The 4 Breakthrough Technologies Impacting CRE Tech

Industry leaders always think forward. What innovations potentially will change our world forever? One place to find game-changing discoveries is the MIT Technology Review’s 10 Breakthrough Technologies. Since 2001, MIT has spotlighted advances it believes will reshape our lives for years to come. Four tech innovations highlighted in the 2018 edition have implications for the commercial real estate industry.

#1- Artificial intelligence

Has the shine worn off artificial intelligence’s novelty? Not according to MIT, which points out that AI tech hasn’t completely gone mainstream–yet. That’s about to change thanks to cloud-based AI technology. Google, Amazon, and Microsoft all working in the cloud AI field.  These advances in machine learning are bringing cloud-based AI tech to a wider audience.

Cloud-based AI will help developers create more applications and hardware for the commercial real estate industry. Cloud-based AI simplifies creating new technology, translating to increased accessibility both in price and development. There are hints of the impact this will have in the Internet of Things and smart building expansion. The newest AI-controlled IoT devices work through the cloud.

#2-Smart cities

Smart city technology is still cutting-edge. Metropolitan authorities around the globe are still wrapping their minds around the possibilities, what technology to implement, and how to do it without busting tight municipal budgets. MIT highlighted Toronto's Quayside development as an example project rethinking smart city implementation. Sidewalk Toronto will be a ground-up development in collaboration with Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs and not a retrofit of existing space.

Working together, Alphabet hopes to figure out how to work with governments seeking to add smart city tech. Quayside hopes to be a model neighborhood with driverless shuttle buses instead of private cars, modular buildings, and mail delivery robots. If the project is successful, it could change new commercial development projects on the small and large scale. Revitalization projects could become insular neighborhoods awash with smart city technology.

#3-Neural networks

Ian Goodfellow proposed the Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) in 2014. Essentially, GANs pit two neural networks against each other. Each network is “trained” on the same data. One network, the “generator” creates variations on images. The other, the “discriminator,” identifies if the images are fake or real. These GANs produce incredibly photorealistic images that the results even trick humans.

Don’t be fooled into thinking GANs are limited to creating realistic–but fake–van Gogh paintings. A GAN was used in a competition to predict Russian housing market fluctuations. The dueling neural network can be trained with less data to provide predictions. Perhaps the dueling neural network could be used to identify and tag image features, making visual search technology more accessible. The tech is still so new that different kinds of GANs are in development, like conditional, bidirectional, and semi-supervised GANs. It will be interesting to watch how developers apply dueling neural networks to AI applications and other new technologies.

#4-Zero-knowledge proof

With the amount of technology in use around the world, can you ever be completely private? The relentless and numerous cyber attacks means personal data theft is a real concern. Zero-knowledge proof might be the answer. The concept isn’t new, but there is increased interest in the protocol thanks to blockchain and cryptocurrency networks.

In an industry where cryptocurrency and blockchain are poised to make significant changes, zero-knowledge proof protocols could build client confidence and trust in the new systems. Consumers conduct real estate transactions through banks or cryptocurrency networks without sacrificing their privacy. Early adopter JP Morgan Chase has added zk-SNARK, a zero-knowledge cryptography, to its blockchain-based system.

Artificial intelligence and smart city technology may be closest to breaking through barriers in commercial real estate, but with increasing interest in blockchain, zero-knowledge proof implementation is worth investigation. Keep an eye on the news around dueling neural networks; this could be the next decade’s big trend in CRE tech.

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