Creating Value

“Yardi Orion is the tool that helps us create value for our clients,” said Jeanette Ruscitti, vice president of operations for The REMM Group. REMM is a third-party fee manager with more than 5,000 multifamily units and 1.5 million square feet of commercial space across Southern California. REMM takes a hands-on approach, working with its executive and onsite teams to go “above and beyond” for its clients — and investing in technology is key to the company’s success. Yardi Orion Business Intelligence is a mobile-enabled platform that combines financial, operational and ancillary services data from Yardi Voyager to deliver holistic portfolio insight. With configurable dashboards and more than 200 key performance indicators, Orion provides flexible reporting that enables REMM and its clients to make fast and informed business decisions. Shawn Conerty, REMM’s chief financial officer, said, “We have used Yardi Voyager software for years and find it is the most advanced property SaaS platform available. Our teams are empowered by the centralized source of data and automated workflows that simplify operations from leasing through move-ins and move-outs, work orders, purchase orders, check writing and more. Yardi’s marketing and leasing tools, including RENTCafé, make life easier for our prospects, residents and staff with online leasing, rent payments and maintenance requests.” Conerty commented that REMM came to the table to analyze Orion with these previous Yardi successes in mind. “Orion draws from all the flows of information that go through those Yardi systems: occupancy, delinquency, exceptions, marketing, financials, etc.,” he added. Built right into its Voyager platform, Orion has proven to be the right choice for REMM to serve its clients and meet business goals, with mobile access that makes it easy for REMM’s executives to utilize the system on the go. Real-time tracking of rental...

Driving Profits

“The ROI using Voyager has been huge,” said Jason Hoffman, COO and vice president at Alliance Property Systems, about running its business on the mobile Yardi Voyager platform. Led by a father-son team, Alliance provides comprehensive HOA and condominium management services along with commercial real estate management throughout South Florida. A longtime Yardi client, Alliance has always invested in technology and started with DOS-based Yardi Professional in the early 1990s. To meet new challenges in a changing industry and move its business forward, Alliance switched to the cloud-based Voyager platform in 2015. As a result, Alliance has gained automated workflows for tasks that previously required time-consuming manual processing, and accommodates a business model of “roving property management” with integrated online services and mobile tools. Winning in a tight market Alliance has a portfolio of 70 properties and 6,000 units in South Florida and only 13 employees. To succeed and be profitable in a competitive market with tight margins, the company must streamline and optimize internal processes, according to Leigh Hoffman, Alliance’s president and CEO (and father half of the father-son team). A key way Alliance achieves this is by leveraging Yardi’s leading-edge technology across its business. For a true end-to-end solution, Alliance has added products from the Yardi® Condo Suite to its Voyager platform. Integrated online services and simplified workflows for payments, procurement, invoice processing and more increase productivity and reduce costs for the company. When asked if Alliance’s investment in technology sets the company apart, Jason commented that the Voyager platform “100% helps us win business.” And according to Leigh, “We are more competitive and succeed because we’re offering options to our customers to do more things online, including payments.” Empowering a lean team This biggest line item in Alliance’s budget is employee costs....

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, they say, but I doubt Apple is pleased with the compliment Xiaomi has been paying since it launched its first smartphone back in 2011. Since then, the little rice (Xiaomi’s translation from Mandarin) grew into a solid 12.4 percent market share in China’s smartphone market. Chances are its growth will be boosted this year, with the help of the recently launched Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S. This Android-powered Apple-looking device is the company’s latest flagship smartphone. Design-wise, the Mi Mix 2S didn’t change from the version launched about half a year ago, and it’s understandable as it holds several design awards. The change happened under the hood, as it more often should. Back to the design features, the device looks exactly the same as its predecessor when regarded from the front—the 6-inch, full HD plus LCD display with 18:9 ratio and 1080p resolution and trim bezels on the side and top is unchanged, as is the 5-megapixel front camera, still placed in that awkward position at the bottom right corner of the device. The fingerprint sensor is still placed on the back. Mi Mix 2S is also made of ceramic with aluminum, but the company is interested in producing a full-ceramic edition, just as it did with the previous version; the color-scheme is minimal: black with gold trim and white with silver trim. On the back, there’s another story: the new dual-camera system replaced the single module and has been moved to the top left corner, mirroring iPhone X’s design. The camera system consists of two 12-megapixel sensors—one behind the wide-angle lens and the other behind a telephoto lens. The system features dual-pixel autofocus, four-axis optical image stabilization and Sony’s IMKX363 sensor with an F/1.8 aperture and 1.4-micron...

