Increase Your Privacy, Decrease Your Carbon Footprint, and More In Five for Wednesday

Welcome to Five for Wednesday, CRT Labs’ long-running (since March 2014!) series of curated tech stories.

 

a photograph of an LED lightbulbs with vintage aesthetics

 

      1. Last week we featured a Facebook-specific browser extension designed to protect your privacy; here’s a good list of some other privacy-minded extensions.
      2. Speaking of privacy, you probably know the European Union has some strict privacy rules (they’re far stricter than those in the States). It’s going to be interesting to watch if the gap widens, and if there are any ramifications for buying and selling real estate across international borders.
      3. Sadly, a lot of tech isn’t very environmentally friendly. One way to cut down on your carbon footprint: opt out of the every-two-year smart phone upgrade cycle.
      4. Some of the tech patents recently filed by Walmart are, well, pretty out there.
      5. If you’re looking for a full-home security system, CNET has some very nice things to say about this one.

What You Need to Know About Vintage LED Lightbulbs, Changes to Google Search, and More in Five for Wednesday

Welcome to Five for Wednesday, CRT Labs’ long-running (since March 2014!) series of curated tech stories.

 

a photograph of an LED lightbulbs with vintage aesthetics

 

      1. CNET has a nice roundup of modern (LED) lightbulbs that sport an older aesthetic (including some information on how they work in smart homes).
      2. If you’ve been dragging your feet making your web site mobile-friendly, Google is not-so-subtly reminding you to do so: they’ve begun indexing and ranking pages based on the mobile versions of web sites.
      3. If you’re worried about what you’ve heard recently about Facebook and their use of your data (but want to keep using Facebook), check out Firefox’s new browser extension. Here’s a nice summary of it, as well as information from Mozilla itself.
      4. Here’s another twist on the autonomous vehicle revolution: what if it weren’t a computer and the cloud that was in charge of driving, but a human driving a simulation of the car you’re in?
      5. Check out these augmented reality postage stamps: view the illustration of an historic building with your smartphone, and see a 3D model of it. And now imagine how cool it would be if the postcards you send prospective clients did the same thing.

Coming Soon: Sending Money With Your Voice. Available Now: A FitBit That May Make Apple Nervous. Plus Three More Items in Five for Wednesday.

Welcome to Five for Wednesday, CRT Labs’ long-running (since March 2014!) series of curated tech stories. (Find all the previous posts here.)

 

a photograph of an Amazon Echo speaker

 

      1. Within the next year or so you’ll be able to send someone money via gear that’s running Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa.
        Parents with kids in college are NOT looking forward to this.
      2. FitBit continues their march into Apple territory with the release of their most Apple Watch-like wearable yet, the Versa.
      3. Why did Credit Karma acquire Penny, a personal finance app with a chat interface? Because they’re hoping the software will make it easier for folks to have conversations about things like qualifying for mortgages.
      4. Green tech and sustainability fans, check out the second residential structure that meets the requirements of the Living Building Challenge.
      5. Or maybe you’d rather live in one of these homes, whose owners really, really like smart home tech.

Google Lens Coming To Many Android Phones (And iOS Too); Block Those Annoying Robocalls To Your Cell Phone; More in Five for Wednesday

Welcome to Five for Wednesday, CRT Labs’ long-running (since March 2014!) series of curated tech stories. (Find all the previous posts here.) Staring with this week’s installment, Five for Wednesday will appear here at crtlabs.org.

 

 

      1. Google Lens allows users to use their phone’s camera to create contacts from business cards, learn about famous landmarks, and “make sense of the visual world.” Are you thinking “wow, that would be great for real estate?” The answer is yes.
      2. Learn more: Lifehacker has a brief how-to about Google Lens.
      3. Getting more unwelcome and annoying calls on your cell phone? We are too. Here’s what you can do about it.
      4. First Amazon bought smart doorbell company Ring; now they’re throwing a lot of support to smart thermostat company Ecobee. There’s a smart home battle that’s about to rage between Amazon and Google.
      5. 2018 will definitely be a breakout year for augmented reality (see the links about Google Lens above). Not only will it help people research and buy real estate, it will help them develop it.

Augmented Reality & What it Means for Real Estate

IKEA Place app allows you to virtually add furniture to an existing room and walk around it and view it to see if it works for you.

Last week, Adrienne wrote a post on our visit to the DIRTT offices here in Chicago. I wanted to look more deeply at augmented reality, or AR and mixed reality, also called MR. I think these two technologies will have a more significant impact than virtual reality, or VR. There are already some pretty cool apps out there for iPhone and Android with augmented capabilities built in. Today, we’ll look at what’s happening and talk about what’s possible with this space.

What is Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality?

The concepts of augmented reality and mixed reality have been around for years and, if you’ve ever watched almost any sport, you’ve witnessed them in action. For instance, in football, when you see the first down marker in yellow, the scrimmage line is in black and the yardage needed as well as time are overlaid on the screen, you are seeing augmented reality in action. It’s when information is overlaid on a true image of an environment.

Mixed reality is similar, but it includes a fixed point in space where the data is anchored. So, the data overlaid in that football game actually stays where the first down and scrimmage lines are and doesn’t move with the action focus of the camera. This type of augmented reality is most likely going to become prevalent in the real estate industry.

As far as specialized equipment goes, you don’t need much. Phones running modern operating systems today can fully realize these technologies. Apple and Google are doing a lot to make headway in this space.

What do I need to use Augmented Reality apps on my phone?

  • First, you need the latest operating systems from either Apple or Google.
    • iOS 11 or Android Oreo (8)
  • Models of phones matter too:
    • iPhone 7 and above
    • Varies for Android (S8, S8+, Pixel phones are sure bets)

Apple’s system, ARKit has garnered a lot of praise because of how simple it is to use for development. Google’s system ARCore is also getting some great praise.

Why does it matter to real estate?

Augmented reality and mixed reality will allow for the display of data in a different format. AR and MR will mean as you walk in an environment, you could have listing data about each part of the house displayed as you experience the house. So, the windows could ‘show’ you when they were installed, what their energy rating is, how many panes of glass there are and all sorts of other information.

It will also make it easier for you as an agent to work. You could add in place notes for the inspector to review (e.g. – there’s a crack by this window and it needs to be repaired stat.) You could also use your phone to measure rooms and get square footage for the space.

Some example apps

So, let’s show some examples. I’ve embedded a number of YouTube videos below to demonstrate how this works. First, let’s look at what this augmented environment looks like using a game. Here is an example of Minecraft with Apple’s ARKit:

Our friends at CleverFranke created a cool demo called EnARgy which shows you how much energy each one of your devices in your home is using. Pretty cool:

Let’s get to real estate applications. Here is an app called Housecraft from Sirvo. This app allows you to place furniture in an environment and resize it, but also allows you to walk around the furniture and experience it. This is an example of mixed reality:


Imagine if you will that using an app similar to Housecraft, you could take 3d renderings of YOUR OWN furniture and place them in a listing to see how the space works out for your stuff.

Another application was created by Realtor.com. It allows consumers to get the price for a property while walking along and pointing their phone’s camera at a property. Called Street Peak, this app is an interesting way to search and view listings as you are in the environment:

Next Steps

This is not a call for every brokerage to build an app using this technology. Look at what is out there and see how you can use it. It will be a couple of years before this space has some more penetration. What I recommend is get yourself familiar with this space and what people are doing. What we will see is a new type of display, so what does that mean for data standards? What does it mean for the consumer in the transaction as well as the agent? How will this streamline the process? How will it cause us to evolve? Leave your thoughts below.

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!