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Meet Cam: Using cool widgets to improve our video calls

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) With video calls here to stay, any tools to improve them are more than welcome in our book. Let’s take a look at what Meet Cam has to offer.

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Video conference call on skype, without Meet Cam widgets.

Let’s face it. Video calls are here to stay, and anything that might make our meetings remotely better is worth checking out. So, take a look at Meet Cam.

Meet Cam is a virtual camera for macOS that lets you overlay visual widgets on top of your camera image, such as a timer, agenda, or GIFs. The app works with any app that uses a camera. This means it works with popular video meeting apps like Zoom and Google Meet.

The app has a variety of features that help bring order to meetings, but make them fun at the same time.

Let’s get down to business.

We all have at least one meeting that manages to always go over. Either enough time wasn’t scheduled to go over a project, or people were going on and on without getting to the point.

Meet Cam has a couple of cool features that will help meetings stay on track and not run long.

There is a Meeting Timer widget that displays how much time is left in the meeting. The timer is located on the top right corner of the video, and everyone can see the timer on their screen. So, as less time remains and the numbers start turning red, you know it’s time to wrap things up.

Not to be confused with the Meeting Timer, the Countdown Timer widget, is a timebox used to specifically keep track of time being spent per activity. A countdown timer is displayed in the block of the person who is speaking. This gives them a certain amount of time to get through X, Y, Z. With everyone having the same allotted time to talk, everyone can pace themselves without worrying about not everyone putting in their input.

If you’re someone who really likes checking things off a list, the Agenda widget might be just what you’ve been looking for. This widget displays like a typical list, and it can be used to structure your meeting. As you go over each item on there, you can mark them off as you go. This makes it clear for everyone to know what topics have been discussed and what other topics are still pending.

It can’t be all work and no play.

Have you ever wanted to be a TV news reporter? Well, you don’t have to be one to look like one. Meet Cam’s Headline widget appears much like a static news ticker on the lower portion of your video. With it, you can write a sentence to draw everyone’s focus to a specific topic. And, for a livelier touch, you can write a friendly headline to give reminders, such as “Turn on your camera. 📹 Use headphones. 🎧 Be kind. 😃”

Plain text can sometimes get boring, but the Emoji widget can help you express yourself so much better. The large, animated emoji appears right in the center of your screen. So, if someone is doing a good job, you can give them a thumbs up. Also, this helps eliminate any accidental interruptions because the emoji will silently communicate the expression for you.

To take it to the next level, you can also display animated GIFs. This works just like the emoji widget. The only difference (in my opinion) is that it gives your communication so much more pizazz!

From the looks of it, Meet Cam does have some pretty neat features that have the potential to make meetings more productive and fun. The app is relatively new and some features still need to be implemented. If you’d like to check them out, you can visit their website.

Veronica Garcia has a Bachelor of Journalism and Bachelor of Science in Radio/TV/Film from The University of Texas at Austin. When she’s not writing, she’s in the kitchen trying to attempt every Nailed It! dessert, or on the hunt trying to find the latest Funko Pop! to add to her collection.

Real Estate Technology

Your office could benefit from a more open floor plan

(TECHNOLOGY NEWS) Science proves that open floor plans are more conducive to office productivity, but will it work for everyone?

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open office

If you walk into a tech startup, nine times out of ten you’ll find an open seating/bull-pen style seating. Whereas traditional work environments are divided up into departments with individual offices and cubicles, open office floor plans put all employees in the same room. Studies have shown that cubicles don’t increase productivity. As a matter of fact, people are more productive when they are sitting close together, but can see each other.

Pros of openness

Some of the advantages of an open office floor plan are obvious. These kinds of offices are economical because you can fit more people and more desks in less space, and because it is more efficient to heat, cool, and light one large room than several small rooms.

Open office plans also facilitate communication between managers and their employees, and between departments.

Rather than taking the stairs or hiking down the hall to collaborate with another person, you can simply holler across the room.

Cons of openness

Unfortunately, all of that hollering can sometimes be pretty distracting. A University of Sydney study found that half of workers in open offices say that the most frustrating part of their workplace is the “lack of sound privacy.”

Open offices are not only noisy, but are also less secure, since everyone can overhear one another.

Employees may get peeved if they can’t concentrate because of all the noise around them, or can’t make a phone call without being overheard.

Dr. Who inspired solution

A startup called Framery Acoustics offers a solution.