Digital Identity

In December, we named blockchain technology as one of the major trends for 2018. We were on to something. Even though blockchain technology is most often associated with cryptocurrencies, it has exceeded those applications. What is Blockchain? Blockchain is a digital ledger that records transactions in a series of blocks. It exists in multiple copies spread across multiple computers (nodes), impossible to tamper with thanks to the fact that each block of transactions (data) is linked back to previous blocks. Once you learn more about blockchain, it becomes clear that there are a vast number of uses available for the technology. Cryptocurrencies were only the beginning. Blockchain in the Real World The City of Austin is among the governments and private entities seeking ways to use blockchain technology to solve some of society’s biggest challenges. Currently, there are about 2,000 people struggling with housing insecurity in Austin. Several thousand more live in poverty. For people facing housing insecurity, identification documents are a serious challenge. Without safe storage, documents are easily stolen or lost. Securing housing, employment, and services becomes more difficult. The lack of documentation results in high costs, re-traumatization and diminished motivation. In July 2017, Austin received a $1.25 million three-year grant for research and development to improve existing homelessness services. With the funds, officials launched a pilot program that uses blockchain to help homeless persons protect their identities in the event that their IDs are lost or destroyed. Dubbed MyPass Initiative, the program is a partnership between the city of Austin, Austin-Travis County EMS and Dell Medical School at the University of Texas. The blockchain initiative will enable users to store information such as identification cards, social security numbers and medical history all in one virtual space. No matter where users show...

Sustainable Training

Do you find that your internal staff training program lacks engagement or consistency? Yardi eLearning’s featured topic for this month focuses on creating effective and sustainable training programs for busy real estate companies. Take the pressure off of your training team with these best practices. The Balance Sheet caught up with Michael Joiner of Yardi eLearning’s client services team to get the inside scoop on what this valuable training platform has to offer. What does it mean to have an Effective and Sustainable Training Program?  Joiner: An effective training program is one that meets the training needs of a company. A sustainable training program requires a balance between the administrative tasks—like scheduling training, assigning courses, communicating between instructors and students, validating student work, running reports—and maintaining existing training with the development of new training that meets additional needs of the company and its employees.  What’s one common hurdle that keeps clients’ training programs from being effective?  Joiner: Not identifying the needs of the learners. For instance, you can assign a ton a courses, but do those courses help bridge a skills gap or correct a behavior? Ineffective training programs assign courses for the sake of assigning content that someone thinks is necessary, but it may not be relevant or applicable to an individual. What’s one common hurdle that keeps clients’ training programs from being sustainable? Joiner: Focusing too much on developing new training and letting existing training become out dated. Out-of-date training leads to a lack of engagement and trust on the part of the learner. A sustainable training program creates new training initiatives while regularly updating existing content. How can users access this information after the webinar? Joiner: We’re teaching this class at YASC Washington, D.C. May 30- June 1, 2018. We’ll also be...

3 Reasons Why

Think you’re getting top dollar for your units? Odds are, you can be doing a lot better if you were working with a revenue manager. All Yardi RENTmaximizer users get a designated revenue manager to help them identify best practices for the highest revenues—even with those hard-to-move units. The role of a revenue manager is to first understand the asset, then the company’s goals for the asset. Is it a long-term hold or short-term sell? Do you want to improve occupancy or increase rates? Your revenue manager will work with you to understand your objectives. Your revenue manager can then offer insights and suggest ways to attain your goals based on different rules and settings in RENTmaximizer. Together, you can monitor the property to make sure that you are achieving your goals. When you work with a revenue manager, three things happen in your favor. You make the best decisions for your property based on accurate data, not just competitor behavior. “One of the most common mistakes is feeling the need to follow the competitor,” explains Tracy Hollins, Senior Technical Account Manager, CSD at Yardi. “Just because they dropped their rates does not always mean that you should.  They could have other issues causing lower occupancy where your property is performing just fine.” You gain access to historic data as well as current activity and emerging trends. “Another mistake is making assumptions based on what happened last year,” says Hollins. “Things are always changing and while historical information is important, you must not neglect what is happening now.” For example, don’t rush to make changes just because last summer was a very hot market with lots of leases. That doesn’t mean this summer will be the same.  Current trends play a huge role in savvy...

