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    Since the public introduction of the personal computer in the early 1980’s and the World Wide Web in the mid 90’s, the power of networked computing has become so embedded in our lives and culture that we tend to think of it as a utility — like a electricity or running water.

    The birth of Siri, Apple’s voice-enabled personal assistant, introduced voice command artificial intelligence on the iPhone 4S in 2011. Then, in 2014, with Siri, Google Assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Samsung’s Bixby playing catch-up, Amazon introduced Alexa, a smart speaker that enabled hands-free access to the internet.

    Suddenly, without a keyboard, mouse, or phone, you could search the web, order a pizza, hear your favorite song, and…find a home to buy?

    A New Tool for Realtors: Voice-Activated Personal Assistants

    The technological advances of the last 40 years have provided new tools for Realtors, and marketers in general. We’re able to reach our audience faster and more directly than ever before. And, while voice-activated personal assistants may not be able to find your buyers a new home yet, they can already assist in the search for one.

    • Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri can all be used to order office supplies, and control your building’s heat, air conditioning, lights, and other security devices.
    • Voice-enabled devices also offer updates on the weather, traffic, and inform you about important events on your calendar.
    • A company named Voiceterpro has introduced a number of real estate-related applications including “Real Estate Skill” for brokers and agents, “to reach tomorrow’s clients and customers by leveraging home artificial intelligence devices such as the Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Cortana-enabled computers.” VoiceterPro connects brokers and consumers in many markets across the country.
    • Another VoiceterPro product “My Home Value” provides prospective clients with the current value of their home and connects them with you.
    • With VoiceterPro’s “Concierge” service you can become your own branded Concierge on Amazon’s Alexa, allowing you to connect with new and closed clients who are looking for referrals for a repair or upgrade. Concierge lets you add or remove vendors whenever you like.
    • Amazon has more than 14 pages of real estate apps for Alexa. Just go to Amazon, select “Alexa Skills” in the search drop down and type “real estate.”
    • Consider bringing Alexa to open houses where potential homebuyers can ask the device for details about the schools, local businesses, and other amenities in the community in between playing quiet background music

    A Picture Worth a Thousand Words

    The website MarketingProfs posted an infographic — 106 Quick and Fascinating Facts: Voice Search Stats and Facts — that includes a timeline, usage stats, device comparisons, and more about voice-enabled devices. Check it out.

    With 34% of consumers using a voice-enabled device as of 2017 to find and contact a local business, and the fast proliferation of these devices in homes, this number is sure to rise fast. And, while Alexa is clearly in the lead, it won’t be long before Apple, Google, Microsoft, and others bring new applications and functionality that will enable Realtors to both market and assist their clients simply by asking.

    Times Change

    It may come as a surprise to anyone born after 1964, but in the early days of the computer revolution, the general public was afraid of this new technology. The fear that computerization would lead to a soulless society of robots and button-pushing bureaucrats was so widespread that IBM recognized early on they had a marketing problem which needed to be overcome.

    This fear was reinforced with the 1968 release of “2001: A Space Odyssey.” The film’s portrayal of rogue artificial intelligence by the HAL 9000 — a speech-enabled computer onboard the Discovery One spacecraft bound for Jupiter — further stoked those fears. The depiction that one day computers smarter than ourselves might enslave humankind suddenly seemed possible.

    Today that dire prediction is the topic of much debate. But, with few exceptions (Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking among them), artificial intelligence and voice-enabled devices aren’t going away.

    Who knows what voice-enabled real estate marketing innovations are yet to come?

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