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A Cone, A Ball, and A Puck: The Shapes of Things to Come in Alternative Energy

One of our new charges in CRT is to delve deeper into sustainable technologies and see how they may have practical applications in real estate. We’re constantly looking for new and exciting things that indicate where these technologies are going and could be seen as the starting point for bigger movements. There are three products I want to highlight today as possible milemarkers on this journey. A cone, a ball and a puck: these three simple shapes represent where the future of sustainable energy production is heading.

A Cone: V3 Solar’s CoolSpin – Solar

Solar tech has made amazing progress in the last few years. One product that turns the idea of solar panels on its head is the V3 Solar CoolSpin. It’s not flat but cone shaped. As you see in the animated gif, it sits under glass and spins in place. This motion allows it to keep cooler than a normal solar panel that sits in V3 Solar SpinCellthe sun all day. What’s more, the design of the glass concentrates the light onto the solar cells, allowing it to harvest more energy. One of the interesting claims about this tech is that it can produce energy at a cheaper cost than what comes from the grid. As this is yet to be ready for the market, we will have to wait to see how accurate these findings are in real world application.

Why Does This Tech Matter to You?

Having an eye on this type of technology advancement means you can talk to your clients about where they could realize cost savings with their home and increase its value. If there is a technology that produces power more cheaply than what they’re already paying and you’re aware of it, this is a great value add from you and they’ll be grateful.

A Ball: The Soccket – Kinetic

Kinetic energy devices are where I think the most gains could be made for members. They rely on you and your motion as the energy source. The Soccket (coming soon) was developed for emerging countries without a traditional energy infrastructure. It’s a soccer ball that will power an LED light for 3 hours after only a 1/2 hour of play. In the future, (the not too distant future) this technology could be applied in a number of current products we use today. Car tires, bicycle tires, bags and shoes. Can you imagine charging your cell phone by walking?

Why Does This Tech Matter to You?

As our devices become more and more a part of our lives and need power, companies are going to look to methods for charging that will make it easier for us to remain mobile. Imagine a cell phone that charges with the motion of your walk as it sits in your pocket. Imagine riding a bike to charge your tablet. Or the motion of your car’s wheels runs the auxilary power within the car.

For your clients, a sOccket could be an interesting gift for their kids. They could play with it during the day and have the power they’d need for a nightlight in their rooms. There’s a great deal of movement in your daily life. When technologies such as the Soccket are applied to that movement, your personal power needs will easily be met.

A Puck: Epiphany Labs onE Puck – Stirling Engine

A Stirling EngineComing in the Spring of 2014, the onE Puck is a device that will charge your mobile devices using the heat or cold of your drink. It’s an oversized drink coaster that contains a Stirling engine inside. Essentially, a Stirling engine contains a gas that’s heated or cooled which causes it to make the cyliners in the engine move. Though this technology has been around since the 1800’s, it hasn’t found a lot of practical applications in our daily lives. Epiphany Labs hopes to change that with the onE Puck.

Why Does This Tech Matter to You?

This technology could be applied to things like meeting tables, so as your meeting, you could have a place to set your drink and plug your phone into. NAR’s Director of Digital Engagement, Nobu Hata, and I were speaking about this device, and what he mentioned was that a major car manufacturer is looking at putting these in cup holders to as a way to keep your devices running. Someone could go another step further and build this right into cups and mugs with batteries and you’d create a backup battery for your device as you take your water bottle with you.

The Shape of Things to Come

The goal of this post was to give you a thumbnail sketch of what’s coming in the very very near future and how it could impact our lives. Each one of these items are built from technologies that have been around for decades, even centuries. With the rate at which our technologies evolve and become even more efficient, they will become ubiquitous. What problems could these technologies solve for you? Do you think you can use these when they’re available? Are there any other technologies you’re aware of that fit this realm? Let us know in the comments. Thanks for reading.

Chad Curry

Managing Director for the Center for REALTOR® Technology. Working to improve the value proposition to our members through our web properties and mobile space.

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