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Ways to squeeze out more smartness from a smart home

(TECH NEWS) Smart devices are a godsend for the busy, those that can’t be bothered, and the curious, but it’s important to be smart about what you’re signing up for.

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Getting things under control

Smart Homes and Wi-Fi-connected devices have brought us a number of benefits. A fully connected house can be controlled from a smart phone, and personally, I love the ambiance of my Philips Hue lights. As homeowners, renters, or landlords, controlling energy costs is a big focus.

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Does having a lot of connected devices draw more energy? Are we making our carbon foot print worse? Perhaps surprisingly, a lot of research suggest that smart homes and connected devices can do a lot to make us MORE efficient.

Almost everything can be “Smart” nowadays – thermostats, water heaters, meters, plugs, lighting, irrigation, ovens, even crock pots (for us geeky lazy chefs). The “Internet of Things” that we create in our home is constantly growing. There are a couple of cool ways that smart devices can impact our power bill:

You hold all of the power

Smart thermostats, for one, (like Nest) are helpful for a number of reasons.

Routines are one way – by automating a routine where we aren’t cooling a house that we aren’t even in. You can also change the temperature if you forget to set it before you leave for work (just pull over if you do – no home automation and driving). Lastly, you can learn a lot from analytics that show you your usage and how often your system kicks on.

Although it should be noted that a house without good airflow and ventilation won’t benefit too much, using those sweet analytics is the best way to maximize savings.

Heating and cooling costs account for 48% of the typical energy costs for a home.

I’m from Texas. So I know how important it is to stay cool.

Convenience makes a huge deal

Smart lighting is often brighter and more efficient (the joy of LED!), and has the ability to set lighting preferences (dim, have it adjust based on natural light, or set to schedules)which can lead to energy savings. And if you are running late (as we often are), and you happen to leave all your lights on – turning them off remotely can save energy costs.

Smart meters can tell you what in your home is using a lot energy – indicating potential issues and showing you ways to save.

Irrigation options like Cyber-Rain exist as well – with reducing the usage and waste of water by anticipating weather conditions. Although not directly related to your carbon footprint, saving water and reducing water loss is a big deal (particularly in California!).

Do your homework

That’s not to make things too rosy. A lot of smart appliances are more sugar than sustainability, but can help with other aspects of sustainability. Smart fridges for example, with remote cameras, can help reduce food waste and can ensure you don’t buy too much or forget the milk has expired.

Smart home devices can really impact our energy usage if we embrace automation and utilize analytics.

Otherwise, things like constantly playing with your lights (they change color!) or that fancy smart security system may end up just pulling more power from the grid. Like any tool in our life, there is an opportunity for the opposite effect (higher electric bills) if we don’t use the tools correctly.

Smart homes require making smart decisions. If you’re committed to reducing your carbon footprint, use smart devices to correct the human error (leaving your lights on) or help you make a better decision (cooling your home when you’re actually there, etc).

Mo’ devices can mean mo’ money – but only if put yourself in the know.
/micdrop

#smartenergy

Kam has a Master’s degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and is an HR professional. Obsessed with food, but writing about virtually anything, he has a passion for LGBT issues, business, technology, and cats.

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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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