Argentum

Don’t miss the Argentum Senior Living Executive Conference and Expo on May 14-16, 2018. This year’s event will take place in sunny San Diego. The Conference Join more than 2,700 of your fellow C-level executives for three days packed with informative sessions and networking opportunities. Sessions covered include memory care, technology, hiring and management, safety, market trends and much more. Yardi’s Michael Remorenko will discuss the white paper, Senior Living Data Security. Attendees will learn how to safeguard sensitive data from online attacks and third-party hacks. Since 2015, data breaches have increased by 17.7 percent. Personally identifiable information (PII) such as social security and credit card numbers are valuable to criminals. Private information can be used to forge prescriptions, open new lines of credit and other offenses. Remorenko will present on the industry’s best practices—as well as groundbreaking advancements—that keep seniors’ data safe. For more information, visit Remorenko’s session on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 at 7:45am to 8:15am. The Expo You can explore Yardi’s latest offerings for senior living at our expo booth. The Expo showcases the latest solutions by leaders in senior living products and services. Yardi will have a 20 x 30 booth where guest are encouraged to test-drive Yardi’s senior living suite. Get answers to your questions about product offerings and how they can enhance your organization. Between the conference and the expo, there is a lot to do! Keep your schedule organized with the My Show Planner. This planning tool allows users to research exhibitors, schedule appointments, and add sessions to your itinerary. After the Show San Diego, the nation’s eighth largest city, has tons to offer visitors. The San Diego Convention Center, places guests in the center of the action. A short walk places conference attendees on the doorstep...

Investment Tech

A key investment management trend over the past few years is the increasing demands limited partners (LPs) are placing on their general partners (GPs) such as additional key performance indicators, fee disclosures, or a more active relationship, among others. Changes in the relationship between LPs and GPs involved in real estate investment, the maturation of the investment management industry and increasing sophistication of asset aggregators are some of the principal factors. Co-investment came into favor as a strategy for LPs, creating new challenges even as it solved others. In this new paradigm, advancements in investment management technology is key to making a potentially fraught relationship work for both sides. Analyzing opportunities and performance has created new challenges for LPs and GPs involved in private equity real estate investments. For example, LPs often request different standard data than GPs are accustomed to using; GPs must produce custom data extracts for each LP, a cumbersome and time-consuming exercise. For their part, the LPs often struggle to compile and aggregate data from GPs in analyzing their investments. With these challenges, many LPs and GPs are seeking new tools for collaborating and managing their real estate investment activities. One increasingly popular option involves employing a single connected platform that draws information from disparate data sources and aggregates complex ownership structures.  Such a platform provides clarity into investment programs, manages risk and allocation, and easily calculates returns and compares them to benchmarks. This approach can improve deal tracking, communication and investment decisions for LPs and GPs. Unifying operational and financial data within a single platform helps GPs by automating the complex accounting transactions associated with fund management. They can more easily manage complex ownership structures, consolidate financials and report to investors. Capital calls can be timed to up-to-the-minute operating...

Apple’s Marzipan

The iPhone is Apple’s most popular product, with superb design and flawless operating system. The Mac is a beautiful and powerful machine that turns working into fun. iPhones and Macs, as members of the same product family, communicate nicely through continuity module, but there’s one more thing that could make the experience even better. In fact, Apple users have been dreaming about this for a very long time. The unification of iOS and macOS becomes a dream as soon as one joins the ranks of Mac users. It’s sad to see how few apps made it to the Mac thus far. Since last December, rumor has it that Apple is almost ready to fulfill this desire. A Bloomberg report claims that Apple has an internal project, dubbed Marzipan, that seeks to make it possible for app developers to publish apps that will work on both the mobile iOS devices and on Mac computers. But here people have different opinions on how, if at all, this will roll out. Blurring the lines between iOS and macOS is anticipated to occur this year at the next major software kicks in. If Apple decides to stick to its usual release pattern, we’re looking at iOS 12 and macOS 10.14 (some say that Apple might even rename it all together and go with macOS 11 for such a big update). The update is anticipated to be launched at WWDC in June, following to launch to the public in September. Until then, we will stockpile our questions. The first set of questions that comes to mind has to do with the concepts of each OS: iOS doesn’t have a mouse cursor and runs only on touchscreen devices, while macOS has no support for touchscreen devices and needs a mouse...

