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RFID technology’s resurgence and why you need it

(TECH NEWS) RFID technology is nothing new yet it continues to revolutionize the tech industry

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What is all of this RFID talk about?

A RFID (Radio Frequency Identifier) is a small device used for tracking or identification. A typical tag consists of a chip, memory and antenna.

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Most new RFID tags utilize Bluetooth technology.

Nothing new

RFID technology is nothing new.

It has been around for over 10 years already.

However, while it is nothing new, RFID is a technology that people remain highly interested in. It seems that in recent years an entire market for RFID has exploded.

Why do you need RFID?

How many times have you misplaced something? If you are anything like me, more times than you’d care to admit. I have spent more than a few minutes of my life looking for keys, sunglasses, and my debit card (a few times I have even been holding/wearing the item I’m looking for).

With RFID tags, you can place a small tag/sticker on items you frequently misplace, and use the tracking technology (often coupled with a smartphone app) to find your items quickly.

If you have ever lost your keys, phone, tablet, wallet, or remote; RFID tags can end the frustration. This is especially useful for business professionals always on the go.

Tag all of the things, even your dog

When you tag your phone, briefcase, laptop, or even your luggage, your smartphone will alert you when the item is out of a set range (say 100 feet) and when it returns. If you are at a conference and leave your briefcase in the meeting room, as soon as you get halfway down that long hallway, your smartphone will alert you that you’ve left the item behind and you need to go back for it. Super helpful.

RFID devices are even used with pet doors.

If you place a device on your pets’ collar, the pet door reads the chip and allows them to enter, but only your pets. This will keep out those pesky raccoons that try to come in and help themselves to your refrigerator.

Four RFID options

Previously, we discussed four RFID trackers and their advantages. Here’s a follow up on those four, plus a couple of new kids on the RFID block. These are all basic, but popular options to get your feet wet with the RFID technology:

StickNFind is one company offering these devices. The device is about the size of a quarter. It costs $25 and you can track anything you tag with a device via your smartphone. You can have up to twenty active stickers (devices) at a time. The smartphone application also allows users to trigger an alert if a sticker moves out of a specified range. This is called the “Virtual Leash” feature; users can set a distance range for each sticker, like I mentioned above.

Update: They now come in several different colors, including clear so that the sticker is hardly noticeable. They have also expanded out into indoor Bluetooth beacons, as well as enterprise type beacons.

ItemTrackr can track any Bluetooth device such as cars, headsets, low energy tags (like SticknFind) and much more. You can ring your lost Bluetooth device from the app. It will also record the GPS map and time you lost your item. This is especially helpful when you need to remember where you parked your car or left your keys. There is also something called, “separation alert:” if you are about to walk off without your Bluetooth device, the app will play a reminder so that you do not forget it.

Update: Trackr has sold over 4.5 million devices. Now, you can also press the Trackr tag if you’ve lost your phone and the Trackr will ring your phone and help you find it, even if it’s on silent. Trackr also offer Amazon Alexa integration allowing you to simply ask Alexa, “Ask Trackr to find my phone” and it will ring.

InRange by Phillips is another Bluetooth enabled leash system. For $49.95 receive the Bluetooth device, a pouch for the tag, batteries and a pin to release the battery door. Items are tracked via the iPhone/iPad app and can be paired with up to three InRange devices. This device also allows you to still make calls via Bluetooth without any interference.

Update: While it looks like Phillips still offers support for this device, it also looks as though they no longer sell it.

Bikn Bikn, it seems, has unfortunately terminated their RFID cases.

Newer options to satisfy your RFID needs:

Pixie: Just apply the first Pixie Point to the back of your iPhone and the other Points to your most important things to make them quickly discoverable within a 30-50 foot range indoors. Through the magical Pixie Dust Augmented Reality view and the Pixie Pointer distance and direction indicator, Pixie guides you to any item that’s been “Pixified”. It shows you what you can’t see, even if it’s between the books on the shelf, inside a drawer or in the next room. It’s basically “x” marks the spot for items you commonly misplace.

Tile: Tile offers two options for keeping track of your items: Tile Mate and Tile Slim. Tile Mate is compact and easy to attach to anything and goes wherever you go. Small, durable and lightweight, it’s perfect for attaching to keys, luggage, and backpacks. Tile Slim is the world’s thinnest Bluetooth tracker; it’s as thin as two credit cards making it easy to stick, slide, or tuck into tight spots like wallets, purses, passports and more. Both Tiles are water-resistant (to rain, not scuba diving), offer a loud melody when you’ve lost your item, and have batteries that last over a year without charging.

