Last year, my cofounder and I met with the innovative mayor of a small town in Europe to discuss the potential of using AR in urban planning. We started our meeting with an introductory back and forth on a broad range of topics, including electric mobility, energy efficiency and slowly worked our way through education to IOT, smart lights and new development projects to cater to the changing demographics and the IT community he would like to attract to his town.

The mayor has ambitious plans to establish his town as a tech hub and attract talent and build the ecosystem that will support his vision for the town’s economic development. We had been invited to visit and talk about how AR is being used in cities and, as we talked, he said, “I can tell that you get my vision. How can you help me realize these plans? Of course that question is what every entrepreneur dreams of getting!

According to Gartner, cities are facing a new wave of technology: we are past the novelty of sensors and operations dashboards that dominated municipal innovations during the past decade. Cities need to be able to visualize and engage all involved, because the rate of change around us is unprecedented. The mayor of the town was right: we could help. We did research and discovered that there is a strong need to visualize large buildings, bridges, or changes to the landscape before the construction started. I am not talking about printed renderings or clever physical models. I mean really experiencing a project life-sized, in its actual location, just as if it were already built. Using nothing but your phone or tablet. We created an AR visualization of the new bridge to help get the budget approved, and it worked!

That experience inspired us to get a team together, create a business plan, and enter a tough international competition. We won funding and, in three months, our team was on a plane to the US to participate in a Smart City Works acceleration program in Reston, Virginia, just outside of Washington, DC. At Smart City Works, we finalized our Augmented Reality platform for Real Estate. The customer discovery process proved pivotal to us as we realized that cities and municipalities are not our primary customers. While cities and counties – and their citizens – will benefit in the long term, the customers that get the most immediate value are the commercial real estate developers.

Our 3D models enable developers to experience their projects in a way that actually puts them on the doorstep, in the atrium, in the office. With this literal visualization, developers can make informed design decisions based on the real size of the project, reducing the need for physical mockups. But the big benefit is in helping to get through a multitude of approvals faster and more efficiently. Finally, the tenant community can have the same experience through AR and actually see what their specific space will look like. Cviker gives new meaning to “fast track” for all of the stakeholders: developers, leasing agents and tenants.

Now we are firmly established in the Washington D.C. area, having completed visualization for several landmark projects. We are being pulled into the vibrant New York market as well and were awarded another investment to strengthen our presence in the US. The commercial real estate market is a billion dollar market and is not leveraging the latest technology. We aim to change that!