Hyperledger Hackfest Chicago

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!

The Illinois Blockchain Initiative, Chicago Blockchain Center, National Association of Realtors and mHub are proud to partner with Linux Foundation and Hyperledger to host Hyperledger Hackfest on September 21 & 22nd in Chicago.

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

What is the cost?
This event is free of charge

How do I register?
Here

The Business of Blockchain: Videos and Key Takeaways

Business of Blockchain
This past April, I had the privilege of attending The Business of Blockchain event that was put on by the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, MA. The event was a one-day conference examining the technology, ethics, and impact of blockchains. If you are a reader of our blog, you know that CRT has been focusing on practical use cases for blockchain in real estate over the last year and half.

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

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.


NAR Resources

White Papers:

Projects:

Previous Posts:

External Resources

Blockchain Solutions:

Debuting at the Midyear Meetings!

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.

Midyear Meetings Registration

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!

CES 2017 Round Up – Part 1: Watching the Smart Home Evolve

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.

Alexa

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.

Apple’s Homekit

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.

Locks:

  • Yale Real Living Assure Locks
  • Yale NexTouch Wireless Locks
  • Kwickset Premis smart lock

Lights:

  • iDevices Instant Switch
  • Lifx Plus Smart Bulbs
  • Ring Floodlight Cam

Security:

  • Withings Home Plus
  • Fibaro Motion Sensor
  • Fibary Door/Window Sensor

Other

  • Netatmo Smoke Alarm
  • Chamberline Smart Garage Opener
  • Fibaro Flood sensor

Lutron

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.

Google Home

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

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.

nar16

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.

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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.

nar_orlando_pavilion_2016_208

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!

CRT Labs visits The Union League Boys & Girls Club

Two members of the Boys and Girls Club using a Kano Computer. To find out more about Kano, visit www.kano.com

Earlier this month, CRT Labs had the opportunity to visit the Miguel A. Barreto Boys & Girls Club in Chicago. For those of you who are not familiar with Boys & Girls clubs, they are an organization that offers youth a safe place to learn and grow. Programs offered focus on academic success, building character, and leading healthy lifestyles. The Barreto Club serves young people between the ages of 6 and 18, and the yearly membership is only $5. Fees are intentionally kept low so that all children in the community have an opportunity to join.

Since The National Association of REALTORS® announced their partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America, CRT has been looking for a way to share our expertise in a way that would connect with the young club members. Utilizing specialized Kano Kits, the goal was to teach the children how to build a computer, learn what’s inside it, and experiment with writing some code. The children worked with some of the same Raspberry Pi hardware that we use in the labs. The ninety minute session was an incredible success, and we’d like to give a special thank you to Linette Stephens and Jeremy Murphy who helped coordinate the event. Please check out the photos below.

View post on imgur.com

The Barreto location is one of eight clubs operated by the Union League Boys and Girls Clubs. Opened in 1970, Barreto was rebuilt in 2003 at its original site located at 1214 North Washtenaw Avenue in Chicago. Donations can be made and allocated directly to the Union League Club, or any other Boys & Girls Club, on the National BCGA website, where all donations from REALTORS®, REALTOR® Associations and Firms are being collected. To learn more about the NAR/BGCA partnership, and how to get involved with your local Boys & Girls Club, visit www.realtor.org/BGCA. There you will find a Club locator, a toolkit, and hear how other REALTORS® and REALTORS® Associations and Firms have gotten involved with BGCA.