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Randy Thomas of Team Thomas at Murney Associates owns the 417 area code rights to Text My MLS. The service sends home listing information, including photos, via text message.
Randy Thomas of Team Thomas at Murney Associates owns the 417 area code rights to Text My MLS. The service sends home listing information, including photos, via text message.

High-tech crosses boundaries

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In the real estate realm, Randy Thomas thinks his crew – Team Thomas at Murney Associates – is abnormal, at least when it comes to using technology.

“About 90 percent of the business our group does is through the Internet,” he said.

And Thomas is adding new tools to his arsenal in order to navigate the digital marketplace.

About seven months ago, Thomas spent an undisclosed amount on 417 area code marketing rights for Houston, Tex.-based Text My MLS, a service that allows potential homebuyers the opportunity to request homes’ listing information, including photos, via text message.

“What we run into when we’re selling houses is that the sellers want to give instant information to the buyers,” Thomas said. “This way, that information goes straight to the buyer’s cell phone. They don’t have to wait until they’re in front of a computer.”

Agents who participate in Text My MLS provide a text number on their signs at available properties, said Thomas, who estimates that five text requests come in weekly for each of his listings. He also attributes at least three home sales directly to the text service.

So far, Thomas has signed on seven other agents – all from Murney – to use Text My MLS. He said there are several different plans, but the most popular is 10 reusable MLS codes for $99 a year.

Thomas’ team also uses a free iPhone app to get information to buyers quickly, he said, noting that users can draw a map over an area they’re interested in and find available homes within that range. Or, if they’re driving in a neighborhood they like, they can use the app and their phones’ global positioning systems to pull up nearby listings.

Thomas and his team aren’t the only businesspeople tapping into technology, as professionals in several industries are finding new ways to put it to work.

While this list is far from all-inclusive, here’s a quick peek at technology use in the Ozarks.

Legal applications
Technology is making work more efficient for attorney Frank Carnahan, shareholder at Carnahan Evans Cantwell & Brown PC.

Evans said he’s become the firm’s paperless guinea pig, using a Fujitsu ScanSnap to scan documents that would otherwise need to be filed.

While that may sound simple, it can actually save quite a bit of space, said Crista Hogan, executive director of the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association.

“Like a medical file, it can depend on how complicated the case is. One case can generate a file cabinet full of documents in and of itself,” she said.

While Carnahan knows he isn’t going to get away from using paper altogether, he said he’s trying.

“I’m going cold turkey,” he said. “Clients, I communicate with via e-mail and generate letters electronically.”

Carnahan also uses a Livescribe Smartpen to take notes. He jots down key words while the pen records interviews. The pens, which start at $149.95 for 2 gigabytes at www.livescribe.com, allow users to later go back, tap on a key word in their notes and listen to the recording from that point.

“The whole idea is that you can pay more attention to the client and spend less time taking notes,” Evans said.

Brad Holt, a paralegal at Strong Garner & Bauer PC, uses technology to help educate jurors. An Elmo document camera, a Wacom interactive tablet, and software programs, including trial software Sanction and office staples Power Point and Adobe, are tools he utilizes regularly, he said.

Using the Elmo and the tablet, a jury can see photos from an MRI and watch as expert witnesses point to the exact spot of an injury, for example, which is not unlike John Madden’s use of a telestrator during football commentaries, he said.

“It’s putting something up there for the jury to see and listen to,” Holt said. “When you have all your senses going, you have more chances to retain it.”

Target: methamphetamine makers
A new database is on its way to aid in the fight against methamphetamine, said Michael Boeger, chief of Missouri’s Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.

Boeger said the bureau is finalizing regulations and details for the database, which will help catch methamphetamine makers by identifying and tracking purchases of products that contain pseudoephedrine, an ingredient of meth, if someone tries to buy more than the legal amounts – 3.6 grams daily or 9 grams a month. The system, available through Louisville, Ky.-based Appriss Inc., will tell pharmacists whether a sale to an individual is approved.

“If a sale is denied, it will print out a confirmation number so the customer can call and find out why,” Boeger said, noting a purchase with stolen identification, or by someone under the age of 18, can also prompt a denial from the pharmacy.

Officers will be able to search the Appriss Web site, instead of going from pharmacy to pharmacy to check log books, and search sales by customer name, city or pharmacy, he said. In some cases, investigators will be notified of suspicious activity.

“It’s designed to catch certain things, like seven people are all trying to make a purchase, and according to their IDs, they all live in the same house and all have different last names,” Boeger said.

Once reporting practices are outlined and the regulations are approved and filed at the Secretary of State’s office, training for pharmacy and law enforcement staff will begin, and Appriss will tailor its database of pseudoephedrine product purchases to Missouri’s laws, Boeger added, noting that Appriss has a plan in place to have the database up and running within 90 days of approval.

Illumination
In just a few weeks, area drivers may be able to see new technology in motion, as Truck Sign Design/Wrap-Aholic! is preparing to launch Luma Brite, a product that can illuminate walls and vehicle wraps.

Luma Brite, which can use a vehicle battery, a standard outlet, solar power or be wired directly into a building, is about the thickness of a credit card and can last for 70,000 hours, said Jennifer Reisch, marketing and sales director for Truck Sign Design/Wrap-Aholic!

While it can be used to illuminate company logos and names on vehicles, Reisch said there are larger applications, too.

“If a dentist wanted a patient to relax before he came in, he could flip off the light and a running waterfall could appear on the wall,” she said.

By the end of July, Reisch said Truck Sign Design vehicles will be outfitted with Luma Brite, but the company already is taking orders. Prices vary based on the complexity of the design, she said, but in general, a wrapped vehicle with a 2 foot by 2 foot logo can be lit with a phosphorous border for between $800 to $1,000.[[In-content Ad]]

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