Augmented and Virtual Reality for Real Estate

Craig Grant
By Craig Grant

Recent developments have reduced the costs of this technology so that what was once only the pipe dream of nerds and geeks has become much more readily available and is rapidly reshaping the marketplace.

What are augmented and virtual reality?

Augmented reality is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view. Virtual reality is computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors. For some time, augmented and virtual reality have been the pipe dream of every technologist with an interest in interactive and simulated imagery.

What has kept these “realities” from becoming widely available in the past?

Although both virtual reality and augmented reality have been around for a while, they have not been widely available because of cost. Nonetheless, rumors and predictions have persisted that they were about to revolutionize every aspect of our lives and of the real estate industry. A few years ago, these predictions were premature because the costs of both still were extremely high; and even if they had become widely available and more affordable, there weren’t enough consumers with devices that were able to use them.

What has changed? Why are they important now?

Each year the computing power and storage costs kept coming down and the technology in this area kept getting better. And over the past couple of years, four major players—Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft—have invested billions of dollars to create the infrastructure necessary to enable augmented and virtual reality to work on their platforms. As a result, the costs associated with developing augmented and virtual reality products have come down considerably. Lower development costs have made it possible for the rest of the technology world to pursue and build products that use augmented and virtual reality relatively inexpensively. Over the past year or two, there has been an explosion of apps, headsets, software, and tools catering to this sector.

Specifically, what will be the impact of Apple’s iOS 11?

Augmented and virtual reality have been available on Android devices for a few years; however, only a few phone models took advantage of them and supported them, so their impact was minimal. The recent launch of Apple’s iOS 11, which will bring augmented and virtual reality services to millions of Apple devices (both iPhones and iPads), is expected to have major implications. Augmented and virtual reality are no longer solely the interests of a few. They are going mainstream and becoming available to the masses.

How will augmented and virtual reality impact the real estate industry?

The impact of augmented and virtual reality on the real estate industry will be immediate, large, and positive. They will reshape how REALTORS® market and sell their properties, how their customers shop and consume real estate, and much, much more.

What companies and tools are at the forefront of this market revolution?

Among the companies and tools at the forefront of this exciting market revolution are the following:

  • Matterport. Its custom camera and software platform provides a completely immersive and three-dimensional experience so that users feel as if they can move around naturally and truly experience the property being viewed.
  • Oculus. Obtained by Facebook in 2014, this company is at the forefront of the virtual reality headset pack with its groundbreaking Rift and Arena lines.
  • Virtual Xperience and Transported. These cutting-edge digital marketing firms have focused on the real estate industry.
  • MultiTaction. This company has made incredible progress in developing highly credible interactive display interface screens.
  • MagicPlan. This app allows you to use a virtual reality to dynamically measure rooms and spaces and even create dynamic floorplans.
  • roOomy and VisualStager. These apps enable you to use augmented reality to virtually stage rooms with furniture and decorations.
  • Lowe’s, Sherman Williams, and IKEA. These home-improvement retailers have leveraged augmented reality to enable consumers to reimagine a space by virtually staging furniture and decorations, changing flooring and wall colors, and more.

As the result of recent developments in technology, the apps and devices needed to transform augmented and virtual reality from playful fantasy to useful and profitable reality are becoming readily available. Real estate professionals need to become acquainted with these products and be prepared to implement them effectively in their businesses and their daily lives.

Craig Grant grew up loving the Internet and the related technology. After graduating from the University of Florida, he spent nearly a decade as the regional manager and corporate trainer for the New York Times Regional Media Group. Then, he created the Real Estate Technology Institute (RETI) and EasyRealtySites, two companies whose focus is on presenting classes that help today’s REALTORS® adapt and use all facets of technology—including the Internet, websites, social media, and more—in their businesses and their daily lives.