The technology industry’s mega event, known as CES, kicks off in Las Vegas this week, and thousands of companies are gearing up to show off their latest innovations. And this year’s trade show promises plenty for the real estate industry as well.
This will be my third run covering CES from Las Vegas, and it’s one of the few conferences that brings the city to a practical standstill. More than 3,900 companies are showing off products throughout the city’s hotels and convention center. I’ll admit it can be overwhelming; people zoom by on Hoverboards, drones swarm overhead, televisions loom larger than your eyes can take in, booming speakers rattle you to the core, cars drive by on their own, and random robots rush up to greet you. Thankfully, when you need to escape from all the flashiness, you can slip on a VR headset and become immersed in the sight and sounds of the beaches of Tahiti. While the CES show floor is a wild sight, it does offer one of the best glimpses into the technology that could rock the real estate world in the next few years. And I’m here to find the tools that may transform the way you conduct showings, advance how you market properties, and make your mobile office even more efficient.
In preparation, hundreds of PR folks have flooded my voicemail and email inboxes, all with promises that they hold the next big thing for your business. Do they? We’ll see. As the week wears on, you can see our extended coverage from the show floor detailing product debuts, tech news, and our annual video countdown to the biggest game-changers for your business.
Here are a few categories that I’m keeping my eye on at this year’s show:
- Smart home tech: These devices are getting more sophisticated, easier to use, and more affordable. Our favorite artificial intelligence tools—Amazon’s Alexa, Siri, and Google Home—are being folded in to ever more products. I’ll be scouting the show floor for more innovations in the smart-home arena. For the third consecutive year, Coldwell Banker will be sponsoring the Smart Home Marketplace, so we’ll also check in to hear what they see as the most important innovations for real estate pros.
- Smart cities: Technology is expected to reshape our cities, combining artificial intelligence, data analytics, electric grids, public safety, and intelligent transportation. Global spending on smart city initiatives is projected to reach more than $34 billion by 2020. I’ll be looking to understand how municipalities are planning to connect communities in new ways with more sensors that can do everything from monitoring air quality to alerting police when the sound of gunshots are detected.
- 5G: This super-fast wireless speed, which is supposed to be 100 times faster and five times more responsive than what we currently use, is coming to a smart phone near you. AT&T and Verizon are expected to give status updates on the fifth-generation network technology during this year’s show. How will the ability to transfer and upload information instantly change your business?
- Driverless cars: The technology may still be a ways off from your local lanes, but more autonomous driving features are gradually hitting the roadways. This will transform the way our economy and the built environment function, which is why it’s vital for real estate professionals to understand.
- Robots: Virtual tours via robots? They’re already happening. While real estate professionals aren’t in danger of being replaced by robots, some are excited by the idea of showings becoming easier. I’ll be looking for new ways robots could become your next office assistant.
- Drones: It wouldn’t be a proper CES show without drones buzzing in the air. What are the latest advances in capturing property photos from the sky? The technology is getting easier to use, and a bodyguard-like drone has me intrigued.
- Virtual reality: VR headsets allow you to take buyers inside of a listing from anywhere in the world. Real estate pros have already been experimenting with the technology, but I’m looking forward to checking in on the latest developments from CES.
There’s plenty more. Smart appliances, cameras, and of course, there are always those unexpected exhibitors who manage to make you raise your eyebrow as you walk by—was that a laundry folding robot? I’ll definitely be stopping by to get his card!