Storehouse is a new app that excels at making visual storytelling easy. It’s so easy, in fact, that I’ll stop typing and show it to you right now:
PS: Our managing director Chad Curry points out that this would be great for neighborhood virtual tours as well.
Re-ConnectEd is a series about responsible ways of using technology and working to diminish the dependence on our devices and striving to make connections. CRT will look at what members, brokers, associations and people outside of real estate are doing to get Re-ConnectEd. Let us know how you’re getting Re-ConnectEd on Twitter, Facebook or email.
Frederik Heller in our Information Central division at NAR passed along this item to me and I think it could be a great opportunity for offices to get together and make a positive impact in the community. The National Day of Unplugging is a day where you commit to not using your devices for the entire day.
From the National Day of Unplugging site:
We increasingly miss out on the important moments of our lives as we pass the hours with our noses buried in our iPhones and BlackBerry’s, chronicling our every move through Facebook and Twitter and shielding ourselves from the outside world with the bubble of “silence” that our earphones create.
If you recognize that in yourself – or your friends, families or colleagues— join us for the National Day of Unplugging, sign the Unplug pledge and start living a different life: connect with the people in your street, neighborhood and city, have an uninterrupted meal or read a book to your child.
This is exactly why we started the Re-ConnectEd series. I think that this is an amazing opportunity for members, brokerages and associations to make a impact as a team and in a community. Members could grow and connect with their co-workers or community by using this day in one of several ways:
- Have an on-site inservice where you learn something about the area you serve from a local service organization.
- Spend the day volunteering as a team for either a charity or school.
- Use it as a fundraiser for a charity – get people to sponsor your ‘unpluggedness’. For every hour you’re unplugged, they pledge x dollars to a charity.
The point of this exercise is that by unplugging for the day, rather than sitting at your desk and twiddling your thumbs because you have nothing to occupy them, why not take up and engage your community? Show them your value and find the reward in the work.
You don’t necessarily need to do this on March 7, but what if your office had an unplugged day? What kind of things could you get done in that day? What if you set up teams for community service projects and tracked participation as a metric of community support? How would you handle your clients on this day? Would you have someone manage your email? Social?
We have a million members and if only a handful of them do this, it could have a great impact on the whole. Let us know if you plan on participating in the National Day of Unplugging or setting up your own. Contact us on Twitter, Facebook or email.
You would if the director of the Center for Rapid Automated Fabrication Technologies (CRAFT) at USC, Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis has his way, because his “Contour Crafting” system uses 3-D printing technology to reduce the time and cost that it takes to build houses and public buildings.
The massive gantry-and-rail system, around the size of and resembling an large overhead crane, would be either built around a building site, or ingeniously deployed from a purpose-built truck, and would construct buildings by depositing layer after layer of material to create a form that could be filled with concrete or other materials. The key to the work is the design of the nozzle, which consists of three pipes attached to each other. The two smaller pipes on either side of the larger, center pipe would deposit the form material, and are each fitted with a sideways mounted trowel which guarantees that each new layer is seamlessly blended with the layer beneath, leaving what Khoshelvis has described as a “ready to paint surface.” The large center pipe would be used to deposit the material (probably concrete) to complete the wall. The entire process would be controlled by computer, and would be completed within hours.
Various iterations on the process have included auxiliary robotic arms fitted on the gantry in order to lay conduit or ducting as the forms are built, and current designs include full 6-axis articulation of the nozzle, enabling material to be deposited from the sides or beneath, rather than simply from above.
The process would also offer a large reduction in the cost of building the forms of curved concrete walls, as the current manual process to do so is expensive, time-consuming and error-prone.
This past week at Inman Connect, I was fortunate to be part of some interesting conversations about the impact of smart devices on modern relationships. Plus, Arianna Huffington’s keynote focused on how leadership and success come from slowing down and taking care of our personal capital – ourselves. These experiences made me stop and think, ‘what if in addition to exploring new technology, CRT also started exploring responsible use of technology?’
We at CRT often contemplate our role in educating members about technology. We write, discuss and speak about apps, smart home tech, green tech, trends in home development, hardware, programming and the like. We built REpurposedApps for members to share apps they use on a daily basis. More recently we’ve started to think about the impact these technologies have on our day-to-day lives.
Why Make This a Focus?
Along with the many benefits of ubiquitous technology is the side effect of always being connected – always being on. To that end, our new series Re-ConnectEd will explore what it means to have pockets of silence and methods for disconnecting. The intent of the series is to help you make better choices about how you use technology every day and lessen anxiety and disruption created by these devices. We are going to help you find the “Off” button on your devices. Re-ConnectEd is an abbreviation for ‘Responsible Connectivity Education.’
Real estate is a people business, and what happens when it merges with technology? It’s not always smooth. It can get sticky at times. When meeting with a client, how many smart phone Pavlovian moments have you had? A beep or a buzz pulls us to the screen and away from the person a few feet away. While our phones are keeping us connected to our online networks, they’re often keeping us disconnected from real life encounters – with clients, associates, friends, and family.
What Really Matters
It’s really about us. What matters are the relationships and connections we make. That should be our focus. Carpenters rarely hold a hammer the entire time in the workshop. They hold it only when needed. So it should be with technology and real estate. The tool is there when we need it and as an augmentation to the relationship, not a replacement. It shouldn’t be the sum total of who we are. Rather than having the flashiest gadgets, we should be concerned about how technology could support us as a means to an end.
