Back in August, Coldwell Banker Real Estate launched what it says was the first-ever international home search application for iPhone and Android-powered devices. Since then it’s been “game on” with portals and agencies vying to get their iPhone and Android apps to the public.
Most of us a comfortable with the basic iPhone Apps, but what is Augmented Reality, and how are agents and portals using it?
According to Wikipedia, Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are merged with (or augmented by) virtual computer-generated imagery – creating a mixed reality. Basically, what you see through the camera in the iPhone or Android phone is supplemented by computer imagery and information.
One of the companies taking the AR world by storm is Layar, which has just released the Layar Reality Browser 2.0 (see below). The big news is that Layar is now available worldwide from the iTunes Store, which many think will lead to an explosion of apps and innovations.
Last week Fast Company Magazine mentioned trulia.com’s Layar augmented reality application as one of the Top 5 to watch. trulia.com’s app uses Layar’s Reality Browser to overlay listings on top of a Google phone’s camera view. Users can scan a neighbourhood’s available properties and even connect to the realtors.
And trulia.com is by no means the only portal involved in AR.
The Netherlands’ market leading property portal, funda.nl, has already partnered with Dutch mobile phone company SPRXmobile to be part of their new “augmented reality” mobile application. And the number two ranked property portal, jaap.nl, has released a free app for the Android market.
Over in France, meilleursagents.com has taken things one step further by releasing a mobile android application that displays the property value of every single building in Paris in price per square meter.
In Portugal casa.sapo.pt has just introduced Layar technology as well for the Android and iPhone markets.
The proof of AR’s potential will be when people – or consumers – really start using it. iPhones are already experiencing massive surges in users. Just this week Redfin revealed some interesting statistics about their iPhone traffic: iPhone traffic is now 10% of Redfin’s site traffic on the weekends.