PebbleBee: PebbleBee offers three different choices for preventing lost items: The Finder, The Honey, and The Stone. The Finder is a stainless steel tracker (approx.. 1” in diameter) that can be attached to nearly anything. It also the longest range tracker ever at 200ft. and has a replaceable battery and improved longevity. The Honey is the most affordable option to keep your items from being misplaced. It has a range of up to 150 feet and includes a range finder with helps you find an item if it’s hidden. When you get close, you can turn on the loud speaker, or the built-in LED from your smartphone to find your item quickly. The Stone is a smart “button” that controls your phone and home to save you time. Stone works with IFTT, Nest, Hue, SmartThings, and many other “smart” platforms and it can also automate tasks. To learn more about everything Stone can do check it out on PebbleBee.

Not an exhaustive list

There are many other trackers available, but these are some of the most popular options to suit your needs.

All of these trackers serve the same basic function: to track your possessions and help you insure they do not get lost.Click To Tweet
This seems like something worth investing in if you have a hard time keeping up with your belongings, or travel extensively. Better to have it and never need it, than spend countless hours searching for a single item so you can get out the door.

#LessHideMoreSeek

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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Real Estate Technology

Do you give out your phone number? You may want to rethink…

(TECHNOLOGY) As a real estate agent, its tempting to give out your number to whoever asks for it. But be cautious of what exactly you’re giving out.

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Man giving out phone number using his phone representing addiction.

Friendly reminder: You do not need to share your cell phone number with everyone.

This sounds like a simple statement, but with the abundance of accounts and reliance on technology for pure convenience, most people freely give away their personal numbers without considering the consequences.

An extension of yourself

As the dependency on smartphones has increased, privacy standards have decreased.

Using a phone number to unlock an account or shop online is so common that many people don’t think twice before typing it in.

Even if this nonchalant attitude has never led to anything detrimental, there is always the possibility of your account being hacked. Having your phone number attached to this account will only make everything worse. For example, if a hacker finds their way into a Macy’s database, they can use the phone numbers tied to member accounts to access other information.

By simply knowing your cell phone number, all the accounts associated with it are jeopardized.

Think of how many times you have been asked for your cell phone number. Of course, disregard the interested strangers, family and friends and you’ll find that this sharing still occurs multiple times throughout the week. Email and social media pages may ask for it to verify your account. Retailers may ask for it for marketing purposes.

Bank accounts, rewards programs, and even ordering a pizza requires you to share your number.

Keep it secret, keep it safe

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to prevent hackers from stealing your information.

The first thing is simple, don’t share your phone number with everyone. Just because a customer service representative or online form asks for your number does not mean that it is required. You can deny their request if it is not mandatory. Second, don’t open links sent via text from numbers you do not recognize. Sending these links is a common way hackers use phone numbers to access other information.

You can also have a separate phone number for personal use to limit contact from spammers and unknown callers.

Never be afraid to ask questions when it comes to your privacy. Though freely sharing personal information is the norm these days, it does not mean that you have to participate.

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Real Estate Technology

Rating the quality of your meetings could create more efficient work teams

(TECHNOLOGY) SurveySparrow has a plugin that allows you to rate meetings. It could help you and your team evaluate and improve future meetings.

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We love data. We are in a data-driven world. We like giving our feedback via customer reviews, social media comments, surveys, and Twitter (yes, Bob, everyone knows your flight was delayed). Tell us what the data says. Well, it might be a great time to finally get some data on all those meetings you’ve been having.

Many people are sick of meetings; we sit in a lot of them that then need follow-ups because either we didn’t have an agenda, or we didn’t get through the agenda. There also may be additional meetings because no one really knows what is going on, or people are unable to have a solid plan in place (thanks to the global pandemic) and require more frequent check-ins/status updates.

Perhaps we’d all dread meetings less if they could be improved and justified as a much better use of time. G suite just made available a free plugin, by SurveySparrow, that could possibly help your company improve your meetings:

RateTheMeeting helps you improve meetings by collecting feedback to understand what works and what doesn’t for your teams, divisions, or company. With this data (feedback), it might be possible to stick to agendas and the purpose of the meeting, prevent topics that require a separate discussion and make sure that everyone’s time is well spent. It syncs to your calendar and automatically follows up with attendees to collect feedback after each meeting. You can see how it works on YouTube here.

While this seems like a helpful tool, the biggest hurdle may come from management first. They may not want feedback on meetings if they feel that meetings are necessary and the most valuable way to communicate for their teams. It also might be one more data set that they have to sort and mine.

