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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

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.

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Real Estate Technology

National accelerator for brands seeking to tap into real estate

(REAL ESTATE TECH) Whether your company is real estate tech or looking to spin into real estate or get a gajillion Realtors on board, this program is for you.

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If you own a technology startup or product that would work wonders for Realtors and the real estate market, applying for the 2018 NAR REach program could be your ticket to the fast track of success.

Second Century Ventures, the investment arm of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), is now accepting applications for its 2018 NAR REach accelerator program. This program is designed to accelerate the growth of early-to-mid-stage companies by giving them access to NAR’s industry experts, educational resources and relationship building blocks that can help companies achieve success in the real estate market and beyond.

Think of it as an intensive, real estate market crash-course with countless opportunities to grow your business and investor network. The more you know, the more you can grow.

Companies selected for the NAR REach program will be connected with more than 350 real estate and technology leaders from major brokerages, brands, companies, and venture capitalists. You’ll be able to really connect with these individuals, too. On average, REach participants will meet with more than 50 advisors for one-on-one mentor sessions over the course of the program.

REach companies will learn how to navigate the massive real estate industry all while being supported by the NAR, which is a $4.5 billion brand. And, if your company is selected for this program, you’ll have access to the NAR’s Insight Panel, a large network of industry professionals who can give you feedback on different aspects of your business, such as user experience and product pricing. If your company is just starting out, such constructive feedback can be crucial for significant growth.

Sounds pretty sweet, right? There’s evidence the accelerator program works, too.

Overall, REach companies have experienced revenue, customer, and/or user growth rates from 50 percent to more than 5,000 percent. They were also able to form important partnerships with major companies such as Coldwell Banker, Century 21, and Google. Need another example? In April, Guard Llama, a 2015 REach program safety company, received a $100,000 real estate investment from industry tycoon Barbara Corcoran and license to use her image on their product.

For its 2018 REach class, they are seeking seven companies with stable business models, actionable business plans, and the potential to make waves of positive change in the real estate space. Applications will be accepted through January 31, 2018 via the NAR REach website. The companies that make the cut will be announced in February 2018, and the nine-month program will begin at the end of March.

Here’s a bit more about who should apply.

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Real Estate Technology

Amazon Alexa app for real estate could fill your lead pipeline

(REAL ESTATE TECH) A new app has been developed for Amazon Alexa to connect home buyers and real estate professionals, check it out.

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Voice interaction is truly the wave of the future. Amazon Alexa leads the way. It’s reported that Amazon will be announcing Alexa for Business Platform, which takes voice into the workplace.

Enterprises can use Alexa to manage temperature and lights and to get information, but other skills and apps will be available to help with calendar management, ordering supplies and much, much more. Alexa has the capability to integrate with business to be a voice-activated virtual assistant.

And artificial intelligence via voice interaction with Alexa is now entering the real estate market.

Agent NEO is an Alexa app designed for the real estate industry. This app helps users look for homes to buy, check real estate information and find a real estate agent.

Agents who are registered with the app can easily connect with buyers and sellers and stay in touch with current and past clients through the app. Users can also get information about their home’s value through the app.

How it works:

  • Users ask Alexa to help them find houses to buy. Alexa narrows down the search by locality, budget, size of house and other preferences. Users can even access pre-approval for loans.
  • Alexa matches users to a real estate agent in the area where the user is looking to buy or sell.
  • Alexa sends the information to the agent about the potential client, including their search details. The user gets an email with your contact information, a bio and an intro from you.
  • The app can book showings for users, based on their individual preferences.

Agents can join by going to the Agent NEO website. Although the technology is still fairly new, as more people invest in voice-activated interfaces, it could be a great way to generate leads for your company.

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Real Estate Technology

Silly Chrome extension blocks tweets over 140 characters

(SOCIAL MEDIA) When Twitter began testing out longer tweets, many people lost their minds. A new extension stops the madness, stat!

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Back in September, Twitter, known for forcing users to be succinct, made a controversial move when the social media platform decided to double its character limit from 140 to 280.

Twitter is testing out the concept on a handful of seemingly randomly selected accounts. According to product manager Aliza Rosen, Twitter “will be collecting data and gathering feedback,” and may eventually expand the character limit for all users.

Rosen and other execs at Twitter seemed to anticipate a backlash. Said Rosen in a blog post, “We understand since many of you have been Tweeting for years, there may be an emotional attachment to 140 characters – we felt it, too. But we tried this, saw the power of what it will do, and fell in love with the new, still brief, constraint.”

Unfortunately for Twitter, users aren’t feeling the love.

The change has inspired much sarcasm and wrath, and some have even accused Twitter of using the character limit expansion as a distraction from more pressing issues, such as curbing online harassment and hate speech, or combating bot networks. Heather Kelly tweeted, “Women on Twitter excited death threats can now be twice as long.”

While some have used the 280 character limit in positive ways, others have proved just how pointless and annoying an extra-long tweet can be. MGM tweeted a 280 character roar, while Checkers & Rally’s tweeted 280 cheeseburger emojis.

Some developers at Slate Magazine think the much-hated 280 character expansion “is a real mess,” and have decided to be proactive about it.

They’ve created an extension for Chrome that limits your tweets back to the original 140 characters, while also cutting off tweets longer than 140 characters in your feed. The extension is simply called “140.”

They admit that they “whipped it up in one night,” that Twitter may find a workaround for their extension, and that there are some problems with URLs and pasting text.

However, they hope that, at least for now, the extension will create “a much chiller experience” on Twitter. So if you really can’t stand to read more than 140 characters, this may be your best option to “make Twitter great again.”

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