Condo Tech Tips

It’s an exciting time for the condo industry in Canada. Facing tech disruption, new building, increasing regulation and competition, condo companies need to rethink — and even reinvent — the way they do business. To improve operational performance and increase NOI, condo managers need software platforms that deliver actionable analytics and integrated online services. A Market on the Move  As revealed in the PWC Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2018 report, the condo sector in Canada is seeing steady demand in most markets. In downtown core areas, condo units remain attractive to young professionals with a live/work/play lifestyle, along with retiring baby boomers who are downsizing from single family residences to enjoy urban amenities. The condo industry is also evolving in response to new needs and pressures. Whether there isn’t enough supply to meet demand or oversupply is finally being absorbed, condo managers need a profitable strategy that suits every scenario — including new projects such as popular multiuse communities that are driving density in city centers. These trendy new communities combine a mix of condo units with retail, a range of services and commercial space. Beyond the concept of mixed use, these “developments-as-neighborhoods”  recognize the demand for a community infrastructure that includes schools, parks, shopping and medical services that consider needs of young professionals, young families and older residents, too. According the PWC report, “The age of the shrinking condo may be coming to an end: units are starting to get bigger, reflecting the needs of families and move-up buyers.”  Tip #1: Go Paperless and Save  To be more agile in a changing market and transform operations to be more profitable, you have to say goodbye to paper. By streamlining invoice processing and centralizing spend management with automated online approval workflows, you ensure...

Connected Homes

The internet of things has arrived. Connected devices get smarter every day. They learn our preferences for music, temperature, what time we like to wake up, and seemingly more and more about our daily routine. Home-based devices offer many personal benefits and conveniences. Heavy traffic between home and the office? Alexa will warn you to leave early. Need to take out the garbage cans tonight before bed? Google Home will remind you. Smart thermostats, such as those offered by Nest and ecobee, are also providing conveniences for utility companies to address peak power events. Residents who sign up with their utility provider can authorize their smart thermostat to self-adjust, either up or down depending on weather, so that their home consumes less energy during peak hours. If the automatic setting is not comfortable, users can make their own adjustment and reset the temperature as needed. Big Picture Benefits “Being able to do things like shut off the AC from a smartphone when you accidently left it on is an innovative way to improve our lives. But, as connected thermostats become more common, there are bigger benefits possible,” said Matt Eggers, vice president of energy for Yardi. One example is how clean energy sources become more viable as consumers participate in these programs. “Energy created by solar and wind can be intermittent because sunshine and wind speeds are constantly variable. Giving utilities a strategy to manage demand, for example by having temporary control over consumers’ thermostats, water heaters or electric vehicle chargers, allows them to bring on even more solar and wind sources,” said Eggers. Smart thermostats also save money for utilities by using less power when it is most expensive. Power costs can vary throughout the day based on time of use pricing structures....

For App Addicts

Your smartphone is the one thing you carry on you at all times. It has become an omnipresent device, with very few places where one’s not allowed to have it. It helps a great deal, but it’s ever more damaging as well. Today we face something that’s called ‘app addiction’ and there are more and more studies showing the damaging effects apps have on our brains. Analytics company Flurry released some data that shows that people in the U.S. use their mobile devices for five hours a day. More so, the tech-support firm Asurion found that Americans check their phones 80 times a day on average. Even more so, you’ve surely heard that Silicon Valley parents (from the ranks of those who built these apps and devices) are raising their kids to be tech-free. One Brooklyn-based company has proposed an alternative to the tech monopolies back in 2015 and now they’ve returned with a second model—Light Phone 2 is everything a smartphone isn’t, an intentionally limited gadget. The device is a 4G LTE phone with a black and white matte E-ink display and only a few features extra compared to an old school landline: it can send and receive messages, set up an alarm clock, and maybe it will be able to calculate a ride home and perhaps even listen to your favorite playlist. It can also store a decent contact list, too. That’s it—no social network tools, ads, email, games, or whatever else to distract you from the reality of life. Joe Hollier and Kai Tang, the company’s founders, came up with the idea while at a Google incubator where they were asked to design smartphone apps. They did… the opposite. The world already had too many addicting apps, it was time to...

