Augmented reality is the lesser known, more pragmatic sibling of virtual reality. Virtual reality (VR) is totally immersive. You put on a headset that creates a simulated environment that commits all your visual senses to that single experience, say, floating around on an iceberg in Antarctica. Facebook just debuted 360, video that takes footage of a full landscape, so it’s safe to expect it to rapidly become a household technology.
Augmented Reality (AR) is a blending of tangible visuals and virtual ones. Pokémon Go is a great example of AR, as you walk around you are still aware of your environment as it actually exists, but when you look down at your phone you are seeing virtual images generated on a screen. In short, AR is a mix of virtual reality and real life.
So, what does this have to do with real estate?
The current application of AR is best for developers who can show interested parties a 2-D blue print and then view it through a phone or tablet to make the same image 3-D. No matter how spectacular a future construction might be, a blueprint can be pretty underwhelming. When it’s seen through an AR simulation the property comes to life and viewers get a much better feel for how the finished product will look.
If you are an agent that deals in pre-fab homes, developments, and new constructions, AR is something that you need to be thinking about yesterday. AR technology is perfectly suited to this niche market, and to remain at the forefront you want to provide the most cutting-edge, immersive experience for all of your clients.
Currently, people are too preoccupied with how AR will change the showing of properties. The application that will matter most in the near future is how AR will affect a potential buyers home search.
AR is going to affect the purchasing experience for buyers very soon. Realtor.com is unveiling Street Peek™, an app that allows home buyers to frame up properties on their smart phone camera, and Augmented Reality will layer information over top of the image. So if a buyer sees a home for sale they simply square it up and view it through their screen. Asking price, bed and bathroom count, and the seller’s agent info will all pop up.
- Every agent needs to make sure that when AR disrupts the home buying experience, their information is readily available to the person or family that is using AR to find a home.
- Agents don’t need to worry about using AR for showing homes, unless they deal largely in new builds or prefab.
- Consider integrating AR into your signage. A potential homebuyer downloads an app that uses computer vison technology to read an invisible layer on your signage. When the app reads the layer you can choose what supplemental information you want to pop up, such as introductory videos, listing photos, and/or pricing.
- If you deal with a high percentage of millennials, you should make moves sooner than an agent that deals with older clientele.
The jury is still out on augmented reality. It is hard to say just how significant the impact will be, because the application is still a bit flawed. It can be a bit inconvenient for buyers to use the technology, the experience is not seamless—yet. That said, there is a ton of potential, and agents who are adept at integrating creative solutions can make a big splash with AR. The ground floor awaits. As far as agents in general though, it is important to be aware of, but far from essential.