IKEA Place app allows you to virtually add furniture to an existing room and walk around it and view it to see if it works for you.

Last week, Adrienne wrote a post on our visit to the DIRTT offices here in Chicago. I wanted to look more deeply at augmented reality, or AR and mixed reality, also called MR. I think these two technologies will have a more significant impact than virtual reality, or VR. There are already some pretty cool apps out there for iPhone and Android with augmented capabilities built in. Today, we’ll look at what’s happening and talk about what’s possible with this space.

What is Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality?

The concepts of augmented reality and mixed reality have been around for years and, if you’ve ever watched almost any sport, you’ve witnessed them in action. For instance, in football, when you see the first down marker in yellow, the scrimmage line is in black and the yardage needed as well as time are overlaid on the screen, you are seeing augmented reality in action. It’s when information is overlaid on a true image of an environment.

Mixed reality is similar, but it includes a fixed point in space where the data is anchored. So, the data overlaid in that football game actually stays where the first down and scrimmage lines are and doesn’t move with the action focus of the camera. This type of augmented reality is most likely going to become prevalent in the real estate industry.

As far as specialized equipment goes, you don’t need much. Phones running modern operating systems today can fully realize these technologies. Apple and Google are doing a lot to make headway in this space.

What do I need to use Augmented Reality apps on my phone?

  • First, you need the latest operating systems from either Apple or Google.
    • iOS 11 or Android Oreo (8)
  • Models of phones matter too:
    • iPhone 7 and above
    • Varies for Android (S8, S8+, Pixel phones are sure bets)

Apple’s system, ARKit has garnered a lot of praise because of how simple it is to use for development. Google’s system ARCore is also getting some great praise.

Why does it matter to real estate?

Augmented reality and mixed reality will allow for the display of data in a different format. AR and MR will mean as you walk in an environment, you could have listing data about each part of the house displayed as you experience the house. So, the windows could ‘show’ you when they were installed, what their energy rating is, how many panes of glass there are and all sorts of other information.

It will also make it easier for you as an agent to work. You could add in place notes for the inspector to review (e.g. – there’s a crack by this window and it needs to be repaired stat.) You could also use your phone to measure rooms and get square footage for the space.

Some example apps

So, let’s show some examples. I’ve embedded a number of YouTube videos below to demonstrate how this works. First, let’s look at what this augmented environment looks like using a game. Here is an example of Minecraft with Apple’s ARKit:

Our friends at CleverFranke created a cool demo called EnARgy which shows you how much energy each one of your devices in your home is using. Pretty cool:

Let’s get to real estate applications. Here is an app called Housecraft from Sirvo. This app allows you to place furniture in an environment and resize it, but also allows you to walk around the furniture and experience it. This is an example of mixed reality:


Imagine if you will that using an app similar to Housecraft, you could take 3d renderings of YOUR OWN furniture and place them in a listing to see how the space works out for your stuff.

Another application was created by Realtor.com. It allows consumers to get the price for a property while walking along and pointing their phone’s camera at a property. Called Street Peak, this app is an interesting way to search and view listings as you are in the environment:

Next Steps

This is not a call for every brokerage to build an app using this technology. Look at what is out there and see how you can use it. It will be a couple of years before this space has some more penetration. What I recommend is get yourself familiar with this space and what people are doing. What we will see is a new type of display, so what does that mean for data standards? What does it mean for the consumer in the transaction as well as the agent? How will this streamline the process? How will it cause us to evolve? Leave your thoughts below.