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Airbnb Looking to Offer Virtual Tours of Properties, Other VR- and AR-Enabled Features

Airbnb, the world’s most popular home rentals website, is looking to incorporate technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality into improving user experience on its platform. The move is aimed at giving users a better look at the property that they are looking to book for their next trip as well as improving their experience during the stay.

The company is focused on the use of these technologies in two aspects – virtual reality before a trip and augmented reality during it. VR capabilities like 360 photos and 3D scans will allow users to step inside a home or city and understand what to expect, and how to orient themselves before they leave the comfort of their own home. Virtual reality, Airbnb claims in a blog post, could also allow guests to provide a look at destinations and properties in an improved manner.

Augmented reality will be used by Airbnb to make exploring newer destinations easier for the guests. AR capabilities will let the service provide contextual, timely information for users to navigate past cultural differences in an unexplored city. The use of augmented reality will also help guests connect to the city in a more immersive way.

“Just think how welcome, pulling up directions to the coffee mugs on a mobile device will be first thing in the morning. Or, instant translations on how to work that German thermostat,” Airbnb said in the post.

Airbnb says it is currently testing prototypes and has given no timeline when these features will be rolled out. Augmented reality is clearly gaining ground swiftly with tech giants like Google and Apple putting the technology onto their mobile platforms. Google recently added AR stickers to Android 8.1 on Pixel phones while Apple released ARKit with iOS 11 earlier this year. Google responded by launching ARCore for Android devices.

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