RE­ALTY BYTES Alis­ter Maple-Brown

Poké­mon Go gave us a sneak peek into aug­mented re­al­ity, but the tech­nol­ogy still has a long way to go be­fore it will be adopted on a large scale, says Alis­ter Maple-Brown.

Elite Property Manager - - Contents - ALIS­TER MAPLE-BROWN is the CEO of Rock­end. For more in­for­ma­tion visit rock­

Thanks to Poké­mon Go, 2016 was the year the world paid at­ten­tion to aug­mented re­al­ity. Men, women and chil­dren rushed to down­load it to their smart­phones and started en­er­get­i­cally chas­ing Poké­mons down streets, through parks, into shop­ping cen­tres and across a myr­iad of other lo­ca­tions at all times of the day and night.

Us­ing geo-lo­ca­tion data, Poké­mon Go cre­ated an aug­mented re­al­ity for users. By de­liv­er­ing vir­tual el­e­ments as an over­lay to the real world, play­ers were able to in­ter­act with the game in a more mean­ing­ful way – and it was eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble from a de­vice we all carry around with us ev­ery day.

But be­yond catch­ing Poké­mons, what’s its use? How does it ap­ply to real es­tate?

Aug­mented re­al­ity is def­i­nitely start­ing to come of age as con­sumers look for more ef­fi­cient and vis­ually ex­cit­ing ways to ac­cess in­for­ma­tion about prop­er­ties. Whether on a smart­phone or a tablet, aug­mented re­al­ity al­lows real es­tate pro­fes­sion­als to show­case prop­er­ties from a 3D per­spec­tive. With the touch of a but­ton, peo­ple can vi­su­alise changes to a prop­erty by mod­i­fy­ing the colour of a wall or adding a piece of fur­ni­ture.

And then there’s vir­tual re­al­ity. Whereas aug­mented re­al­ity uses our cur­rent mo­bile de­vices to change how the real world and dig­i­tal images in­ter­act, vir­tual re­al­ity is usu­ally de­liv­ered to the user through a head-mounted de­vice.

We’ve all seen them, those clunky head­sets, and for the most part they’ve been viewed as a bit nerdy and geeky. But con­sider what they do. They en­able users to con­nect to a vir­tual re­al­ity – a dig­i­tal recre­ation of a real-life set­ting – and al­low them to con­trol and nav­i­gate their ac­tions in an en­vi­ron­ment meant to sim­u­late the real world.

There’s been buzz in the real es­tate in­dus­try about vir­tual re­al­ity for what seems like years. It’s the next ‘big thing’. It’s go­ing to rev­o­lu­tionise the in­spec­tion process. It’s a ‘must have’ for ev­ery in­te­grated mar­ket­ing cam­paign.

But de­spite all the hype, vir­tual re­al­ity is yet to be adopted on a large scale. While we’ve al­ready started to see a def­i­nite up­take of aug­mented re­al­ity tech­nol­ogy in our in­dus­try, when it comes to vir­tual re­al­ity tech­nol­ogy, not so much – yet.

Pre­dict­ing when con­sumers will adopt a new tech­nol­ogy en masse is in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult. It’s not enough to build some­thing new or cool. To reach a tip­ping point, the new tech­nol­ogy must be defini­tively bet­ter than ex­ist­ing choices – and it must be user-friendly and read­ily ac­ces­si­ble.

One of the main chal­lenges of tak­ing vir­tual re­al­ity main­stream lies in the dif­fi­culty of de­scrib­ing what ex­actly the ex­pe­ri­ence is like. Put sim­ply, vir­tual re­al­ity must be ex­pe­ri­enced; and while the price of vir­tual re­al­ity de­vices has come down in re­cent times, it’s still not pen­e­trated the con­sumer mar­ket in a mean­ing­ful way.

But re­mem­ber, while we all carry one to­day, smart­phones took al­most a decade to fully en­ter the mar­ket­place and be­come com­pletely in­te­grated with our ev­ery­day lives. And with com­pa­nies like Ap­ple, Google and Face­book in­vest­ing heav­ily in vir­tual re­al­ity and driv­ing de­vel­op­ment, there’s lit­tle doubt the tech­nol­ogy will be­come main­stream. It’s just a mat­ter of time. ■


Alis­ter Maple-Brown, CEO, Rock­end

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