An Australian start-up has launched a world-first augmented reality app that puts Apple’s exciting ARKit framework to use for a genuinely commercial purpose.
Realar Places, the creation of well-known tech entrepreneurs Dr Dan Swan and Keith Ahern, is the first fully operational AR sales tool exclusively for the property industry.
The app gives builders the ability to showcase off-the-plan houses by placing a virtual house in a real space for buyers to walk through and experience in life-sized 3D. It works on any flat surface where a model can be rendered.
Realar fuses the real-world environment and a 3D rendering of the prospective home, allowing users to view the layout, stroll through rooms and even look out the digital windows at the real view outside.
The app works for both single storey and double storey designs through a clever, virtual elevator that lets the user experience the upper level. Apartment layouts, rooms and balconies can also be viewed using Realar.
The app is compatible with Apple devices that use the ARKit framework and is available from the App Store. An android release using Google’s ARCore technology is planned for April.
Realar supports all common 3D model formats, including Filmbox (.fbx), through common authoring software such as 3DStudioMax, Unity 3D, Unreal, Revit and even Sketchup. The full set of supported formats includes Alembic (.abc), Wavefront Object (.obj), Polygon (.ply) and Standard Tessellation Language (.stl).
The app allows the dynamic upload of models by the user. In future, Realar will also integrate with CRM platforms and utilise GPS functionality.
Dr Swan said most augmented reality apps developed to date were largely for entertainment or “gimmicky” experimental uses with little real-world practicality.
“We were excited by the commercial opportunities augmented reality presents now that it is becoming more commonplace on consumer devices but also wanted to create something that would add real value for its users,” he said.
“Realar is a game-changer for the property industry. It helps builders, developers, architects and sales teams overcome a major barrier to off-the-plan sales, namely buyer baulking at trying to visualise their dream home on an empty block of dirt.
“Consumers are also looking for more practical ways to use AR with their smartphones and tablets without the need for clunky goggles and headsets that accompany virtual reality.”
Realar Places was “incubated” through Byron Bay-based co-working and innovation hub, StartInno Ventures.
Dr Swan has founded and led several successful technology start-ups and listed companies in the US, UK and Australia. Before the age of 30, he was part of a series of tech acquisitions including an IPO on the NASDAQ and the eventual purchase of Oracle.
Realar co-founder Keith Ahern is a seasoned entrepreneur with experience building companies from inception through to large annual revenues. He has worked in Fortune 500 businesses, as a virtual reality engineer at Netscape, and co-founded successful print to digital ad conversion business Oomph Digital Publishing.
Dr Swan said Realar would initially focus on the Australian market but had plans in place to quickly take the application to international markets.
“The United States and Britain are certain markets for us but there is no real limit to the exciting opportunities for growth and scale around the world,” he said.
Businesses can choose from a range of monthly pricing plans to suit the number of users and model uploads they require. For example, a starter plan is perfect for single building designs, home renovations and architects working with individual clients, while the top enterprise plan supports unlimited users and hundreds of home designs.