What is driving the need to be always connected? Is there a need? In some cases, you need to keep an eye on your device; e.g. – awaiting a response to a counter-offer, looking for an e-signature on a contract; but we don’t need them with us 24/7. Think about it. What if you had zones that were considered off limits to devices? Islands of solitude? Do you have these already?
We’d love to hear from members who have been thinking about this topic or have worked to change the relationship with technology. Reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook or email. As we explore this topic, CRT will write about resources and people who are approaching technology differently. Let’s work to disconnect so we can get Re-ConnectEd.
If you’re an iOS7 user, you’ve noticed something very different from the previous look and feel of iOS: gone are the icons and apps that looked like their “real-world” counterparts. The Notes app no longer looks like a pad of paper; Newsstand doesn’t simulate wood shelves on which to “hold” virtual books; Game Center ditched the green felt of casino gaming tables. Skeuomorphism is out, and flatness is in. (See Apple’s redesigned icons here, and many more examples here.)
“Flatness” isn’t just something that is now part of iOS7’s aesthetics. Flatness can also be thought of as the reduction or elimination of affordances. And this directly affects usability, which is why I (as a user experience designer) am interested in it.
What’s an affordance?
An affordance is “a property of an object…which allows an individual to perform an action.” In the real world, a good doorknob says “Twist me!” In the world of computer and phone applications, buttons and labels have traditionally broadcast to us how to interact with the screen. But as iOS has grown up, some of those affordances have been removed, and the interaction design has been flattened.
Above (left) is the Reminder app from iOS6; it’s pretty clear that tapping the + icon is the way to enter a new reminder. On the right is what Reminders looks like in iOS7; where would you tap to add a reminder? (HINT: “Edit” isn’t what you’re looking for.)
The answer is “virtually anywhere on the screen.” It might not take that long to figure it out, especially if you have previous experience using a touch-based device. But it is rather odd that something that works so well and is so universally understood — the + sign — has been removed, and I don’t think it’s very intuitive for those buying their first iOS devices.
iOS7′s flat design has also removed buttons, leaving behind the labels that used to sit on top of them. Below is the current Calendar app; note there’s not a button to be seen anywhere, and there’s no visual distinction between what’s simply a text label and what is text that can be tapped.
The forthcoming iOS7.1 will allow users to turn on “Button Shapes,” which will make text that functions as a button look more like, well, a button. You can see a preview of Button Shapes at Isobar’s blog and at Business Insider, or search for “iOS7 button shapes” for many more articles.
Apple’s commitment to flat visual design seems resolute, but putting the power of more visible affordances in the hands of the user is a very smart move.
Smart devices have really taken off over the last couple of years and this is going to be a huge year for them in real estate. At CRT, we are focused on where these are going but we’re not alone at NAR. Our colleagues at REALTOR® Magazine covered some of the Smart Home offerings at CES. Continue reading »
One of my technological passions is cloud-based computer architecture and its open source implementations. Hands down, my favorite open source solution is OpenStack. Initially created through the collaborative efforts of NASA and Rackspace, it now relies on the contribution of developers across the globe and the involvement of companies such as Cisco, Dell, HP and Intel. Continue reading »
Living in an older house, finding a comfortable temperature isn’t always easy. Constantly changing the temperature was a pain. Just when I’d get comfortable, my wife would be cold. Let me walk over to the thermostat and adjust it. Before you know it, it’s too hot, so back to the thermostat. There must be a better way.
I’ve had a Nest thermostat for four months. This is no ordinary thermostat. It does all the heavy lifting for me and it saves money on heating and cooling costs*. It’s pretty hard to imagine getting excited about a thermostat but when you’ve used one for even a few days, you’ll know why I would never go back. Continue reading »
NOTE: Below is a guest post from Rick Davidson, CEO of CENTURY 21 and Chair for the 2014 Emerging Business Issues and Technology Forum. As the Staff Executive for this Forum, I’ll be working with Rick this year and we are excited to get your feedback on topics and ideas. – Chad.
Since the early 1990’s, technological change in the real estate industry has been accelerating as fast as industry experts could take ownership in declaring paradigm shifts that would forever alter the business of real estate. So, too, were predictions about technology, ranging from the disintermediation of the REALTOR® to the advent of a paperless transaction. Like Casey Stengel once said, “Never make predictions, especially about the future.”
That being said, there are a lot of questions we should be asking about technology and real estate. Questions like, “How can it help me provide the best customer experience possible?” “What are the day-to-day applications or is it simply more ‘bells and whistles’? And, “Is this technology an expense or an investment to improve my efficiency and performance levels?” Continue reading »
Yesterday, I posted about the Internet of Things and how Stephen Wolfram is cataloguing the IoT devices. Our colleague from the GREEN REsource Council, Amanda Stinton, forwarded on this article from Eco Building Pulse about a ‘fitbit for your home’.
From the article:
The idea is this: install the sensors throughout a home. (They come in packs of 2, 4, and 6 sensors.) They will glow when the sensors register that something such as CO2 levels are amiss or even if a snoring partner is preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep. In fact, it will even tell you if your dog is barking loudly when yo’re (sic) not home, according to the company’s website. Each box’s glow indicates that homeowners should check in with the CubeSensors app to learn more about the problem and potential fixes.
With CubeSensors, you can monitor air quality, temperature, humidity, noise, light, weather pressure, and even use the built-in accelerometer. This could definitely be something to bring to the attention of the tech-savvy buyer or seller. A relatively small investment could go a long way to making the house more marketable.
What are your thoughts on these devices? Would you use them? Do you think you have clients who might find value in them?