From calendar scheduling to website monitoring, voice-activated digital assistants, such as those powered by Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant, are starting to aid brokerages with day-to-day operations.

Voice-activated digital assistants equipped with artificial intelligence are among the hottest and fastest growing technology on the market today. In REALTOR® Magazine’s companion story, we analyze how Alexa or Google Assistant can be used for connecting with buyers and sellers. Now, take a look at five ways real estate firms can incorporate this technology in their office.

1. Use it for scheduling. Speak your to-do list and have items added onto your calendar. For example, FreeBusy Scheduling Assistant will help you coordinate meetings and keep track of your workday schedule. You can ask Alexa to check a contact’s schedule as well as your own, or book conference calls and meetings. The program can sync with several calendars, such as Exchange, Google Calendar, and Microsoft Outlook.

2. Create a smart office. Connect Google Home to your office’s thermostat and lighting to control them with verbal commands. When you arrive at the office, you can say, “OK, Google, turn on the lights.” You could also say, “OK, Google, I’m leaving,” to automatically shut off lights, adjust the thermostat, and activate security cameras as you exit the building.

3. Edit documents. Edit or create documents with voice prompts to capture notes on the go. For example, Edit Docs is available for Alexa-enabled devices. You can sync it to your Gmail account with Google Drive, and the program can scan your 10 most recently used files. You can also speak commands to create and open a Google Slides or Google Docs file or edit or add to your other files. You could say: “Alexa, ask Edit Docs to create a document called ‘John Doe House Notes.’”

4. Use it as a messaging center. Cue up a phone call or send text messages through voice commands and voice-to-text services. Both Google and Amazon are reportedly working on making their AI voice devices better at answering and placing phone calls and serving as a messaging center. Currently in closed beta mode, Alexa’s Mastermind app shows how you can verbally access phone notifications, initiate phone calls, access caller ID, or retrieve or send text messages. You can also use it to read and manage notifications from social media apps or your email. For instance, when your phone dings, you can say: “Alexa, ask Mastermind, ‘What was that?’” Mastermind will then read the notification you received without you ever needing to glance at your phone.

5. Create your own AI-powered skill. You can build in your own voice-enabled shortcut geared directly to your business operations. Create a voice-powered skill, as apps for voice-assisted devices are called, for Alexa by consulting its Alexa Skills Kit, or hire a developer to create a new skill for it. Tristan Ahumada, team leader of Tristan and Associates with Keller Williams Realty in Westlake Village, Calif., hired a developer to program his Amazon Echo device so it could respond to 20 different questions from visitors at open houses with details about the listing. Amazon first made the Alexa Skills Kit available to developers in June 2015, which sped the growth in applications that use Alexa as their user interface. (As of February 2017, Amazon announced that the number of skills for Alexa reached the 10,000 mark.) Meanwhile, Google launched Actions on Google in December 2016, which has allowed developers to use Google Assistant to work as a user interface for Google Home skills.


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