I loved sci-fi as a boy. Even though I hid behind the sofa when the Daleks appeared in Doctor Who, it always inspired excitement. Proptech is real estate’s sci-fi and, of this, augmented reality (AR) is particularly exciting.


Darren Williamson

AR is exploding: 600 million-plus active monthly users and growing, and it is only on phones at present. Glasses are next. Facebook has announced a partnership with Luxottica (owners of Ray Ban and Oakley) to launch smart glasses next year, and Apple will launch a pair in 2023. When these hit the high street, goodbye carbon world, hello digital sunrise.

The elephant in the room is what you can and cannot do with AR, and that rolls into the legal world. There are no specific regulations dealing with AR per se; there is no play book. Having the answers is not where we are; most of us have not even thought of the questions.

But here are some questions we need to ponder. If you own a building, how do you monitor what people are doing to it in the AR world? Do you care? If you do care, what can you do about it? If you rent a space in a building, can others put AR advertising over your windows?

Augmented reality

Source: Shutterstock/ HQuality

Can a landlord rent this space out in the virtual world, and if so, should a tenant be ensuring any virtual space is dealt with in the letting documents? How can building owners and tenants use AR to their advantage, and can it be monetised? These are just a few questions but there are many more.

Those who look to get ahead of these questions now will be those that benefit the most from such technology. It is important to be quick, as it is not going to be sci-fi for much longer….

Darren Williamson is national head of real estate at Freeths