Intel’s Vaunt Glasses...

If you lived through the Google Glass launch and decided that smartglasses are not a device you would use every day, you might consider changing your mind. Intel’s development team has been busy and has something new to share. In an exclusive arrangement with The Verge, Intel showcased the new Vaunt gadget, a piece of tech that doesn’t scream at you ‘tech.’ They’re probably the closest thing to regular pair of eyeglasses and come in several styles, work with prescriptions and can be worn all day long without having your nose or ears get numb. Intel’s New Design Group (NDG) boast a simple interface, minimal design and a non-intrusive notification system, just the features to make the world have a second look and maybe bring the smart eyewear to the mainstream. Weighing almost 1.8 ounces (50 grams), the Vaunt glasses have plastic frames, which make lighter than most of the smart glasses and AR headsets out there, and most importantly, they feel like a regular pair of specs. At a first glance, nothing ‘smart’ really stands out—there are no visible camera, buttons or touch controls—which is ironically a plus. Intel learned from its predecessor (Google) that these elements are driving people away. The Vaunt’s technology is made by Intel, as are the chips and application processor. At the moment, the smartglasses are designed only to display notifications and basic information directly into the user’s eyes. Think text messages, recipes and directions, but following the launch, developers will come up with new apps serving various purposes. Let’s get back to the ‘directly into the user’s eyes’ part—Vaunt works by the means of a Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser (VSCEL) to project information onto a reflector onto a reflector on the right lens, which in turn...

Building Dimensions

Leasing agents often have to be part lawyer, part CPA and part tour guide when handling such details as monitoring existing tenant lease options, notifications and expiration dates, tracking prospective tenants, crafting letters of intent and arranging showings. Customer relationship management technology that manages these operations has come a long way over the past few years. A key development was stacking plans and floor plans that provide a two-dimensional visual representation of a building showing space availability, tenants on each floor, expiration dates and current rental rates.  Color coding helps managers, leasing teams and others identify opportunities and expose risk.  And mobile technology has taken lease execution out of the office and into the field, further shortening the leasing cycle. What’s the next step for CRM technology?  The Balance Sheet asked Tom Dragmen, Yardi’s manager of global solutions, for a deeper dive into the emerging generation of stacking plan and floor plan technology. Q: What does “interactive stacking and floor plans” mean? A: This refers to a rich visual representation of lease expirations and related space details. They can overlay configurable performance measures and metrics on floor plans.  They also provide a visual dimension for efficiently analyzing expirations, options, unit types and rent-per-area trends in buildings. Q: What’s the user perspective? A: Leasing agents and others get a full graphical display of vital information including lease statistics that determine rental rate trends.  They can see stacking and floor plans based on expirations occurring in specific years, rents per area, encumbrances, options, proposals, unit types, and tenant performance measures such as sales per area, sales variances year over year and foot traffic. Q: How can this information be used? A: When integrated with CRM and accounting systems, the new generation of interactive stacking and floor...

