Anthony Dominguez | CREtech

Anthony Dominguez | CREtech

Commercial real estate and start ups.

August 2015
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Anthony Dominguez | CREtech

5 Tech Trends You’ve Almost Heard Of That Will Eat CRE

Software is eating the world. Here's the ones eating commercial real estate.


We’re seeing once-in-a-hundred-years technology revolutions taking place in every part of the economy. Here, I outline the ones you might’ve not heard of yet that will shape CRE for the next one hundred.

4D Printing

This isn’t a joke. A new process is being developed by MIT and Stratys R&D whereby physical objects are assembling by themselves, it is being called 4D printing. Imagine robot like behavior without the reliance on electronics. Here you can see a strand shape itself into a cube, no software, just materials.

4D Printing: Cube Self-Folding Strand from Self-Assembly Lab, MIT on Vimeo.

Let’s say a building’s roof is starting to show wear and leaking is imminent. A 4D printed roof could become stronger at weak points, instead of breaking. This is a truly radical shift in understanding of structures. Today once something is created, it is static and rigid. With 4D printing the structure becomes dynamic and adjustable for peak performance.

Wireless Electricity

About a hundred years ago, Nikola Tesla invented the Tesla Coil, a tower meant to transfer power wirelessly. Today, we’re able to send electricity wirelessly with about 50% of the efficiency of a battery; they’re working on it. Most of us know that when you hold two wires very closely, the power can jump short distances. What physicists have figured out is how to increase that distance.

When you look around there is infrastructure everywhere to power our buildings. As the application of wireless charging progresses from mobile phones, it will find it’s way into our buildings. For a long time, the building will of course be powered with service lines but I’m concerned about connectivity within the building itself. Mini wireless power grids make sensors scalable. Building sensors can run battery free and at no extra costs for rewiring. This backbone will allow the IoT revolution your hear so much about truly arrive.

 Rise of WeChat

WeChat is a Chinese app that is trying to solve all of your problems. Most people are aware of the app for it’s messaging service but it has apps within apps that can be used for booking a flight, hailing a taxi, financial products, and more. WeChat offers insight to what happens when an entire country is molded by an app. At this scale, it was only logical for the company to get the cooperation of local government to launch a City Services feature. Users in pilot cities can pay traffic fines and home electricity, report incidents to the police, monitor air quality, and watch traffic camera video feeds. In the U.S., Snapchat, Facebook or another messaging app could reach this scale.

If interfacing with government were no longer a paperware process, it wouldn’t be long before people would want to communicate with property owners via a mobile portal. And if landlords chose to ignore messages, they would quickly fall behind and find out of city violations from the local government instead. Messaging as a feature is just a viral loop and not the end game. The end game is a highly connected world including the physical one.


You’ve heard of Bitcoin; the underlying technology is called Blockchain. The basics: blockchain technology records transactions, transactions are time dependent and happen in an order. Once something has happened and we create a record of that, the record becomes read only and cannot be changed. The data stored is called blocks. The timeline is the chain. Blocks store data. In Bitcoin, the data is transactions, but it could be any digital information.

In real estate there are high costs for due diligence. Closing costs range anywhere from 2 to 5% of the purchase price. That’s a high tax for transferring the ownership of the property. If property ownership were stored in a blockchain, closing property would become fairly straightforward event. The distributed database would prove authenticity of ownership and transfer ownership immediately without the need for local government, attorneys, and abstractor. It would completely replace the abstract of title. The abstract of title is just an opinion anyway whereas the blockchain is definitive. Ownership isn’t the only thing you could store in the blockchain. It could also include encumbrances, conveyances, and improvements. Effectively all the middleman related to transfer of deed would be disrupted.

Ambient Technology

Ambient technology knows what’s up. For anyone with Amazon Echo, you know what I’m talking about. Echo quietly pays attention to its surroundings, learning your habits and your interests. Working with voice activation you can find out arbitrary information like who is the 40th President, create to-do lists, and adjust the lighting with connected devices. Amazon has just delivered this technology but it shouldn’t be long before more connected devices come online. The future will be Iron Man’s Jarvis; contextually aware, adaptive and personalized.

Buildings embedded with ambient technology will create thoughtful experiences for occupants. Imagine a worker coming to the office; a facial recognition camera opens the door and greets her, when she enters her office the ambience is set to be welcoming, the audio reads aloud today’s agenda, as the day progresses the tech anticipates she needs to catch a train to make her Yoga class. Prepare for very smart surroundings.

This is meant to be a reminder that the technology to modernize commercial real estate is readily available. What trends are you most excited about? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.

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