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What the future of smart homes has in store

(TECH NEWS) As IoT pieces begin clicking into place, and as we begin to automate our homes, the future of full integration is definitely worth watching. What are the experts predicting about smart homes?



smart homes devices

Cool tech, gadgety gizmos

Chris McGugan, General Manager and VP of Innovation at Kenmore, spoke at the Smart Home Summit about the future of the Internet of Things and what our homes will look like in five years.

Smart home technology falls into two camps. Products that improve the way we interact with our home, and products that are cool. Basically, gadgets that make us feel more secure and gadgets that make it easier to stay on the couch and burn through Netflix episodes without having to get up to switch off the lights or futz with the thermostat.

What consumers want in smart homes

“Most consumers are looking for a gadget today.” McGugan said in a video interview for IoT world news. “[Most folks] are looking for home automation, home security or home monitoring.”

There’s nothing wrong with these upgrades (and here’s a recent article on how to make your home smart on a budget) and they certainly add charisma to any residence. But what McGugan and Kenmore are imagining is a more subtle home integration that focuses more on what we need, rather than the juicy gadgets that we overtly want.

A grander vision

McGugan hopes he can “bring a greater peace of mind to owning a large [appliance] if we change the way consumers interact with them and the way they are serviced and maintained.” Take your washer and dryer, for example: wouldn’t you love a notification on your smart phone when it’s time to change the load? What if you accidentally left your freezer door open? Wouldn’t you rather it send you an e-mail before wasting hours of energy?

These are not glamorous upgrades, and they’re certainly slower innovations since it can be many years before we replace our appliances, but technology like this will have a profound effect on the smart homes of our future. Soon, you likely won’t be able to buy an appliance without integrated features.

Soon, you likely won’t be able to buy an appliance without integrated features.Click To Tweet

Innovation over time, across industry

“If you had asked someone 15 years ago if they thought a home wifi router or a broadband connection was essential, you may have had a very different answer than what you would get today,” McGugan went on. Smart home tech is the same way.

There was a time when it seemed perfectly reasonable to expect people to go to the library to browse the web, or pay a dollar every time they wanted to access the internet from a T9 phone, but now internet access has become a human right – and we expect everywhere we go to not only provide it, but provide it for free.

By the same extension, smart home technology could easily bridge the gap to business use as well.

Imagine rather than waiting in line at your local coffee shop, you could queue on your phone. What if we could summon waiters, order refills, or request an employee to look in the warehouse for an item that is inexplicably not on the shelves, all on our personal devices?

This little computer we carry around in our pockets is capable of so much more than just smart home automation, and I see business IoT integration following closely behind smart home innovations.

Putting the pieces together

McGugan is right when he ended his talk by saying that, “It’s going to come down to the interface we provide for these devices to help consumers see their real value. I would love to say that we’re going to see smart homes as essential, but I think we still have some room to grow.” Interface is key for consumers to jump on the bandwagon.

We have to see inherent value in these tools and not just expensive gimmicks.Click To Tweet

That will easily come as consumers see the usefulness in knowing if their hot water heater is leaking or if their dryer exhaust is hotter than usual. One day we may see serious costs associated with not having integrated appliances, like severe water damage or dryer vent fires.

As IoT pieces begin clicking into place, and as we begin to automate our homes, the future of full integration is definitely worth watching. Maybe in fifteen years home automation will be seen as essential for all of us.


C. L. Brenton is a staff writer at The American Genius. She loves writing about all things, she’s even won some contests doing it! For everything C. L. check out her website

Real Estate Technology

Google Nest: A sneak peek of the new and improved version

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) The secretive Google Nest speaker has been leaked. It looks fantastic and sleek–but will it sound better?



Google Nest

There’s no denying that Google Nest has done a lot to make the modern smart home accessible and easy to set up, but the common consensus remains that the system doesn’t quite meet the audio demands of many users. Thanks to leaked photos of a new Google speaker, it seems that those demands are to be addressed.

The photos originated from a regulatory establishment in Japan, and while there isn’t anything to see in the way of press from Google as of now, it’s clear that the device is the upcoming Nest speaker associated with Google’s smart home line.

Google Nest–an amalgam of the aptly named Nest and Google Home–is a series of smart devices poised to turn any house into a fully functioning smart home. While the Google Home setup includes a hub that includes built-in speakers to report various metrics and information depending on your preferences, the actual sound fidelity was, reportedly, somewhat lacking.

And, even though the Nest Mini improved upon Google Home’s audio flaws, it still left something to be desired–a space that, ideally, the Nest speaker will fill.

9 to 5 Google also points out that the sound disparity between different iterations of the Nest Mini shows vast improvement in terms of audio output and overall quality, so it seems appropriate to assume that the Nest speaker–with larger dimensions and more advanced architecture than the the most recent Nest Mini–will vastly outshine Google’s audio solutions thus far.