Efficiency Unlocked

Linda Greenwaldt, an IT specialist with CommonBond Communities, has a well-rounded understanding of the affordable housing industry. She has turned units and worked her way up to help manage properties. Her career path has given her a unique perspective to her current role in IT. She asked, “What can we do to make the process more efficient, for prospects, residents, and staff?” Yardi RENTCafé for subsidized housing is a robust multifamily marketing and leasing platform. It simplifies marketing, SEO, SEM, online leasing, and resident engagement. Greenwaldt and the CommonBond team saw the potential for RENTCafé to simplify operations for prospects, residents, and staff. CommonBond recently implemented RENTCafé. The nonprofit organization is rolling out the software to its 11,000 residents at a pace of about five properties every two weeks, beginning with property websites and resident-facing services. “It’s a lot easier in RENTCafé,” says Greenwaldt. “We’re to the point now where the websites are awesome.” CommonBond’s new property websites include modern layouts, user-friendly navigation, easy access to floor plans and pricing information. When prospects are ready to make a decision, online leasing is available. “I really like the way it all works in RENTCafé. It’s so much easier to manage RENTCafé marketing than lots of separate components. I’m not a web designer, but I can throw myself in RENTCafé and achieve consistency between sites,” says Greenwaldt. RENTCafé goes beyond prospects’ first steps to improve the resident experience. In the RENTCafé resident portal, renters can file and track maintenance requests, receive updates on community message boards, and access a variety of ways to pay their rent. “I’m loving the resident experience in RENTCafé. Residents have so many options in how to pay,” says Greenwaldt. “Credit card payments, ACH payments, reoccurring payments, Walk In Payments (WIPS). We...

2018 Wearable Tech

At the beginning there were fitness wearables. They slowly transgressed into fashionable wearables and now can be seen in many industries. These days, the tiny devices, once strapped around the wrist, can be found all over one’s body, including on your fingernails. “We’re seeing lots of not obvious usage scenarios, but once you start to really think about it, it makes perfect sense,” Brian Blau, research vice president for personal technologies at market research firm Gartner, said in an interview from CES. Here’s a list with some of the most interesting ones out there: L’Oréal UV Sense Among the smallest wearables out there, L’Oréal’s UV Sense is a UV sensor that sticks to your fingernail. It comes with replaceable adhesives, but one can easily stick it to other items, like your watch or sunglasses. Thanks to its NFC feature, in order to access the data it collects, scanning it with the phone is all that’s needed. As you probably guessed, it helps people track how much time people spend in the sun without being overbearing. UV Sense will determine how long you’ve been out in the sun and once synced with your app, displays a score that shows if you’ve spent too much time under the sun’s powerful rays. Because everyone can handle different amounts of sun, the app will ask some initial questions about your skintone to set a baseline. In addition, it can also recommend products based off your skin score. LIZN Hearpieces Another medical aid presented at CES comes from Danish company LIZN. By mixing advanced hearing aid technology and cell phone components, the company built a product worthy to be named a CES Innovation Awards Honoree this year in Las Vegas. The earbuds, equipped with Bluetooth compatibility (great for listening...

HercuWall

Want to lower project costs and enjoy a faster build cycle all while improving the quality of the finished product? Of course you do. HercuTech’s HercuWall, the poster child of reNEWable Living Home 2018, makes it possible. The Product HercuWall offers the durability of composite concrete construction without the need for steel rebar. The product comes with a water and vapor barrier, and it is dust free, impervious to mold, and unappealing to termites. Each HercuWall kit is computer generated and precision cut to meet product specifications, including casings for windows and doors. Upon delivery, block masons and framers can quickly and easily assemble the prefabricated panels—each weighing 40 pounds or fewer–without any modifications on the site. Builders can enjoy less mess, no wasted materials, and reduced worksite clutter. Completed HercuWall products came in a range of insulation value ratings, including R-20, R-29 and R-33. When supported with energy efficient windows and adequate HVAC units, HercuWall can reduce energy costs by 40-60 percent. The performance of the product does not diminish over time, resulting in long lasting durability and comfort. Now for the information that you’ve been waiting for: HercuWall is competitively priced with block and wood framing. The prefabricated kits make it quick and easy to assemble, reducing the labor and time needed. HercuTech cites that a 2,400 square-foot production house can be installed in 2.5 hours and concrete placed in two more hours with a crew of five. According to the HercuTech website: “Experts predict that this type of construction will have higher resale value than conventionally built structures.” Live Applications There are several completed residences in Arizona as well as the Meritage Homes reNEWable Living Home, a partnership with BUILDER Magazine. The reNEWable Living Home showcases groundbreaking products in sustainable building....

