LG Electronics has created a smartphone that bends. The LG
G Flex is the first smartphone with a flexible screen, and has
just become available to AT&T, Sprint,
and T-Mobile customers, starting at
$600. (Wireless carriers offer a steep
discount with a contract.) The G Flex
features a 6-inch display and a slightly
curved screen at the top and bottom.
LG officials say the curved screen offers
better sound, voice, and picture clarity.
You can also bend it slightly without
cracking the screen. Smartphone manufacturers as a whole are
focusing on curvier devices. Samsung has launched its flexible
Galaxy Round phone in South Korea, while Apple was granted a
patent in 2013 for a curved display back, which has some tech
forecasters predicting curvier, more bendable shapes for future
Smith says bendable glass helps protect devices from shattering. “We [practitioners] take out our devices from our pockets about 80 times a day and are always dropping our phones,”
he says. “[Bendable glass] offers a way to keep the devices
looking the way they were built as well as some protection.”
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey
Could texting while
driving one day be safe?
Automakers are racing to
release the first publicly
available self-driving car.
Manufacturers such as Audi, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz,
Nissan, and BMW, among others, are testing the technology.
According to officials with Bosch, a global automotive supplier,
the company is about seven to 10 years away from having a fully
automatic powered car on the roads.
The implications for real estate? Instead of chauffeuring
clients to showings, the car will do it for you. That means you
can focus on your client instead of the road. The cars use
360-degree sensors without human intervention for accelerating, braking, maneuvering turns, and parking. Driverless
cars have been approved by lawmakers for experimentation in
several states, such as California, Nevada, and Florida.
Real estate pros aren’t the only ones hankering to use drones
professionally. Filmmakers, land surveyors, and farmers,
among others, are waiting for the green light. But everyone
may have to wait until next year when the Federal Aviation
Administration releases rules addressing safety and privacy
issues for commercial drone use (see page 9), although a
court has raised the question of whether it has the authority to enforce a ban until its rules are out. In the meantime,
several companies at CES were debuting cost-effective
advancements in drone technology.
For example, drone manufacturing company Parrot
offered a sneak peek at its upcoming MiniDrone, which can
be controlled by a smartphone or tablet to shoot photos and
video while flying up to 160 feet high. It also has wheels to
climb walls or move across ceilings. It is slated to debut later
this year, and while the price has not yet been announced,
it is expected to be cheaper than the company’s upgraded
$300 A.R. Drone. Also, global drone manufacturer DJI’s
Phantom 2 Vision, retailing for about $1,200, can snap
14-megapixel images and record high-definition video.
While NAR recommends that REALTORS® avoid using
drones until the FAA issues rules on commercial drone use,
as directed by Congress, next year, some practitioners are
taking their chances. Brandon Doyle, a sales associate with
Edina Realty in Maple Grove, Minn., has experimented with
using DJI’s F550 drone since October 2012. He said drones
will be particularly helpful for showing off high-acreage property. “It’s very difficult to show what 40 acres looks like in a
photo, but with a drone, you can get a feel for the topography
and where the boundaries are on a property,” he says.
©Brandon Doyle & Jeff Steeves, Edina Realty