The housing market continues to defy gravity. Sales of existing homes rose more than 10% last month compared to a year ago, hitting their highest level since December 2006, according to the National Association of Realtors. And now, more than ever, people are relying on online platforms to search for -- and even buy -- houses. And that opens the door for artificial intelligence to play a bigger role, like using computer vision to create real estate listings based on photos. I spoke with Christopher Geczy, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania who teaches about real estate and insurance technology.
Orchard has raised $69 million in venture capital to continue the development of its machine learning technology that aims to make buying a home less complicated. Revolution Growth led the round of funding, which also included money from FirstMark, Navitas, Accomplice, and Juxtapose. The company has now raised a total of $138 million, a sign that investors are bullish on the potential of its algorithms to disrupt the real estate market. Orchard offers services that enable the entire experience -- including listing a home, searching for a home to buy, making an offer, and closing the sale -- to be done virtually. That has the potential to eat into a legacy business that still can be a complicated slog for buyers and sellers as they navigate the intricacies of paperwork and the idiosyncrasies of brokerage firms.
Artificial intelligence in real estate is not just a buzzword today. Today AI has become an integral part of technology. AI has proliferated in many industry divisions, and real estate is no exemption. Opposed to what many people worried, the rise of AI hasn't led to a surge of jobs being displaced by computers, and neither is it likely to in the foreseeable future. Instead, AI arose from the need to obtain higher value from frequently large data sets, which have long since outgrown human intelligence to make sense of them.
Alexa has been smartening up homes since 2014, but for those who don't want to bother with the setup process, a new Amazon program will let apartment building owners offer units with Alexa built in. With Alexa for Residential, property owners set up Alexa devices across units, making the move to voice-assistant life easier for tenants moving in. Renters control their apartment's smart features--set alarms and reminders, get the news, and more via voice commands--without linking their Amazon accounts or buying an Echo device themselves. If residents want to link their Amazon accounts to their apartment's smart devices for full control of their privacy settings, they can. They can log out at any time, and smart devices are reset at move-out.
Ford, Bosch, and Dan Gilbert's real estate firm Bedrock today detailed an autonomous parking pilot scheduled to launch at The Assembly, a mixed-used building in Detroit, in September. Leveraging Bosch sensors that monitor driving corridors and their surroundings to guide vehicles to and from assigned spaces, Ford plans to demo how its cars can self-drive to parking spaces without human drivers onboard. The autonomous parking valet -- which the companies claim is the first of its kind in the U.S. -- leans on a range of intelligent infrastructure supplied by Bosch, including lidar sensors, stereo cameras, and a dedicated server. Complementary in-car Ford technology converts commands into driving maneuvers, enabling cars to drive themselves up and down ramps and spot potential hazards (including pedestrians). Upon arriving at the garage, drivers will leave the test vehicle in a designated area and use an app to send it into an automated parking maneuver.
Dr. Velkoski serves as Director, Data Science at the National Association of REALTORS and Adjunct Professor at DePaul University. It has been nearly eight years since data scientist was declared the sexiest job of the 21st century. As senior professionals demonstrating the talent and creativity necessary to transform raw data into deep, intuitive knowledge, data scientists were poised to revolutionize decision-making and strengthen organizational performance. According to PwC's 22nd Annual Global CEO Survey, organizations continue to struggle to extract actionable intelligence from data. Those that participated in the survey highlighted a lack of analytical talent, data silos and poor data reliability as the main causes for the absence of progress.
As a child, Jasjeet Thind led the other kids at his daycare to engage in shenanigans. He still exercises his leadership skills, but instead he uses them to organize Zillow's army of engineers as they aim to automate everything about real estate. Thind became fascinated with data as a college student at Cornell University in the 1990s, and his career exploded along with the deep learning revolution. After early jobs writing code, he transitioned into management at Microsoft and then Yahoo, where he oversaw the company's pioneering recommendation programs. Jasjeet shared his memories of the industry's early days, how he is building an all-in-one pipeline for home sales, and why new engineers need to balance academic achievement with practical experience.
San Diego Supercomputer Center makes high performance computing resources available to researchers via a "condo cluster" model. Many homebuyers have found that the most affordable path to homeownership leads to a condominium, in which the purchaser buys a piece of a much larger building. This same model is in play today in the high performance computing centers at many universities. Under this "condo cluster" model, faculty researchers buy a piece of a much larger HPC system. In a common scenario, researchers use equipment purchase funds from grants or other funding sources to buy compute nodes that are added to the cluster.
Sweeping changes to England's planning system will "cut red tape, but not standards," Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has said. Under draft new laws, first revealed on Sunday, developers will be granted "automatic" permission to build homes and schools on sites for "growth". It follows Boris Johnson's pledge to "build back better" after coronavirus. But critics warn it could lead to "bad-quality housing" and loss of local control over development. Mr Johnson promised to speed up investment into homes and infrastructure in June to help the UK recover from the economic impact of coronavirus.