Connect with us

Real Estate Technology

RFID technology’s resurgence and why you need it

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



smartphone tech device rfid

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.

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.


Senior Staff Writer at The Real Daily, Jennifer Walpole holds a Master of English from the University of Oklahoma. She has long been a dedicated business and technology writer, and she holds real estate close to her heart, as she comes from a family of brokers.

Continue Reading

Real Estate Technology

Smart homes spy on you, here’s how to spy back

(TECHNOLOGY) Wow surprise, smart homes spy on you constantly. Here’s why it matters, and how to spy back.



smart homes

We’ve long talked about the risks and rewards of technology, especially IoT devices in the home. For every cool gadget, there’s a chance your information will get hacked or tracked.

Last year, Congress thought it would be fun to give Internet Service Providers (ISPs) power to spy on customer internet usage data and sell it. Which means your ISP can see all the data from your smart devices and profit from selling you out to third parties.

Some folks at Gizmodo decided to conduct an experiment to see how much data can be tracked from smart homes.

Back in December, Gizmodo senior reporter Kashmir Hill set up just about every smart device imaginable in her apartment including an Amazon Echo, smart TV, smart lights, toothbrushes, baby monitor, and even a mattress.

Hill’s colleague Surya Mattu, Gizmodo data reporter, configured a router to track the device’s network activity and give the duo the same view as Hill’s ISP.

They found that since the router’s installation in early December 2017, there was not a single day without activity from the router.

At least once a day, at least one of the smart devices sent data packets to the ISP, manufacturer, or third parties. If Hill told the living room to turn on the lights, Phillips got alerted. If the family watched something on Hulu, the smart TV sent information to data brokers.

Every action could be (and in most cases was) tracked and recorded, creating a vast data set about Hill’s daily routines and schedules.

Routine tracking may seem mundane since right now most of the data isn’t being used, just monitored and recorded. However, this data may have more impact in the future.

We already have car insurance companies that offer discounts for safe driving if you use their driving monitors. Cybersecurity expert David Choffnes points out we’re not too far from a world where smart toothbrushes may connect to dental insurance rates and discounts. We’ve explored how smart watches and even browser history could impact your health insurance rates and insurability. Right now it’s all theoretical, but the bones are there to create a tech-inspired Frankenstein.

Plus, it’s inherently creepy to think that an ISP could deduce your family’s schedule based on use of smart devices.

So how can you spy back to see what kind of data is being reported?

Well, for starters you’ll need to have some computer knowledge. Or a pal who is willing to help you out in your endeavor to be a smart home spy.

For the Gizmodo experiment, Mattu built a customized router using a Raspberry Pi 3, which is a tiny computer you can custom program. If you want to replicate their test, these run around $35 for a single board.

Fortunately, the Raspberry Pi 3 comes with built in wifi hardware so it should be fairly easy to configure it as a router if you already know how to use one.

Once connected to the internet and set up as a wifi router, you’ll add the script to monitor network traffic. For this part, you need an understanding of Git and Github.

Next, set up a server so you can store traffic. Mattu and Hill used Amazon Web Services, but you can use your own server if you want. They also crafted a front-end interface to analyze the data.

Note the times when you connect and use the devices for easier analysis. If you want more details about setting up your very own smart home data traffic monitoring router, check out their article.

Some of the information collected from the devices may seem trivial. After all, what does it really matter if Philips knows what time you get up in the morning? Hill noted the data being sent is “basic, boring, information, but revealing information about how we live our life.”

This data could start to matter if companies and ISPs use your information control how you use their devices and how products are sold to you.

TV watching data is already being sold to data brokers. It’s just a matter of time before your sleep score from a smart mattress gets reported to your health insurance to determine coverage or something equally Big Brother-like.

Smart homes are predicted to be a $27 billion market by 2021, with an unprecedented number of new devices in our homes. Before rushing out to get the latest smart device, make sure you’re fully aware of what data you may be inadvertently sharing with companies.

Check out different products’ privacy policies before buying to make sure you’re cool with what information the device will be sending. And if you don’t want your ISP to know how often you make lattes, maybe opt for a coffee maker that isn’t wifi-enabled.

Continue Reading

Real Estate Technology

New startup makes rent count toward tenants’ credit

(REAL ESTATE TECH) This startup gives property owners an advantage while improving the renter economy and making rent count toward credit.



keyo tenant credit

Although property management tools for landlords are well established (think Yardi or RealPage), a new startup is taking a residential approach to property management. Keyo offers renters a seamless way to engage with tenants to provide rent payments, maintenance requests, and building announcements. Before the lease is signed, Keyo can handle tenant applications, free background checks, and digital contract management.

