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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?

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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.

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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.

#SmartFuture

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

New tool translates your phone calls into 29 languages – LIVE

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) There’s no need for a language to language dictionary any longer. A lingvanex tool allows for real-time translation on phone calls in different languages.

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lingvanex translates in real time

If you’ve read a few things that I’ve written on here, you know that I often marvel at how far remote work has come. The fact that I write this as my dog sits beside me is no small feat.

What teams can accomplish in a virtual setting is pretty impressive, and tools like Slack and Trello are very helpful in this regard. However, remote workers still utilize the tried and true phone call as it remains a tool of efficiency.

This can be especially helpful if you’re working with team members or clients in other countries when a translator may need to be involved. This concept was the inspiration behind the Lingvanex Phone Call Translator.

The new tool translates voice calls into 29 different languages in real time. Working on both mobile phones and landlines, users can call countries all around the world (150 countries in total are available through the app).

This option is cheaper than roaming calls, starting at 18 cents per minute through use of VoIP. The conversation is then transcribed in real time with the details of the conversation being available only to the user, as Lingvanex does not store conversation data.

“We are happy to represent you the Phone Call Translator – a real-time voice translator, which was created to help in solving questions in travel situations and urgent business problems with foreigners or help in communicating with friends abroad,” says Lingvanex. “You can speak your native language when you call through the app. Your partner and you will hear the translation of both callers during the call, the original speech and translation will also be duplicated on the phone screen.”

The app works in a few simple steps: first, download to your device (works on both Android and iOS). Next, register and create application account – during this, you’ll select your default language. Then, you will select the language of the person you are calling. Make the call by dialing the phone number with the country code. Finally, chat it up walkie-talkie style.

Say what you need to say, then Phone Call Translator takes your words and transcribes them for the person on the other end. This could be very helpful as it gives you an extra moment to think about what to say next!

Do you think this will be helpful for you? Let us know below!

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Real Estate Technology

Should digital assistants have empathy? Big investors say yes

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) Bonding with your digital assistant might be more likely than you expect with ElliQ. The rising numbers of AI assistants have created unique interactions.

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ElliQ assistant

It sounds crazy to think that you could form an actual bond with something like Siri or Alexa, but actually, humans are pretty dang good at forming emotional connections to machines. For instance, a Canadian company threw an entire retirement party for five mail delivery bots. People will use Roombas as a substitute for companionship, not unlike a cat or dog. Humans just seem to enjoy connection – even if it’s with a lifeless robot.

Intuition Robotics is taking this desire for emotional connection a step further by working to create digital assistants that can more easily bond with their human companions. At the moment, their biggest product is ElliQ, a robotic digital assistant designed to bond with eldery users. In fact, according to Intuition Robotics, their average demographic falls between ages 78 – 97.

And ElliQ seems to be doing its job. The company reports that customers interact with ElliQ regularly throughout the day, even holding conversations with the machine, and are more likely to listen to ElliQ’s suggestions, which often include proactive behavior like getting outdoors or eating more vegetables.

By working to create a more empathetic and emotional digital AI, Intuition Robotics has started to discover a whole world of new possibilities. And they’re just getting started, having recently raised another $36 million to continue research.

One of their plans? Combining these empathetic digital assistants with the automotive industry.

Imagine an assistant that could suggest you pull over when it senses you’re getting drowsy, or provide something to talk to during longer drives. Plus, unlike ElliQ, which stays put while you move around, you and the assistant will be together in a car, making it easier for the AI to learn your preferences and habits.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg for Intuition Robotics, which has recently majorly expanded its workforce. A digital assistant that can provide a better emotional connection to humans has a world of possible applications, from nursing homes to elementary schools.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of reasons to be worried about a more empathetic AI – the marketing capabilities alone are something I’m side-eyeing. That said, humans have been befriending vacuum cleaners and we’ve turned out alright, so for now, let’s focus on the positive possibilities that could come with tech from companies like Intuition Robotics.

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Real Estate Technology

Moving just got a lot easier with this NAR invested app

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) Worried about moving? There’s an app for that, updater, and NAR has taken notice. They want to help their customers from beginning to end.

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updater app

Moving isn’t exactly a walk in the park. There’s coordinating movers, finding boxes, cancelling services, changing your mailing address on, well, everything, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg! With so much to do, it’s easy to get overwhelmed but good news: turns out, there’s an app for that. And it’s promising enough that the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) have invested in it.

The app in question is Updater, which serves as a one-stop shop for everything you’d need for a move. Not only can the app help you craft your moving “to-do” list, but with its connection to all sorts of businesses involved in the moving process (from moving truck companies to cable services) you can keep all your prep in one place. Essentially, Updater is designed to make moving as stress-free as possible.

Updater’s current successes have drawn Second Century Ventures, the venture capital section of NAR, to invest in Updater. Which is cool, but why would a company focused on realtors want to help a company that focuses on what happens after a realtor has done their job?

“Updater’s platform delivers unique value to Realtors®, property managers and consumers alike,” said Mark Birschbach, senior VP of Strategic Business at NAR, “This investment is well aligned with SCV’s mission to support and advance technologies throughout the entire real estate ecosystem.”

Plus, Updater is a great tool for realtors to have in their back pocket. If a client seems nervous about moving or overwhelmed, Updater is a great recommendation. Not only does it help the mover, but it shows that the realtor cares about their client’s well-being, even after the deed is signed.

So, what’s next for Updater? Growth. Recently, Updater acquired Bridgevine, a company that works with home subscription services like cable and internet. This merger will allow Updater to offer more options to users while also increasing their reach. This is the first in what will likely be many growth initiatives for Updater.

David Greenberg, founder and CEO of Updater, is also looking forward to the partnership with NAR. “We’re excited to deepen our great relationship with SCV and NAR by investing heavily in the real estate industry and by enabling Realtors® and property managers to deliver an unrivaled moving experience.”

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