Schumpetrian disruption is on the move and many branches of our industry are not even aware of this fact. Innovation is much more than social media, online marketing and some smart consumer applications.

  • 90 percent of human jobs might be replaced by robots in the next 50 years.
  • Disruptive innovations will change how we work, research and live.
  • We produce 5 quintillion bytes of data per day -- use it.

Schumpetrian disruption is on the move, and many branches of our industry are not even aware. Innovation comprises much more than social media, online marketing and some smart consumer applications.

Five core technological innovations — artificial intelligence, 3-D printing, robotics, synthetic biology and sensors — all have big implications for the industry.

These technologies are laying the groundwork for smart applications, big data and more. Hence, it is essential to get to know the core five and understand how they might impact your business.

Artificial intelligence: Learning machines and more

Artificial intelligence (AI), defined as the development of intelligent machines that can perform human tasks, does not have to be solely created by code but can be built with genetic engineering and more.

AI includes the field of supervised as well as unsupervised machine learning, both of which are relevant to the real estate industry.

Most of you use the internet on a frequent basis. You’ve likely Googled something before, maybe even while reading this article.

In fact, you have all encountered special purpose AI, which performs certain niche tasks better than any human could. Algorithms, statistical models, computing power and the data we work with all make up the essence of AI.

In real estate the applications are manifold. From basic data classification to complex valuation, everything is possible. The first thing to work on is your understanding of the value in the data you produce — and can aggregate.

3-D printing: Not dead and still disruptive

3-D printing, aka additive manufacturing (AM), refers to various processes used to synthesize three-dimensional objects.

Lately, 3-D printing has suffered some severe setbacks, since its impacts could not live up to the expectations.

Still, don’t jump on the bandwagon of labeling the technologies behind it dead.

With the development of new materials that are faster and cheaper to produce as well as more sustainable printing techniques, we will see great impacts, especially in supply-and-demand structures for retail properties and further asset classes.

Just imagine the possibilities: printed properties, small printed models for marketing purposes or personal 3-D printers that make it obsolete to go to certain retail outlets.

Robotics: The tale of the Terminator

Robots were once dumb assistants that could execute heavy lifting and predefined tasks. But with the emergence of AI and better production technologies, they can be humanoid helpers in our daily lives.

The potential is massive, especially for the job market. Andy Haldane, chief economist of the Bank of England, forecasts that robots will substitute 80 million jobs in the U.S. over the next two decades. Entire human-led industries will be substituted and new ones created.

In real estate, we will face robotic assistants, construction workers and autonomous drones that could, for example, scout for relevant properties.

Synthetic biology: The most abstract of them all

Professor Drew Endy of Stanford University posed the question to a TED audience in Stanford: “What would be if we could modify a pine tree in a way that it does not grow pines but computer chips?”

It sounds very unlikely, but is it impossible? We will see.

Synthetic biology can not only be used to create more sustainable and regenerative materials, such as bioplastics from genetically modified and fermented microbes, but could also progress the field of AI or renewable energy sources.

The synthetic biology market is the least commercialized of the five technologies, but it’s predicted to reach 38.7 billion dollar market value by 2020.

Creative real estate innovators should find ways to profit from this innovation.

Sensors: Smart applications a more

Sensors are the gate to the Internet of Things, smart cities and a more efficient, sustainable economy.

They are already vastly used, yet they have not yet penetrated our daily lives in the form of smart homes, infrastructure and entire cities even though it would make our living more efficient and sustainable.

The integration of smart technologies into properties is already a developed market, yet it has not reached the level it should and offers great potential for developers or agents specializing in smart homes.

Start learning

These technologies will change how we work and even live. It is not a question of if, but when and how.

So learn about these technologies and their potential impact on your business. Start working on your added value that cannot easily be substituted while embracing the technology and finding ways to profit from it.

Viktor Weber is the founder and director of the Future Real Estate Institute in Munich. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Email Viktor Weber

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