Brokerage

Will robots replace Realtors? Automated showing agents, self-healing houses on the horizon

Future tech aims to radically change how we conduct business

Several years ago at Real Estate Connect, one of the speakers shared how nanotechnology and robotics would revolutionize the real estate industry. With “self-driving” cars, dancing robots and self-healing houses, we are now standing on the edge of that revolution.

At the most recent Real Estate Connect, we were introduced to the “Double” robot. One of these robots showed up on the season premiere of “The Good Wife.” While the writers had a great time running the robot into doors and kicking it out of meetings, the show demonstrated a whole new skill set that we are going to have to adjust to fairly quickly — how we will interact with both humans who join us digitally as well as actual robots that behave like human beings.

Will robots replace Realtors?

A recent study by Oxford University researchers Carl Frey and Michael Osborne estimates that 47 percent of U.S. jobs are at risk of being automated. According to the authors:

“Our model predicts that most workers in transportation and logistics occupations, together with the bulk of office and administrative support workers, and labor in production occupations, are at risk. These findings are consistent with recent technological developments documented in the literature. More surprisingly, we find that a substantial share of employment in service occupations, where most U.S. job growth has occurred over the past decades (Autor and Dorn, 2013), is highly susceptible to computerization.”

While robots/computers are very poor at creative and social intelligence, imagine what a robot could do for other aspects of your business. At the top of the list for most highly productive agents is having a showing assistant.

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The robotic showing agent

... Scientists have already developed a 'self-healing concrete' that allows houses with cracks from earthquakes and settling to 'heal themselves.'

Google and Mercedes, as well as a number of other car companies, are already working on a self-driving car. The Lexus LS460 sedan can already parallel park itself, and other 2014 models boast new technologies that will automatically steer or brake your car out of danger.

Some futurists have even speculated that we won’t need to own cars. You will call up a car using a service like Uber and it will take you to your destination. If you were doing a showing, you could send your car service to pick up your clients and have a separate car drop you off at the first showing, saving you commute time to pick up your clients.

Couple these advances with the Honda’s Asimo robot and you now have the potential to have an automated showing assistant. (Click on this link to see how the robot actually dances.)

Nanotechnology: self-healing houses, handsets and eyephones

Nanotechnology literally allows objects to shift shapes. In fact, scientists have already developed a “self-healing concrete” that allows houses with cracks from earthquakes and settling to “heal themselves.”

With the advent of 3-D printing, futurists are predicting that we will soon have buildings that can literally build and repair themselves.

Where you will be most likely to encounter nanotechnology will be with your cellphone. One of the most intriguing concepts for future phones is Nokia’s Morph, a “concept mobile phone” that was unveiled at the University of Cambridge’s Nanoscience Center.

“Morph was designed to provide a conceptual showcase for future applications of nanotechnology in the realm of consumer electronics. The phone’s theoretical feature list would include the ability to bend into numerous shapes, so it can be worn around the wrist or held up to the face; transparent electronics, which would allow the device to be see-through yet functional; and self-cleaning surfaces that can absorb solar energy to recharge the phone’s battery. The manufacturer believes that some of the device’s imagined features could appear in high-end devices by 2015.”

Morph’s ability to stretch and shift shapes is illustrated in these various images.

What is even more intriguing, however, is the augmented reality version of the cellphone. In this approach, you merely click your fingers together to bring up the phone function, which is projected via augmented reality glasses onto your hand.

While everyone seems to be taken with Google glasses, an even more compact option may be available in the very near future. Rather than having an iPhone, you may one day have a contact lens that serves as your “eye phone.”

“Scientists have developed a new technology that allows electronic messages sent from mobile phones to be projected on to a contact lens placed in the recipient’s eyes.”

“It is a step towards ‘fully pixelated contact lens displays‘ with the same detail as a TV screen, which could completely transform the way we communicate. The new technology means the entire surface of the contact lens can be used to project images and messages.”

There’s no doubt about the fact that the way we conduct our businesses 10 or 20 years from now will be radically different from today, especially as robotics, augmented reality, and nanotechnology change how we act with machines and with each other.

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, 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 www.RealEstateCoachRadio.com.