Keyo is renter focused, from the marketing (encouraging tenants to push for it) to the focus on appealing to the new modern renter. From the ability to set up “Scouts” who show units for you (and make money on the side to show the unit and expedite the process), to the fact that renters could apply for an apartment and never pay a single application fee for multiple units – which is also a cost that you the landlord doesn’t have to pass onto them.

The vision is to make the renting economy more accessible, friendlier, and less complicated for tenants.

The best feature by far?

Rent payments made through Keyo are reported to credit bureaus Equifax and TransUnion– which rewards tenants by improving their credit.

(FYI: Renters have less opportunity to improve their credit unlike many mortgage holders.)

Keyo also allows ACH payments for rent – (and as a millennial who resents checks, this is AWESOME), helping individuals pay their rent on time. Maintenance requests are easy and transparent as well.

Keyo makes its money from landlords who pay it to help them fill units, and it provides some key marketing features, including search optimization, analytics on marketing, and all those paperwork management (which means you don’t’ have to pass that cost along to the tenant, which can make investment property owners more competitive). The pricing works out to $5.00 monthly per unit, and each new tenant that is delivered by Keyo costs the landlord one month’s rent. This could be less expensive than the cost of a broker’s standard charge in your region.

Keyo is focused primarily on Brooklyn, but is looking to expand to larger markets. The true test of its quality will be how it translates outside of the wild west of NYC. While being feature-packed, compared to some property management systems like Yardi, this seems a fair bit sparse, but likely is lower overhead.

This is a modern, simple, resident driven platform that could help investment property owners to be more competitive and improve the renter economy.

Continue Reading

Real Estate Technology

No tech skills needed to build lead gen chatbots in under 5 minutes

(TECH NEWS) Create your very own AI chatbots with this awesome new free to start service, no tech knowledge required. Warning: It’s kind of fun and can lead to shenanigans.



landbot chatbot

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is on the rise and innovating quickly. Chatbots featuring AI are becoming increasingly prominent on company websites for more cost-effective, 24/7 customer support and lead generation.

You don’t need to be tech savvy to set up Landbot’s new easy-to-use AI chatbot builder. As long as you have a basic grasp of how to use a computer and the internet, Landbot has you covered.

Landbot offers users a platform to create customized chatbots for customer support, lead generation, and analytics tracking. It launched eight months ago on Product Hunt, earning over 1,700 upvotes and ranked in the Top 200 Products of all time.

Their homepage features a friendly chatbot happy to answer all of your questions. The chatbot also serves as an example of what your very own chatbot could look like if you sign up.

Signing up is as easy as briefly chatting with the bot, providing your name, company or project title, and email address. Lucky you, the sandbox version is not only super user-friendly, but also free to use.

And trust me, the two hours I spent playing around with it are testament to how fun and easy it is to build a chatbot.

No AI, coding, or chatbot knowledge are required to use Landbot 1.0. Simply follow along with the tutorial, learning how to drag, drop, and connect blocks to create conversational interfaces.

Begin with the start message, which is the first thing customers will see. From here, you can create new blocks to build flows. Each block functions as either a question or a message.

Question blocks can have any number of answer types, including pre-set buttons, free text fields, or specific information like asking for contact info.

In the simple message blocks, you can add links, photos, YouTube videos, or custom HTML. Everything is laid out on a grid and connected by dragging an arrow from one block to the next.

Blocks can loop back to previous ones, creating a customizable loop. For bonus fun, you can test out a preview version of your bot to make sure you connected everything correctly.

Once you’ve got your basic conversation flow laid out, customize your bot’s appearance by editing a template or creating a design scheme from scratch. Background, fonts, and color can all be edited to personalize your bot.

Special features include app integration, where you can get Slack notifications when someone using the bot needs help. Automated emails can be sent to qualified leads, ensuring a human on your team follows up with the customer.

Manage leads with access to a table of details, exportable as a .CSV file for record keeping. Analytics are available showing user metrics, flow analytics, and if you incorporated surveys, then collected results.

While Sandbox is free to use, some of the more advanced features are only available if you throw down for a monthly subscription. Landbot offers three pay-to-play options, starting at €20 /month (around $25 USD) for the Starter plan.

Play around with Landbot’s platform and craft yourself a neat new chatbot pal, pal!

Continue Reading

Emerging Stories

Get The Real Daily
in your inbox

subscribe and get news and EXCLUSIVE content to your email inbox