As for the speaker itself, Google seems to have grown away from both the conical Google Home device and the Google Home hub in favor of an oval, cloth-covered speaker that seems reminiscent of the Nest Mini’s overall presentation. There are a couple of design updates, too–the mute button is now a switch, and there’s a lot more rubber on this rendition of the speaker.

Users will be able to use a standard wall outlet to power the speaker, a design choice that may raise some questions since it detracts from the otherwise sleek presentation.

Google has yet to list the speaker on its website, but it’s worth noting that the Google Home, formerly listed alongside the Nest Mini, is no longer available. If you have a smart home endowed with Google products and you’re looking to upgrade, keep an eye out for the Nest speaker in the coming months.

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Real Estate Technology

Instagram now allows you to pin comments

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) Instagram introduces pinned comments; with this feature comes possibility for positivity in an overwhelmingly negative space.



instagram pins

Bad press is forthcoming and constant in any industry, and social media often bears the brunt of such negativity. Perhaps that’s why Instagram, following in YouTube’s footsteps, now offers the option to pin comments under posts.

Pinning a comment typically refers to placing said comment at the very top of the comment section (say “comment” one more time, I dare you). However, Instagram comment-pinning doesn’t just apply to the comment section itself: Any pinned comments will appear directly under the post when scrolling, negating the need to open the thread at all.

This is incredibly handy for anything from highlighting positive user reviews to calling out a voice that mimics or adds to the message you hoped to send with your initial post. In fact, the applications here are virtually endless; Lifehacker even suggests using the pin feature to update followers on winners of virtual give-aways or other competitions, for example.

To pin a comment, you’ll need to use the Instagram mobile app on Android or iPhone. Once at the comment you want to pin, you can swipe from right to left over the comment and then tap the thumbtack icon that appears. Keep in mind that you can’t pin a comment from your feed–you’ll have to open the comments section by tapping the top comment before you can adjust anything.

Removing a pinned comment is as simple as swiping left and then tapping the pin again.
You can’t use the Instagram website to pin comments, but that shouldn’t come as a huge surprise given Instagram’s limited functionality on desktop. Both iOS and Android users should be able to access the pin feature immediately, but if you find your Instagram app doesn’t allow it, try updating and restarting. Instagram is set to roll the feature out universally, so you shouldn’t have to wait.

Being able to call attention to community voices is especially important in 2020, and Instagram’s implementation of this feature couldn’t be more timely. It’s clear that there are substantial marketing and outreach implications for pinned comments, but this is also a chance for users to highlight culturally significant standpoints or alternative positions where appropriate. As people begin engaging with this feature in earnest, we can only hope to see it used in such a capacity.

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Real Estate Technology

Send personalized, automated texts to your customers with Respond Flow

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) Respond Flow is the new “Mailchimp of SMS”, allowing you to easily automate personalized text conversations with your customers.



CRM Respond Flow

CRM solutions in 2020 are all over the place, but one factor among them has not changed: the engagement aspect. This is something that Respond Flow, an SMS-based CRM tool, hopes to address by helping you craft realistic, convenient messages to make your customers feel valued.

Respond Flow is, self-admittedly, the “MailChimp of SMS”. This means that they cover everything from your location-based phone number to your marketing resources and strategies, all of which are available from an easy-to-use dashboard.

It’s a lofty comparison to be sure, but while Respond Flow doesn’t incorporate the web-hosting aspect of customer management that one finds in MailChimp, it more than makes up for that discrepancy through customer engagement, thereby earning its place in the CRM line-up on principle.

Respond Flow also leans into the personalized communication style that many brands have embraced in the last few years. Perhaps one of the most obnoxious aspects of any automated communique is that feeling of being just another number on a list; this is something the company is clearly aware of.

Instead of making customers feel like cash resources, Respond Flow allows you to reach out to or engage with customers at all hours–a process for which you can control the parameters from your Respond Flow dashboard. The best part of this system is that Respond Flow allows you to create lists of customers that, based on your interactions with them, enables custom content depending on those customers’ preferences.

Respond Flow also boasts a bevy of other features that make your life substantially easier. These include everything from social media integration and mobile app support–you know, the things you expect in 2020–to the aforementioned list feature and some customization options to help customers feel like you’re actually talking to them one-on-one. Keyword integration and formulaic messages based on customer responses are, of course, part of the deal as well.

Similarly, you can set up different location-appropriate numbers for each of your brick-and-mortar locations that use Respond Flow, thus affording more credibility to your communications with local customers. It’s a subtle touch that is sure to save you countless hours, headaches, and cash along the way.

Currently, Respond Flow offers a two-week free trial. If you’re interested in checking out a new CRM solution, consider giving this one a shot.

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