In its latest Global Cities 2015 report, real estate firm Knight Frank has highlighted five technologies that will likely change the property sector.
It is remarkable to think that just five years ago no one owned an iPad (launched in April 2010), illustrating how quickly new technology becomes taken for granted today.
This is an example of a technological advance that has accelerated changes in how we work, shop and spend leisure time, with implications for commercial real estate. Some, who previously shopped regularly for books, CDs, DVDs, and video games, now access all these products through their tablet computer.
This has contributed to a reshaping of retail property, and sparked a wave of office-based start-ups that produce apps. Similarly, the popularity of e-shopping has buoyed demand for warehouses. New technology undoubtedly impacts the property market, raising the question, where will change come from next.
Development has begun on telepresence robots, whereby a remote worker can log into a droid, traverse the office, see what is occurring, and speak to colleagues. Cleaning robots at home have already taken off. An office service robot that cleans, reloads printers, and performs basic security duties, could be a future extension of this technology. Future office buildings may need storage, recharge and service areas for these droids.
The internet of things
This is where everyday appliances are connected to the internet, so they can be controlled remotely or intelligently monitor how we use the device. For instance, a fridge could monitor its contents, and send the homeowner a suggested shopping list to his mobile phone with a ‘buy’ button. This would add momentum to the rise of e-retail, increasing demand for logistics property. Internet-linked machinery could also result in smart office buildings that partially manage themselves.
When Amazon rolled out plans to deliver small goods by drone helicopters there was initially a sceptical reaction. However, other firms quickly announced they too were testing drone delivery. In the future, logistics properties may come to resemble mini-airports, as drones come and go. EasyJet, the airline, has plans for its maintenance crews to use drones for aircraft inspection. Similarly, the property industry could use drones to inspect buildings.
A computer driven car, using wi-fi to communicate with other vehicles and receive traffic reports, should improve traffic flow and speed up commuting. The result will be a better quality of life in office districts, as efficient traffic movement allows more streets to be pedestrianized, improving public areas and passing trade for retailers. The city will become a more pleasurable experience encouraging people to work, live and shop there.
3-D printers are being used more often for producing components, but those parts then need to be assembled into a working product, which will require quality control testing. This requires a factory. However, in R&D and specialist manufacturing, 3-D printing is having an impact, bringing down costs on short production runs. Consequently, we could see a wave of ‘start-up’ manufacturers offering bespoke or specialist goods, generating more demand for light industrial units.
By Andrew Batt, International Group Editor of PropertyGuru Group.
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