3D Printing and Augmented Reality | A New Path to Home Ownership

Thanks to modern advancements in augmented reality and 3D printing, redesigning a space or building a new home has never been more futuristic. We are living in an era of unprecedented innovation, where homes can be assembled from scratch in just under 24 hours, and living spaces designed from a few taps on a smartphone. More than just passing trends, these technological leaps represent a disruption of the home and design industry. Here, we examine two of the most promising advancements in home construction and retail, and why they’re catching the world’s attention.

Laying Out the Benefits of Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR) offers a whole new way to see the world. It’s one of today’s fastest growing industries, with experts predicting the mobile AR market will reach a value of 70 billion USD by 2023. Augmented reality sees the real, observable world overlaid with digital data or images: we’re accustomed to AR cropping up on our screens—the yellow line marker projected in live football games being one prominent example—and on our phones, as whimsical filters adorn our photographs in real time. But how does AR stand to impact our homes?

Up until fairly recently, the use of AR in the interior design space was beset by growing pains, but a combination of savvy developers and strategic partnerships is finally allowing the market to flourish. What if you could reimagine a room in a myriad of configurations without the need for hauling furniture around? Retailers of luxury furnishings and high-end décor are permitting customers to bring their products home and try them out—digitally. Curate by Sotheby’s International Realty℠ makes it possible to conceptualize your rooms in the palm of your hands, providing a long-awaited tool for interior design enthusiasts and more casual browsers alike.

Curate by Sotheby’s International Realtyis the first real-estate branded AR app available for Apple iOS-enabled and Google’s Android-enabled devices. Utilizing the power of the Google ARCore platform in tandem with online luxury furniture marketplace Viyet, the app enables users to scan their environs with their phone and then place, rotate, and adjust furniture as they see fit. Customers can test individual pieces or select from a wide range of preset looks, ranging in style from mid-century modern to traditional contemporary.

With simple features and real-time results, designers aren’t the only ones enjoying Curate by Sotheby’s International Realty’seasy user experience. By allowing prospective homebuyers to preview any house in their personal taste and style, the app is a powerful tool for sellers and real estate agents looking to increase buyer confidence in the purchasing decision. Whether you’re decorating your own home or someone else’s, it’s not hard to see how augmented reality opens new doors for visualizing any space.

3D Printing and the Future of Housing Fabrication

Another advancement taking the home and design world by storm is 3D printing. When it comes to framing and raising a new build, what once required hours of labor and a hefty budget can now be accomplished in less than a day for a sliver of the cost.

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In 2017, the Sotheby’s International Realty brand partnered with non-profit New Story in their mission to provide homes for under-housed families in Haiti, Mexico, El Salvador, and Bolivia. Pairing technological advancements from Austin-based startup ICON with donations from partners like the Sotheby’s International Realty network, New Story has created a 3D printer capable of creating a home in just 12–24 hours for the low cost of $4,000 USD.

Programmed to create the foundation and walls of the structure via a concrete-extruding printing apparatus, The Vulcan 3D printer produces single-story, 650-square-foot structures that represent a breakthrough in housing relief efforts worldwide. ICON co-founder Jason Ballard says 3D printing is something of a “unicorn technology” for the construction industry, singular in enabling faster, better, and cheaper projects to be completed with new creativity.

While many families in have already begun their lives in new, traditionally-constructed homes made possible by New Story, more will soon receive a home in the world’s first ever 3D-printed community in El Salvador, and the Sotheby’s International Realty brand is proud to play a part in such a life-changing initiative.

What does 3D printing mean for higher-end homes? Flexibility. Liberated from the confines of traditional building materials, architects planning the 3D-printed homes of the future have a wider palette of shapes to choose from: according to New Story, “nearly any 2D floor plan imaginable can be printed”. Eco-consciousness is another factor that may drive luxury buyers to seek out cement homes, as the process creates very little waste, and the double-layer insulated walls are well designed for energy efficiency with a continuous thermal envelope. For those looking for a visionary, unique method of building, 3D printing may offer a path towards fresh, responsible design.

Far from fleeting trends, these modern innovations in the home and design space may very well become the norm. With the increased efficiency, convenience, and potential to transform lives made available by these recent breakthroughs, a technological revolution has never looked so bright.