Assuming you’re willing to drive to a neighborhood that’s still under construction, touring a builder’s model home isn’t necessarily difficult — but it could be easier. That’s the vision behind Australian startup Third Aurora‘s new app Displai Homes, which uses augmented reality to place a life-sized version of a model home in any vacant lot you’re nearby, enabling you to visualize and tour the space without actually visiting it.
“All you need is a phone and a flat bit of ground,” explained Third Aurora managing director Dave Chaffey. “Consumers can literally walk through a multitude of virtual display homes from different builders, on their own block. They can see what they will see out the windows and know how many steps it is from the bedroom to the bathroom.”
The key to Displai’s “use it anywhere” appeal is that it’s based on AR rather than VR, relying on a smartphone screen rather than a headset to display the home. After pointing the app at an empty lot, users see the model home appear to sprout out of the ground, complete with furnishings, and can walk into the house or explore it from outside. The smartphone’s screen combines the virtual home with its actual surroundings, so you can peek out the front door and see how the street will look from there.
Displai’s rendering of model homes isn’t photorealistic — walls and objects tend to be flat-shaded rather than textured polygons — but the app provides users with enough detail to get a sense of how a home would look in a given space. Basic light and shadow details help the homes to look plausibly 3D, while the simple shading enables the app to run on “all recent phones.”
It remains to be seen whether homebuilders will support the app, but having the platform available is a good start. “There’s a feeling in the industry that those companies that introduce the technology early might see a real upswing,” said Chaffey. “Particularly volume builders, and builders looking to grow into new territories.”
The Displai app is available now in the Google Play Store. An iOS version is said to be available, but hasn’t yet popped up in the App Store.