They create soundproof phone booths and meeting pods designed to complement open office floor plans.

One of the founders, who previously worked in an open office, complained that his boss talked too loudly on his cellphone. His boss replied, “Well, get me a phone booth.” Thus, Framery Acoustics was born.

Simple solutions

Framery Acoustics is just one company that offers a product suited to appease open office dissenters. Framery Acoustics isn’t ready to give up on openness and neither should you. So, when it comes time to return to your office (if you haven’t already), look for ways to make your office more flexible. Whether it is by providing a quiet capsule for private meetings and phone calls or just having a designated section for meeting, the solution is out there.

Compromising allows you to reap the benefits of an open office plan, while still ensuring that you and your officemates have privacy and quiet when it is needed.

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Real Estate Technology

3D printed homes are now gaining traction outside of the US and China

(TECHNOLOGY) Other countries are now using 3d printing to build homes to underscore their infrastructure. This shows the viability of the technology!

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3D printing

Recently, we reported that Lennar was using 3D printing to build homes in Austin. In 2014, the BBC reported that China was printing up to 10 homes a day at the low cost of $5000 per home. This trend is making strides in the real estate market, even though there’s still a long way to go. In a move that should give the industry confidence in 3D printing, Indonesia’s Public Works and Public Housing (PUPR) Ministry announced that they are using concrete 3D printing to build homes in rural areas. Eventually, plans are in the works to construct schools.

Using 3D printing to build an infrastructure

Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country. As with most countries, housing expenses are climbing in both urban and rural areas. According to Habitat for Humanity, 11.3% of the population lives below the poverty line. For comparison, in September, the U.S. Census Bureau released information that the U.S poverty rate increased to 11.4%, one percentage point over the same time in 2020. Affordable housing is a problem in Indonesia.

“This technology really helps us, so we can build faster, more accurately, and with precision,’ explains Kusumastuti, Indonesia’s Director General of Human Settlements.” The PUPR reports that 3D printing reduces waste and improves construction quality. Considering that up to 70% of housing is built by individuals, not private developers or the government, using 3D printing under the PUPR Ministry is an upgrade in a country that deals with many types of economic disasters, due to its climate.

3D printing’s potential for real estate

As 3D printing is used in more construction projects, not only in the U.S. and China, it’s hoped that the real estate industry embraces the technology. Indonesia isn’t the only country that is trying out 3D printing. 14Trees constructed a school in Malawi using this method already, with the project taking around 18 hours. The company is undertaking more projects in Africa using this technology and more companies are building houses using 3D printing in the United States. It will be exciting to watch how this plays out in the various markets.

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Real Estate Technology

Why everyone and their mother own spy machines (aka smart speakers)

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) Regardless of privacy issues with them, what does information about smart speakers, ownership, and usage tell us about future trends?

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smart speakers scare me

I don’t trust smart speakers, but even I can (begrudgingly) admit why they might be convenient. With just a simple wake word, I would be able to do anything from inquire about the weather or turn down my own music from across the room. And the thing is, plenty of people have bought into this sort of sales pitch. In fact, the worldwide revenue of smart speakers more than doubled between 2017 and 2018. And it’s projected that by 2022, the total revenue from smart speakers will reach almost $30 billion.

With over 25% of adults in the United States owning at least one smart speaker, it’s worth figuring out how we’re using this new tech…and how it could be used against us.

First things first: Despite the horror stories we hear about voice-command shopping – like when a pet parrot figured out how to make purchases on Alexa – people aren’t really using their smart speakers to buy things. In fact, in the list of top ten uses for a smart speaker, making a purchase is at the bottom.

Before you breathe a sigh of relief, though, it’s worth knowing where advertisements might crop up in more subtle places.

Sure, people aren’t using their smart speakers to make many purchases, but they’re still using the speakers for other things – primarily asking questions and getting updates on things like weather and traffic. And I get it, why scroll through the internet looking for an answer that Alexa might be able to pull up for you instantly?

That said, it also provides marketers with a great opportunity to advertise to you in a way that feels conversational. Imagine asking about a wait time for a popular restaurant. If the wait is too long, it creates the perfect opportunity for Alexa to suggest UberEats as an alternative (promotion paid for by UberEats, of course).

Don’t get me wrong, this is already happening when you search Google on your phone or computer. Search for a tire company, for instance, and the competitors are sure to appear in your results. But as more and more consumers start turning their attention to smart speakers, it’s worth being aware that they won’t be the only ones.

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