The latest unveiling in the Internet of Things came from Amazon today with their announcement of Amazon Go, a convenience store without checkout lines. Patrons of the store, scheduled to open in 2017, scan an Amazon Go app upon entrance. Once their app is scanned, they simply shop and leave. There is no waiting and no registers. The technology has been in development four years and uses a combination of AI, machine learning and computer vision. Basically, a mix of algorithms, sensor fusion and a ton of cameras bring this futuristic shopping experience to life.
Anything you pick up while you’re in the store is automatically added to your virtual cart. Purchases are charged to your Amazon account and your receipt is sent to your Amazon Go App. The ramifications go beyond the end of price checks. This is one of the first examples of technology woven into a physical environment in a holistic way.
We discussed the trend of the Internet of Things last month and this move by Amazon clearly demonstrates how advanced this has become. Suddenly, the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle isn’t just a place to get good sushi, donuts and live music. Now, right there on 7th Ave, you can step into future.
What ramifications might this have for real estate?
First, companies like Amazon are now combining technologies to create new experiences that mold consumer expectations. Today for example, consumers expect recommendation engines in their online purchasing experience. When you order something online from a vendor, you probably expect that vendor to remember what you ordered and make suggestions when you return. Large companies like Netflix, Spotify, and (yes) Amazon have helped mold these expectations.
This idea will start to bleed into real estate. When a real estate consumer visits a portal, they will expect that portal to make recommendations based on their previous searches.
As this technology moves into the physical world, real estate consumers will be able to visit neighborhoods and capture houses that appeal to them through their mobile device. That information will be collected and consolidated into a central database so agents know which homes will resonate with that consumer. Companies like Maponics already identify boundaries around areas like neighborhoods, ballparks, and malls (called Social Places). This exact targeting will enable this type of IoT experience in real estate and beyond.
You can imagine this will extend to not only the homes themselves, but features within a home. Consumers will be able to mark certain rooms, fixtures, flooring and more - like a real life Pinterest. As they move through the physical world, they will be able to indicate their preferences and send that information to a virtual one.
All of this will streamline the consumer experience. The time consumers spend idle – waiting in line to checkout, for example – will diminish. The time consumers spend looking for homes should also go down. Home-buyers, who in 1965 looked at an average of 15 homes before picking one, will now look at a finite number of homes, because those homes will be preselected based on their likes and preferences.
For this world to exist however, consumers must be willing to give up even more of their privacy. And with that, increase the risk of cyber-attacks, future hacks, and a flood of targeted marketing.
If that’s a price consumers are willing to pay, get ready for a more convenient world. A world where more of our behaviors and preferences are recorded and stored. A world where everything suddenly seems accessible. And a world where your kids find paper receipts, checkout lines, and Target Lady utterly perplexing.