This could be your future: You’re driving hands-free, taking your clients around for a day of showings. While you’re behind the wheel (remember, you’re not actually steering the car), you pull from your pocket a smartphone or tablet and bring up a home’s specs. (Apps display the home’s energy use and maintenance status.)
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As you’re approaching a home, the lights in the house automatically turn on. Sound far-fetched? Well, brace yourself: Some of these capabilities are already here—or are coming soon. Here’s at peek at the latest tech that should be on your radar.
Wearable tech is a big buzzword right now, with the smartwatch business alone is expected to grow from 400,000 shipments this year to 35 million by 2017, according to market research firm Berg Insight. Watchmaker Pebble touts a $249 Pebble Steel smartwatch with leather or metal straps. It can connect to apps from iOS or Android devices for accessing e-mails, calendar alerts, news updates, social media accounts, and maps.
The technology may serve as a discreet way to keep an eye on your business. Real estate tech expert and author Chris Smith says that in order for smartwatches to catch on, they will need to have voice-control capability and connect to all your smartphone apps so that you don’t ever have to take out your phone.
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A smartphone may become the key—literally—to showing a home. Several products are being developed with the goal of creating “connected homes,” which will allow for greater control and monitoring of home appliances and systems from a smartphone. The tech is getting more affordable and simpler to use, mostly through smartphone apps, and could make the connected homes more mainstream within the next decade.
The offerings for greater home connectivity are growing:
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Could texting while driving one day be safe? Automakers are racing to release the first publicly available self-driving car. Manufacturers such as Audi, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, and BMW, among others, are testing the technology. According to officials with Bosch, a global automotive supplier, the company is about seven to 10 years away from having a fully automatic powered car on the roads.
The implications for real estate? Instead of chauffeuring clients to showings, the car will do it for you. That means you can focus on your client instead of the road. The cars use 360--degree sensors without human intervention for accelerating, braking, maneuvering turns, and parking. Driverless cars have been approved by lawmakers for experimentation in several states, such as California, Nevada, and Florida.
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Real estate pros aren’t the only ones hankering to use drones professionally. Filmmakers, land surveyors, and farmers, among others, are waiting for the green light. But everyone may have to wait until next year when the Federal Aviation Administration releases rules addressing safety and privacy issues for commercial drone use, although a court has raised the question of whether it has the authority to enforce a ban until its rules are out. In the meantime, several companies have debuted cost-effective advancements in drone technology.
For example, drone manufacturing company Parrot offered a sneak peek at its upcoming MiniDrone, which can be controlled by a smartphone or tablet to shoot photos and video while flying up to 160 feet high. It also has wheels to climb walls or move across ceilings. It is slated to debut later this year, and while the price has not yet been announced, it is expected to be cheaper than the company’s upgraded $300 A.R. Drone. Also, global drone manufacturer DJI’s Phantom 2 Vision, retailing for about $1,200, can snap 14-megapixel images and record high-definition video.
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