CRTLabs is Here. It’s Time to Meet the Makers


Over the past several months, we’ve been moving very fast at CRT. Our current body of work is focused on the Internet of Things and what it means for REALTORs and homeowners. Recently, I was interviewed by the Internet of Things Council talking about how we see our role in the Internet of Things space and how we see it playing out. You can watch it here:

Smart Homes & Quality of Life from (ITA) Illinois Technology Assoc. on Vimeo.

I’ll be posting a lot this week to give you a sense of where we’re going and what it means for us as an industry. One of the big announcements we have is the new CRTLabs. We started a lab so that we can work closely with universities, vendors, NGOs and government agencies to promote the value of our 1.1 million members. These different groups are seeing the value and they see NAR as a ‘path to communities’. Our members are in more properties than anyone else and are all over the world (including our global and commercial members). They know homes and what these devices could mean for improving quality of life in them. CRTLabs will work with these various groups to:

  • educate our membership
  • build hardware
  • test devices in the lab
  • poke holes in/harden/develop software
  • make feature recommendations
  • set up focus groups to improve/test products
  • provide field labs in various climates
  • review devices

In order to support these projects, we’ve hired two engineers for the lab who will drive the lion’s share of this work.

Christopher Coté is our Lead Lab Engineer and will work with me to drive the direction of the lab. We couldn’t be happier to have Chris on board and are already seeing some great things. Chris has experience outside our industry and most recently worked at and their spin-off company Chris is passionate about the Internet of Things. He’s built and installed a number of devices in his place here in Chicago and his second home in Michigan. His thoughts around energy efficiency and environmental quality of a home are already being well received by vendors and universities. We very much look forward to the work he’s going to do.

Dave Conroy comes to us from the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS. He was their Director of IT and has moved to Chicago to join us as a Lab Engineer. Dave’s experience with associations is key for us in educating our membership on the topic of the Internet of Things. He’s also a maker. Dave’s been featured on the Makezine site for his work with a Raspberry Pi and voice translation. We are very excited to have him working with Chris.

Our lab space is a place where members can visit and see what we’re working on. You don’t need to fly to Chicago to see our lab, however. We’re going to work with associations to provide a virtual tour through one of our initial purchases for the lab, a Double Robotics Telepresence robot. This devices is one of our first test devices and we think it has value for members holding viewings for potential buyers who are either international or remote. We’ll write more about that later. If you happen to be in Chicago, don’t hesitate to stop by the 4th floor and visit us just across from the elevators.

Our current projects are focused on improving environmental quality sensing and energy efficiency. As we start this RESO conference, we had a great time participating in the plugfest and educating the industry on the value of these IoT devices not only for our membership, but for homeowners in general. We’ve set up a new twitter handle for the labs at @crtlabs where you can follow us. As always, questions and comments are always welcome. Click the following links to get access to our GitHub account and today’s presentation.