Innovation helps society move from where it is to where it could be. Many products can benefit from innovative design and improve life in small ways.

There's even innovation in how houses are built, like paper models. One of the big areas of advancement has been in tiny houses. The latest examples are the high tech small houses shown at SXSW from Kasita, a Texas company headed by Jeff Wilson, a former professor with a background in environmental science, public health, and industrial distribution.

The design is informed by Wilson's experience living in a 33-square-foot dumpster for a year. Sleek design is married with an intense consideration of how to maximize useable space in 352 square feet and the latest in home automation technology to create pre-fabricated units that can fit into a racking structure to increase occupation density.

The price is $139,000, which doesn't seem inexpensive until you realize what it includes: washer/dryer, refrigerator/freezer, induction cooktop, microwave, garbage disposal, heat pump, bathroom fixtures and shower, bed frame with queen-sized mattress, sofa, sound system, Nest thermostat and CO/smoke detector, Amazon Dot voice control, and doorbell and camera.

It's ready to move into, though clearly doesn't include the land, installation, local permitting, and utilities. However, $139,000 is still a steep price for many. Luckily, the innovation in tiny housing doesn't begin and end with Kasita. Other companies have looked at ways to change the concept and footprint of living, typically on a trailer or wheeled base so the building can be brought to where you want. Here are some examples.

  • Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses: They design and build houses that fit on trailers. The entry level is a $25,000 unit that is a tiny log cabin on wheels.
  • EcoCabins: This modular home builder has some tiny home models that start at $54,900.
  • WHEELHAUS: Another modular home builder that has models running from 160 sq. ft. to 240 sq. ft. with prices starting at $58,000.
  • DublDom: The Russian manufacturer looks to expand sales into the U.S. and Europe. Sizes start at 280 sq. ft. with a base price of about $22,350, including furniture, fixtures, and equipment, and go up in a day.
  • Hivehaus: The U.K. builder makes use of a modular hexagonal unit design, with a given house including a number of the roughly 100 sq. ft. cells. One cell starts at $17,182, with per-cell prices dropping. (A three-cell model is about $46,303.) Prices don't include furnishings, plumbing, and so on.