Does your multiple listing service have a system where you can open a lockbox with your cell phone? If so, you have already experienced what is known as “The Internet of Things.” Over the next decade look for this trend to completely reshape both your business and personal life.

What is the “Internet of Things?” High-tech entrepreneur Kevin Ashton, who coined the term “Internet of Things,” defines it the following way:

“People have limited time, attention and accuracy — all of which means they are not very good at capturing data about things in the real world. And that’s a big deal. We’re physical, and so is our environment. …

“You can’t eat bits, burn them to stay warm, or put them in your gas tank. Ideas and information are important, but things matter much more. Yet today’s information technology is so dependent on data originated by people that our computers know more about ideas than things. If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things — using data they gathered without any help from us — we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost.

“We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling, and whether they were fresh or past their best. The Internet of Things has the potential to change the world, just as the Internet did. Maybe even more so.”

How will the Internet of Things show up in your life? Here are five examples that are already in the marketplace.

Supra eKey Professional

This technology won the 2013 Inman Innovator Award for Most Innovative Use of a New Technology. Supra went beyond just allowing agents to access lockboxes through their mobile devices; it integrated the ability to store MLS data on those devices, link listings to Google maps, as well as other productivity features.

Nest thermostat

The Nest thermostat is a terrific example of the marriage between the Internet and “things.” Nest allows you to operate your heating and air conditioning from any place where you have an Internet connection and a mobile device. Turn on the heat before you arrive home or turn off the air conditioning that you forgot to change before you left on a two-week vacation.

Microsoft and other companies have also created “Smart House” systems that let you manage virtually all the things in your home remotely. You can control the temperature, set the timer on the coffee maker, or do a host of tasks from your mobile device.

Knockey: no keys needed

The “Knockey” demonstration at Connect began with the stage crew bringing out a full-size door and door jamb. Matt Murphy, the creator of Knockey, showed how “Knockey” recognizes your knock pattern as opposed to having to use a key. Knockey has a motorized device that unlocks the door in response to a specific knock pattern that you select. When you knock on the door, one of two things happens. If your knock matches the pattern you selected, the motor inside the door unlocks the lock. If your knock pattern doesn’t match, you hear a series of beeps indicating that you have the wrong sequence.

Romo: a mini robot married with the iPhone

The first robot demonstrated at Connect was Romo. Keller Rinaudo, CEO and co-founder at Romotive, maker of Romo, explained how his company’s goal was to build a robot that anyone from 8 to 80 could use. Romo is a small, inexpensive robot that costs $150. This smartphone-powered mini robot can “motor along with you on a walk, slide you a cup of coffee across the table, and react to you with programmable expressions.” In fact, if you mistreat Romo, it will run away from you.

Rinaudo pointed out a number of real estate uses for Romo. First, you could literally do 10-20 house tours in less than an hour having Romo walk through the house using the video camera to share what it is “seeing.”

Murphy also says that Romo can help keep an eye on elderly parents when someone can’t be with them, as well as being very effective for use with autistic children.


Jay Liew also demonstrated the “Double” robot from Double Robotics. This robot is already being used in real estate. “Double” is essentially an iPad on wheels.

As Digital Trends contributor Trevor Mogg described in his blog, imagine “you are seated at your desk when this iPad perched on a kind of pared-down Segway rolls up beside you. On the screen is the face of one of your co-workers located in another country who today is poking about your office, getting to know the layout, meeting some new people, asking a few questions. After a brief chat, it rolls off to the other side of the office. You look up five minutes later and do a double-take as you notice two of these devices having a conversation with each other by the water cooler.”

Today, military families in Afghanistan are using Double to help them make better decisions about which property to buy, even when a member of the family is thousands of miles away.

The future?

The Internet of Things is in its infancy. Look for household “things” to become much more slick and beautiful, as well as for robots who will care for the ill, drive our cars and perhaps even do our showings for us.

Or imagine this: You have a transaction closing today. Rather than having to drive across town, you link to the title company’s Double, as do your clients; you meet at the closing table, sign remotely and close. You then give your clients the code for Knockey and you never even had to leave the office.

Bernice Ross, CEO of, is a national speaker, trainer and author of the National Association of Realtors’ No. 1 best-seller, “Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success.” Hear Bernice’s five-minute daily real estate show, just named “new and notable” by iTunes, at

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