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(VIDEO) Augmented reality and the future of real estate

Layar co-founder: Make virtual home tours more real

From sci-fi and fighter-jet roots, augmented reality, with the rise of smartphones, is finally ready to become a mainstream, everyday reality, said Claire Boonstra, co-founder of Layar, an augmented reality-focused company founded in 2009.

Among many features she spoke of during her 20-minute keynote address at Real Estate Connect New York 2012, Boonstra showed how augmented reality, the overlaying of digital information on real-world experiences, via a smartphone as windowglass, can display the 3-D, fleshed-out, finished product of an in-progess skeleton of a building on a smartphone screen.

The free Layar app, available on most smartphone and tablet platforms, including Android and iPhone, could be used to view a virtual home tour, explained Boonstra, triggered by a geotagged for-sale sign at a home.

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The app, which bypasses the need for QR codes, uses the smartphone’s camera, compass and GPS system to access reality-related augmented information.

For example, Layar allows users to scan a print listing with their phone and gain access to button-links that would lead to videos for the property and contact info for its real estate agent. The app has been downloaded onto more than 10 million smartphones around the world and has between 2 million and 3 million active users each month, said Boonstra.

The technology is in its infancy, said Boonstra, but she sees boundless room to grow: "There are no limits when reality is your canvas."

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