Aiding the Blind

More than 250 million people lack the gift of sight. While for the most of us even imagining what it is like to live in complete darkness is impossible, some have found a way to make a commitment that’s truly amazing—to end vision loss by 2020. Luckily, we live in the era of wearable technology. eSight originates in Toronto, Canada, where one successful engineer—Conrad Lewis— with two legally blind sisters, wanted to use his skills to come up with a solution to their blindness. It took him seven years and investments of tens of millions of dollars to develop the technology and in 2013, managed to release two beta versions of the glasses that would revolutionize the world of the legally blind. In 2017, the company launched eSight 3, a much sleeker and lighter version of the headset, which also has improved battery life and image quality. How does it work? The gadget is equipped with two depth sensors and a high speed, high resolution camera positioned in the middle of the eSight glasses that captures whatever it is that the user is looking at in real time. It also has a powerful computer, which instantly processes the high definition video and displays it on two OLED screens in front of the user’s eyes, using specific optics. The gizmo’s proprietary algorithms enhance the video feed, which offers clarity without perceptible latency or delay. This allows the user to auto-focus between short-range vision to long-range vision. A special feature—the patented Bioptic Tilt capability—enables users to adjust the eyewear to the precise position they choose and also maximize the outer peripheral vision, which people with low vision still have functional. The feature, combined with imperceptible short latency, keeps the user’s balance in check, thus no nausea...

Alien Ale

Start with a little volcanic ash, add a dash of vermiculite and some coffee grounds, and what you end up with is not just a reasonable facsimile of Martian soil, but also the perfect environment for the cultivation of hops. While on its own, Martian soil’s density and aridness make it inhospitable to most crops, the addition of a few crew ingredients can change barren earth into the perfect host for potatoes, herbs and, apparently, the types of grains that make beer possible. Soil analysis reveals hops could thrive on Mars, opening the door for a truly out-of-this-world brew. That’s the discovery presented by a group of students from Villanova University to a recent meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington D.C. Working with astronomy and astrophysicist Professor Edward F. Guinan, 25 budding Martian farmers initiated a series of experiments to see which types of crops might thrive on the red planet. While most of the participants chose practical plants, like soybeans and kale, on group decided to see if the essential ingredient for beer might also be viable. “Because they’re students,” Dr. Guinan said of the decision, it makes sense they’d lean toward ‘Martian beer.’” A Handful of Mars The Martian agricultural experiment began as a way for Guinan and his class to explore how a typical Martian colony could sustain its residents. Though real Martian soil isn’t actually available, The Martian Garden sells a unique blend of crushed basalt from the Mojave Desert based on NASA and JPL research to produce soil “as close as you can get to Mars without leaving Earth.” While the soil is available for purchase, beginning with the MMS-1 Mojave Mars Simulant at $5 a pound, students, researchers and “space enthusiasts” can receive a free sample...

Digital Definition

What does “digital transformation” mean to commercial property management beyond a catchphrase? Six thought leaders including Alex Stanton, Yardi’s commercial industry principal, provided clarity on the subject in a recent Realcomm-hosted webinar. Digital transformation extends technology beyond acquiring and managing property.  It’s driven by business factors such as profitability, occupant satisfaction and productivity along with new technologies including the cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things. Digital transformation is “a strategy lever to achieve broader business agendas and create new levels of value,” according to panelist Marc Petock, chief communications officer and vice president of marketing for IoT technology builder Lynxspring. Digital transformation aggregates business, operations and IT practices into a common platform for people, processes, best practices and services, Petock said, with new technology embraced not for its own sake but to change thought and organizational culture. Executed properly, digital transformation can foster better resource planning, empowerment, technology collaboration and risk mitigation. With heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment comprising a major expense, for example, commercial building owners and operators are incentivized to adopt intelligent building technology that provides new insight into operations and equipment performance. Commercial real estate has traditionally been slow to adopt transformative technology; when the panelists were asked how much of the industry understands digital transformation, no estimate exceeded 30 percent. But that’s changing in the face of pressures for profits, high sustainability expectations and consumers’ technology sophistication. “Technology used to mean ‘support’; now it’s at the forefront of driving revenue and services,” said Sandy Jacolow, chief information officer for real estate developer, investor and manager Silverstein Properties. “It has shifted how we do business.  For example, mobile capability is no longer a luxury; tenants say ‘Is there an app for that?’  A poor interface or customer experience...