Check out some of the latest offerings in the tech world to smarten up your real estate office.
Voice assistants, bendable devices, artificial intelligence, security gadgets, and more were showcased at the International Consumer Electronics Show 2020, the tech industry’s annual mega event in Las Vegas in early January.
As the era of 5G cellular service arrives, connected devices are becoming more prolific, and at speeds up to 100 times faster than current models—with the promise of increasing business efficiencies from anywhere. And voice control can make it simple to operate all of this new technology.
Learn about some of the newest devices showcased at CES 2020 that could offer promise for your real estate brokerage.
Technology companies have long had a goal of making devices more mobile. Their latest iteration has focused on ultra-thin, bendable phones, tablets, and laptops that can easily slide into a pocket or purse since they promise to be less prone to breaking. Curved TV screens and phones have been touted at CES shows in recent years. But this year, tech companies highlighted bendable tablets and laptops.
Lenovo, a REALTOR Benefits® Partner, announced at CES 2020 that it’s ready to launch the world’s first laptop with a foldable screen—the ThinkPad X1 Fold. The ThinkPad X1 Fold features a 13.3-inch screen that bends inward to snap shut magnetically. It offers a built-in kickstand to prop it up on a desk. Price: $2,499 Available: mid-2020
The Ori, which is short for origami, is a prototype from Dell, also a REALTOR Benefits® Partner, that features a 13.4-inch, plastic organic LED screen that can fold 90 degrees and then operate like two screens on one device. For example, half of the screen can be used for a display; the other half can be used as an on-screen keyboard. Price: Not yet available. Available: No set release date.
Intel’s Horseshoe Bend, also a prototype, is a 17.3-inch foldable tablet PC. It isn’t likely to hit stores anytime soon, but Intel wanted to show the possibilities of making a foldable screen that wouldn’t break on a sizable device. Price: Not yet available. Available: No set release date.
Many of the products that debuted at CES 2020 focus on productivity. From voice-enabled devices to faster connections that allow remote workers to more seamlessly operate their businesses, here are a few tools that can help with brokerage efficiency.
Voice assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant, are being used more frequently in the workplace. Google had a big presence at CES 2020, debuting several new features coming to its voice assistant. For example, Google announced the ability to leave digital Post-It notes through its Household Notes skill. (for example, “Hey, Google, leave a note: I’m at a showing.”) On devices with screens, you can leave a digital message that appears like on a chalkboard at your desk for others to see.
Google also announced that it’s expanding its read-aloud feature in Google Assistant. You can ask your digital assistant to read long articles, emails, and other content to you (such as “Hey, Google, read this page to me.”). It can also translate messages into 42 languages. Several companies at CES 2020 also showed Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility built into a variety of smart-home devices, making operation a cinch via voice commands.
Faster connection speeds: As more devices get connected, a home router could be stretched thin and began to lag. Wi-Fi 6 routers aren’t new, but they’ve been pricey additions to a home office. Companies presented lower-cost options at CES 2020. For example, Netgear’s Nighthawk Mesh includes two Wi-Fi 6 routers for $230 (to be available in March). The system supports up to 1.8 Gbps of bandwidth and provides 1,500 square feet of coverage per node. Other low-cost company introductions of Wi-Fi 6 routers at CES 2020 included three tiers of TP-Link’s Deco Mesh Wi-Fi 6 systems, starting as a two-pack for $270 (due in March), and D-Link’s Smart AX1500 Mesh that offers 1.5Gbps through dual-band antennas ($120; available in the first quarter).
Ultramobile laptops and two-in-ones: Dell’s Latitude 9510, marketed as the world’s lightest business laptop at just 3.2 pounds, comes with either a 15.6-inch or a 15-inch display. This is Dell’s first PC built with 5G connectivity, giving it the ability to stream content at superfast speeds. While 5G is not widely available yet, this is viewed as future-proofing a computer for when 5G is more common. Dell’s 9510 features 16GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD storage. It can be used as a laptop or a two-in-one (tablet and laptop). The 9510 also features improved battery performance, capable of a 30-hour run time on one charge. Price: $1,799 Available: March 26, 2020
Safety is an important topic for real estate professionals, and brokerages are looking for ways to keep their sales associates safe on the job. CES 2020 showed several wireless safety devices that could be used by agents, whether it’s for personal safety or data privacy.
