When Pokémon Go hit the market a couple years ago, our imaginations were captured by a completely new way of interacting with the world — augmented reality (AR). Previously confined to IronMan’s suit, it gave us our first glimpse of the next big shift in technology. The game may have seemed like a fad, but it showed us how we could transform our mobile devices from passive appliances we use to disengage from the world, to tools that actively enhance our interactions with it.
Seamlessly blurring the lines between real and digital, AR will touch every industry in one way or another. Although Google stopped selling their AR eyewear, Glass, in 2015, they didn’t stop developing it. The company kept shipping an enterprise model to business customers and refining the package. Today, both Google and Apple, among others, are working on the next generation of the technology, which will be more than just a cartoon-shaped flash in the pan. Instead of simple images superimposed on the world, it will include complex animations, manual instructions, and even things like interactive objects – applications will only be limited by what we can imagine.
The interactive capabilities will create new ways for customers to interact with brands and allow businesses to rethink how they conduct manual tasks. “With Glass, AGCO managed to reduce production times by 25 percent, while DHL increased supply chain efficiency 15 percent. It’s also been a boon for healthcare professionals, reducing paperwork loads by over 20 percent and allowing doctors to spend 50 percent more time with patients.” Likewise, marketers will gain enormous freedom in their ability to influence consumers. In lieu of static banners, for example, they will be able to place promotions in places that make sense, like next to street signs showing directions to local food options, or even use different promotions for different people.
By now, the gears are probably already turning. AR will revolutionize how we advertise commercial real estate and how we demo and tour building spaces. This is what you need to know:
- It’s happening now: The technology to do it is here, and internet-connected wearables only make it more appealing. The market is expected to double by 2022, which will include growing shares of glasses. “Location-based augmented reality is something that’s going to go beyond just events, it’s going to become part of our daily lives,” said Neil Mandt, CEO of Mandt Media. “Users can get information, content and benefits directly from real estate assets, by using the device in their pocket.”
- Ads will appear on buildings: Look through a phone camera or smart glasses and they’ll be there. Buildings are big and have lots of flat surfaces, which are perfect for advertising. Unlike website banners, advertisers will be able to place material that takes in to account your tastes, location and what’s been capturing your attention. Building owners should think about how to secure digital rights to ensure unsavory content doesn’t cast a digital shadow over their properties, and competitors don’t showcase alternative options.
- Digital advertising is still advertising: A three-story banner might seem untenable for a downtown office building, but digital signage won’t look like a tacky highway billboard to casual passers-by. AR opens a new monetization channel for property owners, and new ways for tenants to attract business. Perhaps more importantly, without taking preemptive measures, advertising revenue will still change hands without real estate owners’ involvement.
The furor over Niantic’s Pokémon-hunting app may have faded quickly, but it showed how eager people are to change the way they use technology. AR is becoming a cornerstone of modern computing. The most popular digital trends of the last ten years have revolved around constant connectivity, discovering the world around us and helping more easily navigate it, and personalizing our experiences. AR does it all better than we have experienced before. As we see wearables gain greater market share, we can expect AR acceptance to rapidly accelerate.
A mentor, a real estate executive and a mom, Karen spends time all over the map. If she isn’t traveling, Karen is busy with everything from IREM to Virginia Tech’s Real Estate program. When she has a few minutes to spare, she considers it a personal mission to find new homes for all of Lucky Dog Animal Rescue’s four-legged companions. Keep up with Karen on social media @KarenJWhitt.