Why Apple’s ARKit2 is Big for Real Estate

Craig Federighi from Apple on stage talking about shared experiences on ARKit2

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:

  1. New File Format
  2. Object Detection
  3. Shared AR Experience
  4. Measure App

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.

Object Detection

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.

Measure App

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.

Leave comments below.

The Toughest Phones, What People Really Think About Facebook, and More in Five for Wednesday

photograph of cracked smartphone screen

      1. Everyone drops their phone eventually, but if you’re chronically slippery-handed, find out which smartphones are the hardest to break.
      2. Facebook has had a rough couple of months. Mozilla asked 47,000 people what they thought about the company and their role in protecting themselves online. The results are really interesting, and there’s an interactive tool you can use to look at the results.
      3. Machine learning and artificial intelligence may be able to predict when arguments online are about to get nasty.
      4. Tech companies have been selling facial-recognition systems to police departments, and it appears that at least one has implemented real-time analysis from cameras positioned in their city.
      5. Tread lightly with this one: PassProtect is a Chrome browser plug-in that will tell you how many times a password has been exposed in a data breach. PassProtect’s maker says it safe, but we’d probably use it at first just to see how many people really use “qwerty” or “letmein” as their passwords.

Test Your Knowledge of Browser Privacy; The Amazing Benefits of Green Roofs; More in Five for Wednesday

illustration of someone incognito, with shadows and gradients

      1. Take a brief survey to find out how much you know (or don’t know) about Web browsers and their private modes. Misconceptions are apparently “significant.”
      2. And while you’re at it, review the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Surveillance Self-Defense Toolkit.
      3. New York City’s ginormous Javits Convention Center has a 6.75 acre green roof that reduces energy consumption and has saved the owners millions of dollars. There really need to be more of these in our cities.
      4. We’re several years into the smart watch lifecycle, and because of their size, watches and other wearables are still difficult to control. We’re betting we’ll see more projects like this, which turns your arm into a touchscreen.
      5. Pinterest is doing some amazing design and user experience work to make their services more accessible to those with visual impairments. Improved UX for all users isn’t just a good idea, it’s good business.

Warranty Stickers Don’t Mean Anything; Fire-Detecting Wallpaper; More in Five for Wednesday

Welcome to Five for Wednesday, CRT Labs’ long-running (since March 2014!) series of curated tech stories.

 

illustration of peeling off a sticker

 

      1. Those “warranty void if removed” stickers on your computers and other possessions don’t mean a thing, according to the FCC. The upshot’s not merely aesthetic: the FCC is reminding all of us that manufacturers cannot put repair restrictions on their products.
      2. Wallpaper that contains nanowires made from two substances can detect if your house is on fire. Wow.
      3. Lots of buyers choose to buy a particular house because of the near-by amenities. This company thinks locally sourced, year-round fresh produce is one of those amenities. (This author happens to agree.)
      4. Just because we carry miniature computers in our pockets doesn’t mean we sometimes don’t need to get into our home computers from afar. Here are three of the best ways to access a computer remotely.
      5. Google Pixel phones will soon be able to send spam calls to voicemail. (Other Android devices can already do this.) Find out more here.

What You Need to Know About Vintage LED Lightbulbs, Changes to Google Search, and More in Five for Wednesday

Welcome to Five for Wednesday, CRT Labs’ long-running (since March 2014!) series of curated tech stories.

 

a photograph of an LED lightbulbs with vintage aesthetics

 

      1. CNET has a nice roundup of modern (LED) lightbulbs that sport an older aesthetic (including some information on how they work in smart homes).
      2. If you’ve been dragging your feet making your web site mobile-friendly, Google is not-so-subtly reminding you to do so: they’ve begun indexing and ranking pages based on the mobile versions of web sites.
      3. If you’re worried about what you’ve heard recently about Facebook and their use of your data (but want to keep using Facebook), check out Firefox’s new browser extension. Here’s a nice summary of it, as well as information from Mozilla itself.
      4. Here’s another twist on the autonomous vehicle revolution: what if it weren’t a computer and the cloud that was in charge of driving, but a human driving a simulation of the car you’re in?
      5. Check out these augmented reality postage stamps: view the illustration of an historic building with your smartphone, and see a 3D model of it. And now imagine how cool it would be if the postcards you send prospective clients did the same thing.

DIRTT – Doing It Right This Time

We investigate all sorts of real estate technologies here in CRT Labs, and recently we were able to stop by the Chicago offices of DIRTT Environmental Solutions. DIRTT, an acronym meaning “Doing It Right This Time,” is a company that is trying to revolutionize how we solve interior environmental solutions. DIRTT’s sophisticated technology turns 2D architectural drawings into 3D models as well as AR/VR landscapes, allowing clients to really visualize themselves in their newly designed spaces.

Before we check out DIRTT’s technology (presented in a Facebook Live Office Hours tour of their Chicago space), let’s talk a bit about AR, VR, and what they bring to the real estate field. First, we need to define the terms and talk about how they are the same – and how they are different. Augmented Reality (AR) is a live view (usually through a phone) of the world around you with overlays of digital information. This can take many forms, from the playful way Pokémon Go uses the phone camera to allow you to “catch” Pokémon in the real world, or in a more serious way through digital information displayed about a location while you’re there. Think of the second example as a digital visual version of the old school museum tour headsets you might rent while you’re at an art gallery. In real estate, AR can be used to not only enhance interior and exterior design choices in the building and remodeling process, but offers a fresh way to display listing information while at the home itself. There are dozens of applications for augmented real estate-specific apps (as showcased late last year in the New York Times), with more popping up every day. Augmented reality apps could become vital to the real estate market, especially as computer rendering techniques begin to get more sophisticated and start to look more like “real” furniture. Virtual reality (VR), unlike its augmented counterpart, creates (and/or recreates) entire environments with completely digital techniques. It often requires specialized hardware, which has grown and changed over the past two decades. Recently, a company called Oculus has become the frontrunner in the space, most notably due to their acquisition by Facebook. VR’s main output has been in the video gaming sphere, but just like augmented reality, the possibilities for real estate are currently endless, especially in the design/construction fields. Having a hard time envisioning a space after a remodel? Strap on an Oculus Rift and immerse yourself in the redesign.

VR and AR are very similar – and can even work together, as seen in our Facebook Live at DIRTT. Using augmented reality’s focus on overlapping information over real world images, and VR’s creation of entire environments, DIRTT is rethinking how we look at the built environment. To learn more about how AR/VR blend together at DIRTT, check out our Facebook Live Office Hours below.

CRT Labs Office Hours: DIRTT from CRTLabs on Vimeo.

To find out more about companies making waves in real estate technology, like our Facebook page and stay tuned for more Facebook Live Office Hours. Is there a tech company you’d be interested in learning more about? Contact us and let us know about them – and we might even feature them on a future Facebook Live!