At the low end of the scale, the changes may be most significant: There is a new market developing to serve 200 million households in slums in emerging markets, based on a 2014 report by McKinsey & Co.
For instance, in Pune, India, where the population density is seven times higher than in Manhattan, at 194,000 people per square kilometer, developers are building apartments between 396 and 794 square feet that sell for RS 10-25 Lakh, or $10,000–$25,000. Spurred by the government's push to make affordable housing a priority, a growing number of developers and private equity firms are entering the market, including Janaadhar Infrastructure and Poddar Developers. India has a shortage of 18 million urban housing units.
"Technology is a game changer for this," said Jonathan Woetzel, senior partner at McKinsey Global Institute. "Technology creates a set of solutions that we didn't have before. It will make housing cheaper and land use better."
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The construction industry is ripe for disruption. While productivity has surged in other industries, including manufacturing, it's been flat in construction for more than a decade, at $65,000 a year per worker, according to McKinsey.
Whether the market and the industry develop fast enough to meet the needs is another question: Some 65 million people a year are moving into cities, Woetzel pointed out. Here are some of the new technologies driving the changes.