Alternative realities were all the rage at WebSummit, and it was interesting to see that various technologies were at different stages on the road to becoming mainstream. In a nutshell, virtual reality is on the cusp of becoming a breakout and big hitting technology whereas consumer augmented reality is some years, perhaps five or more, away from being as good as it needs to be.
Palmer Luckey, the schoolboyish founder of Oculus Rift (though very wealthy after selling himself to Facebook) was explaining that their product was set for release next year, and an ecosystem of developers creating for the Oculus platform is building rapidly. For real estate, fully virtual reality offers the prospect of deeply engaging, immersive experiences being possible. Product demos, marketing, planning and design could all make use of Oculus to finally move way beyond printed brochures. I chatted to a developer of roving, remote controlled camera dollies that were fitted with 360 degree multi lens cameras for easily creating virtual worlds. Think of your estate being virtually available around the world.
The problem with augmented reality is the interface. Google Glass worked very well but you looked slightly mad if you wore them. AR apps on your smartphone can be quite clever but are clunky to use. In reality, no one uses them. For now, save your money.
Video though is huge. YouTube traffic is vast and video works fantastically well on smartphones. As of today it is the best marketing, training, support tool at your disposal. Train your staff to use Periscope, Blab, Instagram etc – video works!