As humanity evolves and technology grows, people are presented with more and more things that make life easier, more efficient, and just plain cool. Businesses have been reaping the benefits of technology for a long time, especially in the real estate market. The internet has opened tons of doors for folks in the real estate business- first it was advertising, then it was online listings, and then it was virtual tours. Each of these technological advances made houses easier to get noticed and then get sold, making homeowners happy and real estate agents happier.
Today, humanity gets to see the dawn of an even better piece of technology for the real estate market- augmented reality. Augmented reality is defined as “a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real- world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.” Augmented reality will let future homebuyers walk through a house they’re interested in purchasing, even one that hasn’t been built yet.
One early use of augmented reality was to make 3D images pop up out of pages in magazines or brochures. When it was first introduced, augmented reality was called “gimmicky”. It seemed to serve no real purpose other than wowing people with its cool 3D technology.
Today, though, the “reality” is quite different. You simply boot up an app on your smartphone or tablet and select the property (current or future) that you want to check out. Holding up the phone and moving it around will create a window into the property, allowing you to virtually walk around it and check out everything, including where you can put your furniture, what color you want to paint the walls, etc. You can even discover new properties by just walking down the street, pointing your smartphone camera at a house for sale, and seeing real-time stats such as asking price, for-sale status, contact information, even pictures or tours of the interior.
This is great if you’re travelling to a new city and want to tour homes at your own pace without the hassle of a real-estate agent. Once you compile a list of all the houses you’re interested in (which will be much smaller than normal, given the wealth of information you are provided with), you can call an agent and see the property physically. If an agent suggests a home that you might like, you can simply pull up the information on your phone and see if it really matches up to your expectations. If not- good! You don’t have to waste a trip and feign interest as you walk around the interior of a less-than-stellar home.
Multiple companies offer augmented reality apps specifically for real-estate, such as Layar and Junaio.
Layar’s app works for much more than just real-estate. Wherever you point your cellphone camera, you are able to see a number of different colored icons superimposed over your real-time view, each one of them corresponding to a different category. You can find the locations of restaurants, ATMs, clubs, and of course- houses for sale.
Junaio works similarly, but is mainly used for commercial real estate. Simply loading the app and pointing your camera at a building will show you whether or not said building has any available office space – if it does, you simply click on the icon and are taken to the listing for the office space, where you are provided with the price and square footage, as well as the name and phone number of the appropriate real estate agent.
So what is the future of augmented reality? Where will this technology take us? Well, you can’t really talk about augmented reality without mentioning Google’s “Project Glass”. A totally revolutionary piece of technology, Project Glass brings sci-fi movies to life. The device is a pair of glasses that transmits images directly in front of the wearers face, allowing them to see the real world with digital overlays. What does this mean for consumers? Well, the demo video of Project Glass is certainly very promising. It shows a first person view of a regular guy going through his day, checking messages, video chatting, even using turn-by-turn directions… on foot.
As real estate is already a big part of augmented reality, you can probably expect to see a function in Project Glass that provides similar information to Layar’s current app- allowing you to see updated statistics on homes in your immediate area. Augmented reality certainly has a bright future, as does the real estate market. You could say that the two go hand in hand… which, really, they do. There’s no better way to shop for property than to do it right in the palm of your hand. Wherever you are, you can get access to hundreds of thousands of buildings and properties worldwide.