Next, employees may not want to rate each meeting on top of their already busy schedules. They likely would only want to do this if it would make real change within the meeting culture of the organization. Either way, it might be nice to just offer a thumbs up or thumbs down for each meeting (for funsies?).

It’s always hard to please everyone, so you’ll just have to decide if adding this function is more trouble than it’s worth.

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Real Estate Technology

20 free professional marketing tools to kickstart growth for your business

(TECHNOLOGY) Running a small business is a ton of work and you need all the help you can get. Here are 20 free tools that help make it a little easier.

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digital tools

When running your business, big or small, you’re only as good as what’s in your arsenal. This applies to your ability to be creative and think on your feet, as well as to have tangible tools at your disposal.

Below, we’ve outlined 20 of the top free tools that are designed to help grow your business – let us know in the comments what you love or what you’d add!

  1. Google Analytics – this is a definite need. With the world continuing to grow more and more digital, it’s necessary to know how your business is operating in the online realm. Google Analytics provides data about your small business, including traffic to your site and clicks on links. It gives you an idea of who is visiting and when, allows you to track your goals, and generate audience reports. Google also offers virtual classes that teach you how to master the platform.
  2. Hotjar – want to understand exactly how visitors are using your site without getting lost in the shuffle of numbers and data? Hotjar is where it’s at. You can see a user’s behavior and their exact process of perusing the site. There are also tools like feedback polls that allow your audience to interact with you when using your site.
  3. Canva – this is one of the best visual tools to create graphics for your company, both to print for physical display and to use on social media. The platform is easy-to-use and allows for a myriad of sizing options, backgrounds, and stock images.
  4. ProProfs Help Desk – this is a ticketing system that allows your visitors to contact customer service and start a thread of communication; all while keeping everything ticketed and organized. This also allows for shared inboxes, ticket resolution via chat, and ticket reduction up to 80% with knowledge base.
  5. JungleScout – this is your best friend when it comes to learning to sell on Amazon. Regardless of where you are in your seller journey, this tool will help you maximize your skillset.
  6. Kickstarter – crowdsourcing for your business without giving away the equity. This lets you recruit micro-investors and donors for your new business venture.
  7. MailChimp – This is an all-in-one tool that is necessary for all small business users. According to their website, “Bring your audience data, marketing channels, and insights together so you can reach your goals faster. With Mailchimp, you can promote your business across email, social, landing pages, shoppable landing pages, postcards, and more — all from a single platform.”
  8. Shopify – this platform has helped over one million businesses around the world and is continuing to help small businesses thrive. Shopify allows users to create and design an eCommerce website that is backed by helpful tools that help discover new customers, drive sales, and manage your business’s day-to-day operations.
  9. Buffer – provides simple social media tools that receive authentic engagement. Tell the story of your brand while growing your audience. The platform includes publishing, analytics, and engagement.
  10. Qualaroo – this is a customer and user feedback software that states its value as ten times higher than email surveys. It comes with what you need for useful feedback, including AI-powered analytics and reports.
  11. Zapier – a platform to connect your apps and automate workflow. Zapier moves information automatically between your web applications, allowing for more focus on the most important work.
  12. Doodle – a scheduling platform that allows meetings to be booked faster and smarter. No more need for an hour of back-and-forth emailing in order to nail down a meeting time.
  13. Docracy – a home for contracts and other legal documents, created by the community that uses them. The idea is to make these common documents easily available for everyone.
  14. Slack – the ideal way to communicate with your team and keep everyone on the same page at all times. This is a central communication hub where you and your team will stay in the loop, ask questions, and share updates.
  15. GoDaddy Website Builder – this is an extremely user-friendly tool that allows you to build websites that looks as though you paid someone hundreds to build it for you. There are many options for customization, and they have the tools that help your site look great on both desktop and mobile.
  16. ToDoIst – For many, it’s impossible to stay organized without the use of a to-do list. With this tool, you (and your team!) can stay organized with the most important tasks and priorities.
  17. Grammarly – When writing copy for your business’s brand, it is important to have as many eyes read through it as possible for any errors. Grammarly is a tool where you can plug your copy in and it will automatically find and highlight any grammar errors or typos. You can never be too careful!
  18. AdobeSign – Formerly known as EchoSign, this tool allows for paperless signatures that help make signing contracts and agreements as easy as the swipe of a finger.
  19. Sumo – a platform filled with tools to help you grow your website. It’s a free email capturing tool that takes only seconds to sign up.
  20. Pixabay – We don’t always have the time or the money to take photos to go along with our website copy and social media posts. Pixabay helps alleviate that need with free stock images that will help your message pop.

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