Before it was in our pockets, connected to our television or helping us navigate traffic, it was at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The annual showcase for everything digital, coded and cool is the proverbial coming out party for the gadgetry we all covet come the following holiday season.

  • For all its glitz and suave, virtual reality is long a way from having an impact on the real estate industry.

Have suggestions for products that you’d like to see reviewed by our real estate technology expert? Email Craig Rowe.

Before it was in our pockets, connected to our television or helping us navigate traffic, it was at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

The annual showcase for everything digital, coded and cool is the proverbial coming out party for the gadgetry we all covet come the following holiday season.

Having attended CES, I can tell you that it makes San Diego Comic-Con look like a gathering of private university fraternity presidents.

As purveyors of what makes us more efficient in the workplace and faster in the field, real estate agents could benefit from knowing a bit about what’s on the consumer technology horizon.

Amazon’s Echo: You can say that again

If you haven’t heard (of) Amazon’s Alexa, you will.

Amazon-Echo

In fact, she may open the door for your clients, turn off the security system, brighten rooms and provide a tour of the home you’re trying to sell when you can’t make it across town.

Alexa is the personification of Echo, the online retailer’s voice-responsive smart device. It’s Siri, but taller.

CES makes San Diego Comic-Con look like a gathering of private university fraternity presidents.

Being one of earth’s most recognized tech retailers, Amazon took little time linking the loquacious Echo to third-party devices like Nest thermostats, Philips smart lighting systems and various home security cameras and networks.

The device can rattle off local news, traffic reports, restaurant reviews and shopping information, as well as perform a host of other inter-home tasks, the list of which is rapidly growing into what’s being called “The Internet of Things.”

I can envision agent-less showing services adding an Alexa-type presence to assist prospective buyers with home tour questions about nearby schools or the best commuting routes to the local business district.

Which major franchise will be the first to build an app for Echo that embeds listing data for truly AI home tours?

Don’t call me a drone

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or UAVs — which you will forever remember to call them if you ever meet an Air Force pilot responsible for flying the real ones, you know, like in war — are taking over the camera market.

To accommodate the confusion, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has coined the term UAS, standing for Unmanned Aerial System.

Real estate agents would be wise to hop on board.

FAA regulations initially limited the flying camera’s commercial adoption, but if Bluetooth ear pieces taught us anything, it’s that gadget hounds will not be swayed into submission. The usage requirements have been made more clear of late.

Any product between .55 and 55 pounds must be registered with the FAA. For commercial purposes, you have to use the manual (paper) process.

CES revealed no less than 25 “non-toy” UAS products, like the tiny tagalong onagofly.

Like many others in the UAS category, the onagofly uses GPS tracking to follow its “master.”

The advantage with this Wi-Fi-enabled little guy is that it’s smaller than a paperback (5 inches long, 5 inches wide and 2 inches high), so it can follow you around a house — and, of course, outside it.

Built-in infrared sensors help keep it in between the ditches, so to speak. That way, it won’t bump into your client’s family heirlooms. Or a passing police helicopter.

Is this real life?

For virtual reality fans, no, it’s not real yet.

I just don’t see VR having any sort if impact on real estate sales in 2016. It’s slick, it’s “future,” but its business applications are still just that — virtual.

Now, augmented reality is one thing. It’s more practical, and the company Augmented Pixels showed some of that practicality at Inman Connect San Francisco.

I feel the tech is not yet light enough, requires too much computing power and simply resides in a tech vertical too niche for the Zillow browsers. Plus, you know, those headsets.

Virtual Reality was all over CES, but it was there last year as well. I see this as an indication that manufacturers are not yet confident of its place outside of gaming. Fine. That’s a huge market.

But it doesn’t sell houses.

Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe.

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