(Source: New York Times)

Open the mobile phone application offered by a French real estate agency and point your phone at a building along the Champs-Élysées or some other street in Paris. Within seconds, you will see the property’s value per square meter, superimposed over a live image of the building streamed through the phone’s camera.

Speed and convenience delivered with the aim of a smartphone. Could this be the new frontier of on-demand property search?

It depends whom you ask.

The application, engineered by Layar, a 10-month-old company based in Amsterdam, uses “augmented reality” technology, or A.R., to harness a phone’s camera, global positioning system and compass. Elements like statistics and 3-D images are, essentially, layered over a live picture so the user gets a single view with all available information.

These A.R. “mash-ups” already are being used to display information about tourist sites, chart subway stops and restaurants, allow interior designers to superimpose new furniture or color schemes on a room, and give crime statistics for a specific area.

Read R. Scott MacIntosh’s full article “Portable Real Estate Listings – but With a Difference” in the New York Times (March 26, 2010).

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