The Real Deal New York

Tech Tchotchkes for brokers

August 01, 2003
By The Real Deal

You’ve already got the basic technology tools, but want more?

With technology moving at the speed of Moore’s Law (which posits that computing power doubles every 20 months), new high-tech products handy to a broker are hitting the market every day.

Among the new products, some are useful, some are fun, and some just plain gimmicky. The following is a partial list of what’s available and who’s using it:

Business card-sized CD-ROMs. Some brokers are handing out small CD-ROMs instead of the traditional business card. The cards usually contain biographical data and other information. “It’s a gimmicky thing,” said Kim Klever, director of strategic development at Douglas Elliman. Brokers into the latest technology are handing them out, but “some people are not tech-savvy enough to appreciate them,” she said.

Camera Cellular Phones. The latest trend in cell phones are ones that come equipped with cameras, which can send photos electronically. Charles Olson, chief technology officer for the Corcoran Group, said he could see the cameras being more widely used later on, but doesn’t know many people who are using them now to take photos of apartments for listings. “It might also be useful for brokers who are carrying around too many devices,” he said. Brokers being able to send photos instantly to the office is also a bonus, though usually it’s “not quite that urgent” to get a photo up on the company’s Web site, Olson said. Klever said she sees drawbacks in terms of the photo resolution afforded by most cameras. “Right now, they generally don’t have enough resolution to be of use,” she said. “But they’ll probably get better.”

Tablet PCs & Pen-Based Notebooks. Somewhat akin to a cross between a laptop and a PDA, they weigh in at three to four pounds, connect to the Internet wirelessly, and may or may not include a keyboard. Most offer advanced handwriting recognition capabilities that let you create, store, and transmit handwritten notes. But some users have difficulty in getting the handwriting recognition features up and running. Olson said, “they haven’t really been adopted.”

Laser Tape Measure. Some brokers view these tapeless measuring devices, which use a narrow ultrasonic beam to measure, as a convenient gadget. Just point the device at the wall, press a button, and instantly measure room dimensions.

Business Card Scanner. This tech tool extracts text from business cards and can export the data directly to e-mail or other programs. The drawback is that some scanners have trouble sorting out information into specified categories, so there is usually considerable editing to be done when the data comes up on the computer screen.

Keychain Flash Memory Drives. About the size of a pack of gum, they can be attached to a keychain ring or slipped in a wallet. The devices can store anywhere from 64 MB to 256 MB of data meaning plenty of photos, documents and Powerpoint presentations, which Klever notes are popular among brokers. Just plug it into a USB port on your computer and you’re ready to start copying.

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