Not just a game

In a recent article, Esri makes the case that AR technology is more than hype. After paying the usual attention on Pokémon Go, Niantic, and its acquisition of late last year, Esri argues that businesses have recognized the value of better location technology. These businesses are already using it “as a framework for organizing, processing, and analyzing geographic information.”

AR for intelligent real estate

The most intriguing example they give is from commercial real estate firm Cushman and Wakefield. The company’s PRISM is a GIS-based spatial computing app for iPads and other tablets. It uses location information to display different layers of information about a property.

If you’re a client in the legal or energy sector, for example, you’d use PRISM to zoom in on a specific building to get the feel for its location, pull up information on demographics, transportation options, and even the building layout, including which floors of the building are available for lease.

PRISM helps the broker to display potentially any pertinent information about the property, as long as it has been indexed by location.

AR x-ray specs for utilities

AR is also showing some promise in the utility space, where workers are using it to visualize the location of underground assets. In Toms River, NJ, for example, water utility workers are using HoloLens glasses to see 3D holographic representations of water pipes, telco lines, and other utilities.

This use case has obviously huge benefits. But don’t get too excited just yet, as there is still a huge problem getting good enough location data in the first place. At this time last year, the United States was spending an estimated $10 billion annually on locating underground infrastructure. As industry expert Geoff Zeiss notes, “this information is rarely shared, and the location of underground infrastructure is recaptured over and over again.”

In other words, we might have figured out the visualization, but the capture and data-handling side still needs a lot of attention before this use case becomes a reality.