Smart locks: Keep personal items secure at showings, open houses, or your office. CES 2020 showed off smart locks, such as the Yale Smart Cabinet Lock. It’s a small device that you can stick onto any existing cabinet, drawer, or storage system to keep contents protected and secure. Sync it with a Wi-Fi bridge to gain access remotely—lock or unlock it from anywhere, and see who opened it last and when. Price: $79 or $129 with the bundled Wi-Fi bridge included Available: Spring 2020
Data security:Avast Omni, a CES 2020 Innovation Award honoree, is a data security device. Plug it into a router to secure connected devices. You’ll receive alerts of any suspicious activity. It uses artificial intelligence to automatically identify and block suspicious malware. The app also offers security for computers and mobile devices for remote privacy protection. The company has several small-business solutions, too. Price: starting at $20 Available: Now
Facebook made a rare appearance to present its updated Privacy Checkup Tool, the company’s first major update to its privacy tool since it was created in 2014. The new tool offers a central tab to change settings, such as revising who can view your profile or send you friend requests, as well as enable login alerts and allow you to more easily review permission settings for third-party apps.
Mobile home and office security devices: Several smart-home security devices are now wireless, allowing real estate pros or homeowners to more easily take them anywhere to keep an eye on their surroundings. For example, the BodyGuardz portable over-the-door camera is like a portable, digital peephole. It features a camera that slips over the top of a door via a metal bracket. One side has a wide-angle camera that captures what’s happening outside; the other side has an LCD display with a live feed as well as a camera pointed inside for dual recording. Its equipped with a microphone for two-way communication. The recording is stored in the cloud and can be accessed via a smartphone app for monitoring and talking with visitors in real time. Price: $280 Available: Now
Another portable smart-home device: Arlo’s Pro 3 presented the first wire-free floodlight camera. It has a camera inside with color night vision and the ability to zoom in on either live or recorded footage. Mount it anywhere and move it as needed. It’s battery-powered, lasting up to six months on one charge, according to some media reviews. The floodlight is capable of illuminating a large area with LED lights that can be activated by motion or via a manual switch. It includes a built-in siren and two-way audio to speak with visitors. Price: $250 Available: spring 2020
Unusual CES Tools: What are the Future Real Estate Implications?
CES is known for some outside-the-box introductions. Each year, companies try to predict the future directions of technology and show off the possibilities. Some of these futuristic gadgets—even those that are a little bizarre—may one day have some real estate applications. Consider some of the following:
Artificial humans: Neon, backed by Samsung, is a digital avatar that debuted at CES 2020 and generated a lot of buzz. The Star Trek–like prototype showed the potential of humanesque chatbots. Neon is a computer-generated human capable of showing emotion and intelligence. The prototype includes speech and facial gestures that appear like a real person. One day, you might be able to send your digital avatar to a showing on your behalf.
Robotic arms: Packing up and moving to a new home could one day become easier for your clients. The Sarcos Guardian XO Exoskeleton is a robotic arm that is capable of lifting and moving 200 pounds at a time. Consider the potential for staging properties and hauling furniture to different areas of a home or office. The robotic arm is being marketed to industrial workers and some airlines for moving heavy items like suitcases.
AR in your eye: In 2013, Google first presented a prototype of Google Glass that brought digital information into your line of sight via clunky eyeglasses. Some still believe that delivering AR via glasses offers promise. Human Capable’s Norm Glasses received a “best of” innovation award at CES 2020. It contains an Android-based computer inside the glasses’ frames, which were created to feel and look like regular glasses. Using voice commands, users can display messages, information, and more in their line of sight, as well as listen to music or make phone calls. The glasses include dual speakers, and the company says they’re lighter than many traditional eyeglasses even though they contain electronics inside.
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Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, editor of the Styled, Staged & Sold blog, and produces a segment called "Hot or Not?" in home design that airs on NAR’s Real Estate Today radio show. Follow Melissa on Instagram and Twitter at @housingmuse.