Look out Pizza Hut, Benetton, and Kmartyou’ve got some smart phone competition. In September 2009, Highlands Ranch, Colo.-based UDR launched the multifamily industry’s first augmented reality (AR) apartment search application. Powered by Layar browser technology, AR uses the smart phone’s built-in spatial awareness, including GPS, to superimpose digital information over what is viewed through the camera’s viewfinder. UDR’s AR app thus enables users to point their smart phone in any direction to locate and view available apartments within a 10-mile radius.
So how hot is augmented reality? “Jupiter Research projects augmented reality in 2010 to generate approximately $2 million in unique advertising revenue,” explains UDR vice president of marketing Steve Taraborelli. “But by 2014, they project that will rise to $700 million in advertising revenue.”
At UDR, about 160,000 app users are expected through December 2010, matching how many total unique visitors the UDR.com website received in the full 2003 calendar year. Development costs were minimal, too, and included a $10,000 upfront application investment and an internally produced how-to video posted to YouTube. The result is a cost-per-visit of only $0.08 compared to Google AdWords advertising that costs up to $3. And while uptick is slow (the app contributed to 97 UDR mobile leases in 2009), industry confidence in the technology remains high.