Augmented reality (AR) is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. In AR, physical space is overlaid with virtual data.
It is related to a more general concept called Mediated Reality, in which a view of reality is modified, possibly even diminished rather than augmented by a computer. As a result, technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality.
AR isn’t traditionally related to PropTech as it is mostly linked to the gaming and entertainment industry, however many ConTech start-ups are basing part of their offering on this technology.
Most AR applications currently work on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, but smart glasses and other hands-free devices are increasingly replacing them.
The boundaries between virtual and physical reality are fading through these new digital experiences. In the real estate industry, this emerging technology has proven to be relevant for several use cases.
Real estate marketing is a straightforward use case, it is used both in the development process of the property and to perform virtual tours. Beyond traditional marketing, 3D models are already being used today which provide better interaction and understanding of the desired property to the end-user.
Forward-looking property developers use augmented reality to reduce their planning risk as the end product becomes visible and understandable to potential customers. During the construction of a building, linking data from building information modeling can identify and avoid problems at an early stage.
Regarding Facility and Property Management, tasks can be handled more safely and efficiently with the help of smart glasses and hands-free tablets. It also creates a rich content documenting the maintenance and repairs throughout the lifecycle of a specific property.
On the commercial real estate side, stationary retailers could gain an edge over the online platforms through AR adoption. For example, customers in the store could get more valuable information about the product by being able to compare and see customers review, linking in this way, the opportunities of the virtual world with the physical interaction of the product to enhance the shopping experience.
Identity matching can also provide an even better understanding of consumer buying behaviour to tailor individual offers. Hence, AR is particularly suited to stationary retailing.
Nevertheless, AR is reduced only to the sense of sight. Additional applications that appeal to other senses might be developed. For real estate, some fast-generated reports and Data Visualisation displayed through AR and based on M2M data might be relevant to inform people living in the city and provide appropriate educational content.
PropTech has reframed operational capacities in construction, in maintenance and the sales of property. In legacy models, one of the long-overlooked areas was the post-construction phase of the asset lifecycle, but technology is now aiding the traction of solutions which are transforming these aspects. AR could become one of these prominent aspects.