AR exploration for student accommodation
BY CATHERINE HOPKINS
Property and accommodation photos can warp a buyers perception of what they’re going to be walking into. Disappointment can occur when the property looks much different then expected. Looking specifically at student accommodation, we wanted to create a more valuable way for students to find and select their new homes using AR technology. Creating a more immersive and accessible experience for students.
Why invest in AR?
Traditional forms of advertising just aren’t as effective anymore and are limited with end-user interaction. An audience that has grown up in a digital age have a much higher standard of what that technology can do for them. Product visualisation and experience are what adds value to sales and marketing. AR offers more accountability, better interactions, and quantifiable ROI. In an IDC case study, 65% of respondents said that they’d seen a clear return on investment when it comes to AR for sales. More than half of them said this was down to customers being able to better visualise products and cut down on travel costs.
Drawbacks to AR are mainly over the initial buy-in price and a low adoption rate. However, after the catalyst that was Pokemon Go and the introduction of ARkit and ARCore, AR is more accessible than ever. There are as many as 900 million smartphones and tablets capable of supporting augmented reality apps now. With the potential for that number to grow to more than three billion by 2021.
How AR can be used
When 84% of people want to see video footage before buying a home, and 77% want the ability to be able to take virtual reality house tour before actually visiting prospective homes. Here’s a couple of examples how AR is being used within real estate to bring a new dimension to house viewings.
Realar Places combines the real-world and digital 3D renderings of prospective homes. With the app, users can view the layout, walk through rooms and even look out the digital windows at the real view outside. Agents and developers are able to better showcase the potential of an unfinished space with Realar. By providing a full room by room experience, this can present a desired lifestyle to prospective buyers. Although accessible on a mobile phone, this app is focused on life size models. Needing a wide open space is needed to be immersed in the experience, and this wouldn’t work for everyone. For a student looking at accommodation this wouldn’t be ideal. But the point of getting a real picture of space and having the interaction to explore would bring value.
Commercial Real Estate have an app that features an AR view to allow office seekers to explore office buildings around them. Learning key information, including amenities, tenant industries and vacancies, about the commercial properties physically surrounding the user. Head of Product at Commercial Real Estate, Maty Paul, discusses that two themes in AR are geo-location and image detection. While the real estate industry is all about location and appearances, making the technology a natural fit. This idea could be worth exploring for student accommodation. Within a city, you can see where student accommodation is being built, it’s advertised around the building and usually will say when it’s ready. That is a perfect hotspot opportunity for a future student passing by to collect the information they need right then and there.
Helping Students find their accommodation
Our AR prototype is focused on student’s looking and applying for accommodation. Newcastle University supply online and paper materials about the accommodation available to students. However, getting a real picture of room sizing can be difficult from still photos.
Our idea is designed around an illustrated map in a Newcastle University brochure. Information of walking distances, where the campus is, accommodation locations as well as public transport and landmarks are on the map. The map could be transformed into a full 3D world to move around in. However, for this quick prototype, we are using the brochure page and highlighting the accommodation spots. When tapped, a card would be brought up informing the user of the name and type of the accommodation, along with what room options are available. Clicking through to a room option would reveal a 3D interactive floor plan for users to explore. Additional information could be displayed like what amenities are included in the room and what are the dimensions. From there, a student can conveniently apply for the room all in app.
Offering AR like this is not only a more stimulating experience than flicking through a brochure, it benefits the user. It can save students from paying high price travel to come and view the room in person and it offers a stress free way to apply for a room. For Universities, it creates more engaging content for their audience. Gen Z is the only generation to have grown up in a mobile world. Learning technology comes naturally to this generation. So it is imperative for universities and colleges alike to stay up to date with their marketing materials to appeal to their future students.
We help teams across the UK deliver successful digital projects. If you’d like to have a conversation with us, we’ll put the kettle on.