoke Alarm
Chamberline Smart Garage Opener
Fibaro Flood sensor
Lutron, one of the more established Smart Home Vendors in the industry has announced new integrations with Samsung SmartThings and additional features with Nest.
With SmartThings you will now be able to control your Lutron switches and shades alongside other compatible products from within the SmartThings mobile app. That’ll let you use things like Z-wave and ZigBee motion detectors to trigger your Lutron gear. This communication is not native to the Lutron Platform however and will require you to purchase an additional piece of hardware that works as a translating device. This hardware should be available early this year.
Lutron is has also added additional functionality to its Nest integrations. Previously, you were already able to trigger Lutron gear based on communications from the Google Company’s Learning Thermostat and Protect Smoke detector. Now they have also added Nest Cam support which is a great benefit to be able to control your indoor/outdoor lighting based on motion detected on your cameras.
Being the new comer to this space, Google’s personal assistant platform remained relatively quiet this year with only a few announcements. Besides integrating with the familiar Belkin Wemo line, Google also announced partnership with another new comer to the space, the Nvidia Shield/Spot, a media streaming device with built in AI and smart home integrations.
As they open up more of their API and hardware vendors have more time to integrate, I imagine Google Home will be the one to watch at CES 2018.
All of these integrations show a maturing smart home industry, a welcome improvement over the fragmented marketplace that existed just a year ago. The fact that consumers will no longer necessarily be silo’d into smart home walled gardens should allow greater adoption of these devices. To learn more about CRT’s CES trip, please follow us on Facebook as we discuss our findings live on Friday afternoon. Please make sure to check back here as well next week for part two of this series, where I share the products that I am most excited about for 2017.