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The real reasons we’re all obsessed with spy machines (I mean 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.

Brittany is a Staff Writer for The American Genius with a Master's in Media Studies under her belt. When she's not writing or analyzing the educational potential of video games, she's probably baking.

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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Real Estate Technology

Are Millennials going to buy into 3D printed hotels?

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) 3D printed anything became a giant attention getter a couple years ago, but could the biggest winners be odd tourist attractions?

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3D printed star

If you were ever wondering what the next marketing to the millennials ploy would be, well wonder no more! It’s 3D printed hotels.

Habitas is the company that “…is a global hospitality group created by a diverse community of people seeking human connection, authentic experiences, and a better future. We measure success not by the number of stars given, but the number of smiles received, hearts warmed, minds opened, and friends made.

If that isn’t trying to appeal to the millennial crowd with buzz phrases then I don’t know what is. Even their descriptions of the “experiences” they offer are filled with buzz word salad. I’ll get to those later

I’m all for 3D printed products, if there is a cheaper, more flexible, creative way to produce things you need, then do it! I can count dozens of times I would love to just print out some tool I don’t want to go buy or some lego piece I swear was just in my hand.

3D printed homes are an amazing feat, because of their low cost, and quick build times. This technology could help millions buy a home with all the features they want for less than the price of a car.

It only makes sense that hotel chains, or new hotel companies would want to join in this revolutionary tech. A company could build a hotel cheaper, quicker, and more remotely. Habitas is pushing hard on this last point.

Habitas has 3D printed hotels in Africa, 2 in Mexico with one on the way, and in Bhutan. These places were chosen to bring customers out of their normal habitat into places unknown, just like their statement claims.

Their “rooms” look pretty sparse and open, literally open. Many don’t seem to have walls or windows, so they look like glorified tents, but again without walls. That would put me firmly outside my comfort zone, which might be the point.

Habitas open room

The $200-$400/night price on the other hand has me really wondering what the company is thinking. I assume the cost is because they offer a dive into the deep end of culture, but I see a company who wants to profit from the fyre festival crowd.

Their locations are some of the hottest places on earth, and there is not an AC to be seen in their “rooms”. But hey maybe not everyone wants to be comfortable when they sleep.

The rooms aren’t everything with this kind of company, they also have amazing “experiences” to offer. Things like a 3 day Reintegration which sounds amazing.

If perception is reality, we are masters of design. Our lives are our greatest masterpiece. With fervent desire and child-like wonder, we bring fantasies to life, creating realities far better than our dreams. Together, we share these worlds with one another, traversing borders in search of adventure. When we open our eyes, under starlit skies and dancing candlelight, we are home.

We welcome you to Reintegration, our immersive three-day wellness gathering at our home in Tulum. Through breath work and yoga, we’ll reconnect to the creator in all of us. Tantalizing concerts, exotic ingredients and local escapes await us. This is an open call to discover ourselves both in conversation and silence, travel and stillness.

Only when we return to the source of our power can we embrace what lies ahead.

What? Yoga, food, and music. Ok, well sure that sounds good I guess. How much for that light experience?

“Starting from $2,015”

My wallet just died, so did my bank account, and I can’t eat this week. I’ve been on a week long cruise with all food included, and went to multiple beaches in different countries for half that.

I’m a realist, and that first paragraph in the description is nonsense. Just because we can perceive doesn’t necessitate that we can create. This Reintegration doesn’t walk you through creating anything, it’s yoga and eating. So how can you share something you haven’t created with someone else who also hasn’t created anything? I don’t know about anyone else but creativity is not the source of my power, mine is stress.

This description stressed me out enough to write this story, so I guess it’s working. At least I didn’t pay $2,000 for the pleasure though.

Regardless of the wording, the cost, and the no walls (I’m comfortable in my box), this may be a great experience for those who can afford it, and are looking for vague spiritual guidance. Plus the rooms do look aesthetically pleasing regardless of missing amenities

But for the vast majority of millennials who I know can’t afford this, and recognize this kind of pandering to pry food money out of our pockets, we don’t need this.

We need the 3D printing technology to focus on houses that we can afford. So please 3D print something more than a roof to do yoga under.

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Real Estate Technology

India now buys more smartphones than the United States

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) Considering it makes up just over 1/7th of the world population, it’s kind of surprising that India just surpassed America in sales of smartphones.

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India buys more smartphones

For the first time, smartphone sales in India have surpassed United States sales. According to Counterpoint Research, India is now the second-largest smartphone market worldwide. About 158 million smartphones were shipped to India in 2019.

China had already taken the lead over the United States in 2013. The size of smartphone markets now reflects the population rankings of the three countries. China has almost one-and-a-half billion citizens, followed closely by India. The United States, the third most populous country, has a population of just over 300 million – a fraction of the populations in China and India.

The upsurge in smartphone sales In India can mostly be attributed to Chinese companies promoting hard and hitting the sweet spot when it comes to price. Chinese brands made up 60 percent of smartphone sales in India in 2018, which shot up to 72 percent last year. Chinese brand Xiaomi leads sales in India; Vivo, Asus, OnePlus, and Realme are all growing as well.

Much of the increase has come from smartphone users upgrading to their second or third phone. E-commerce has also increased, with online sales becoming the primary way that people in India buy smartphones.

Companies that we’re more familiar with here in the United States, such as Apple and Samsung, trail behind Chinese companies, although Apple saw growth last year after cutting the price on its iPhone XR and rolling out iPhone 11 at a lower price point than the XR. These price cuts were made possible because so much of Apple’s manufacturing takes place in India. Samsung, on the other hand, declined 5 percent last year.

With India looming large as a major smartphone market, manufacturers worldwide will be shifting their marketing focus and designing features with Indian users in mind. Last year, Samsung announced that it was designing phones targeted toward “Indian millennial consumers.” It remains to be seen whether Samsung will catch up to Chinese companies.

Stiff competition in the market means better features at a lower price for Indian buyers. According to Counterpoint, Chinese companies have “aggressively introduced many flagship-grade features and capabilities to capture demand.” Tarun Pathak, associate director of Counterpoint Research, expects that demand for smartphones in India will grow as a result of “diffusion of key smartphone features to the entry-level price tier as a result of hyper-competition among multiple players.” In other words, because so many companies are competing for the Indian market, they’ll have to offer better phones at a lower price.

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