Screenshot taken from Apple WWDC event by Chad Curry.
Note: For an overview of augmented reality/mixed reality and virtual reality, read our post here.
On Monday, Apple kicked off it’s annual WWDC and it was full of less flash and shiny objects than in the past. What it did have were some very interesting announcements around their software, especially their augmented reality software, called ARKit.
Real estate stands to be greatly impacted by augmented reality.
Imagine the following scenarios:
Bring virtual representations of your furniture with you to a showing of a home and stage each room to see how this new place could look with your furniture.
Listing details for the home could show up as you walk through a property. Information about how new the flooring or tile is shows up when you point your camera at it.
From your phone, you could see the distance and direction to work, school, parks or other locations as you stand in a property.
Measure all aspects of the space with your phone and have actionable measurements before you move in.
With ARKit2 we are closer than ever to making that a possibility.
ARKit is the development framework for building augmented/mixed reality apps. It makes it easier to just build and get results. There were four changes that are key to AR becoming more prevalent in real estate applications:
New File Format
Shared AR Experience
New File Format
This one is most exciting to me. The new file format called USDZ (Universal Scene Description) was developed by Pixar and allows for you to build assets and use them in various apps. You can send and share these assets and they can be used with anyone using an iDevice. Now, if you’re using Android, you might feel like I’m forgetting about you. I’m not. I anticipate this coming to the Android platform shortly. The reason I’m optimistic is because tools like Adobe’s Creative Cloud Suite are supporting this format.
This new file format means you can share AR objects with other apps and users. So, in the future, I could take a pic of my couch and render it as an AR object, and send it along to my wife who wants to see how it looks in a house we are looking at. We could even try out new furntiure.
ARKit2 can detect and allow you to virtually interact with real objects. Lego gave a demo with one of their Lego sets and how it can be detected to create an augmented reality experience:
What’s cool about this is that a specific object could be used to initiate a program or app. For example, I bring a vase from my house that I’ve set as an object to use for this app, set it in the middle of a room in the house, point my camera at it and all my living room furniture appears on my screen placed throughout the room.
Shared AR Experience
This is what makes ARKit2 a big possibility in real estate. Shared experiences let you interact with other users in a virtual/augmented plane. In the video above, the two guys from Lego are interacting in a game. But in real estate. what if you and your partner could interact in a house with our furniture as a team and move things around in the room and make sure it looks how we want it? Having shared experiences means that doing a virtual, real-time staging using your own furniture helps you as a buyer and the REALTOR understand how this house could work.
The Measure app is deceptively simple. It allows you to take measurements of objects easily. The trick it plays is that it can measure 3D objects rather simply. In the demo below, you’ll see Craig Federighi from Apple point his camera at a few things and dimensions just appear. Imagine what this means for trying to figure out how to shop for your home:
Having this functionality built right into the phone serves the purpose of giving you a practical tool on your phone. But I believe it’s being built for the future. As it’s learning to create these dimensions and do so accurately, it will make it easier to capture 3D renderings of real world objects and import them into the phone.
There are already some pretty cool apps out there that do some of these things, but the fact that Apple has now integrated all of these features under one system makes it extremely powerful. How else can you see this being useful in real estate? Next we will look at ARCore from Google to give you a sense of what’s to come on the Android side.
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:
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.