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Tagwhat – augmented reality for real estate [EXCLUSIVE]

Tagwhat for all agents

Last month when we told about Tagwhat, an augmented reality (AR) application that allows you to tag any place with information, allowing other users to hold their phone up and see your tags in real time. We realized immediately the implications of Tagwhat in the real estate industry and have since spent some time talking to the folks that created the AR product and have learned a lot from them in preparation for their official launch today.

First, we’d like to introduce you to how to use Tagwhat for real estate- you don’t have to call a developer to make an app for you, it’s already done and can even be branded, check out this video Tagwhat has created exclusively for AgentGenius:

Interview with Tagwhat CEO

Dave Elchoness, CEO and Co-Founder of Tagwhat spent some time answering our questions and feeding our obsession with augmented reality. This is an opportunity for you to get an inside look at what’s on the horizon for the emerging technologies of augmented reality.

Q: What has been the biggest challenge getting to market?

A: “The biggest challenge: What’s augmented reality? New technologies always have difficulty at the outset convincing people to take a look and give them a try. Mobile augmented reality, the contextual overlay of data on the camera view of the mobile device, is no exception. People often ask ‘why’ the technology is useful.

Once people see Tagwhat, however, they tend to see the value very quickly. Because we incorporate an on-line map interface, even those without the latest iPhone understand and can benefit from Tagwhat. The mobile component is really where Tagwhat shines though because it’s something utterly new and unique. Hold up the phone at a place and see the tags placed there by you and the users you follow as they float in the camera view of the device. Adding in well-understood social interaction in Tagwhat via messaging, commenting, etc. makes the platform more than informational. It’s each of these components that makes Tagwhat worthy of a close look even from skeptics.”

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Q: How do you see the real estate industry adopting Tagwhat?

A: “The real estate industry seems like it would naturally flock to Tagwhat given its focus on place, information, and interaction. Imagine a realtor inputting listings via Tagwhat’s on-line map interface, promoting listings with a link to its public Tagwhat page, and interacting with potential buyers through the on-line and mobile AR medium.

So, as the consumer walks down the street, she is able to hold up the mobile device, see the properties for sale and any attached media (like photos or videos), place a note virtually at the property, and contact the realtor to set up a viewing within seconds. Neighborhood schools and amenities (and linked reviews of them) could also be tagged to enhance the experience.

I think what’s been missing thus far in mobile AR has been the on-line element, which makes the product accessible to everyone, and the interaction inside of the AR. Without those elements, mobile AR is one-way information available only to those with the latest smartphone.”

Dave Elchoness asks us to consider two scenarios:

Scenario one: A large realtor works with Tagwhat to integrate its live data feed of listings into a branded channel in Tagwhat. The realtor promotes its channel on its website so that visitors learn of this new outlet in Tagwhat and are able to ‘follow’ the realtor’s listings via on-line map and mobile AR in Tagwhat. So the user now has, in their own on-line map and mobile AR, the realtor’s listings to review, photos, and even videos. From Tagwhat, the potential buyer can set up viewings, email with the realtor, comment on listings and much more. This sort of integration is a very quick process with Tagwhat and opens up a world of information to consumers, regardless of whether the consumer is far away seeking a relocation or walking by the listed property.

Scenario two: A smaller real estate agency can equally benefit by creating a free account in Tagwhat. Just input your listings, attach any photos or other media, phone numbers, open house schedules, etc and let potential consumers know you’re in Tagwhat.

Q: Is real estate an implication you guys had thought of during creation?

A: “Yes, we’ve done two mobile augmented reality apartment search applications for UDR, the real estate investment trust and owner of apartment communities across the country. The second a social augmented reality application allows users not only to find UDR apartments in mobile AR but also neighborhood amenities and leave their own AR notes inside the application.

Q: When do you think AR will be mainstream? 2011, 2012, 2020?

A: “I firmly believe that we are at the early stages of a revolution in how we interact. Today, we have basic location based games. Within a few years, we will have technologies that allow you to ‘see’ the location based internet all around you through eyewear. Sure, this sounds like the Terminator movies or Minority Report today, but these technologies are being developed and they’re coming very fast.

Five years ago, social media was a small group of little known technologies before the Facebook-YouTube-Twitter boom. Five years from now, I have no doubt whatsoever that AR will be just another part of our lives that we take for granted. Because Tagwhat appeals to so many uses and industries, from real estate to education, retail, and games, our plan is to be a big part of AR for many years to come.”

What do you think?

Do you think AR will have a high adoption rate in the real estate industry? Given that people want instant information, could this be the best way to give it to them? What limits does AR currently have, and what barriers does it break down? What do you think of augmented reality overall? Let us know in comments.

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Matt Stigliano

    May 6, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    @LaniAR – Thanks for this one. We’ve discussed AR before and I know you get giddy with excitement over it (ok, maybe not “giddy”) and I’ve said to you before that I think it’s a fascinating idea and would love to be able to toy with it…well, this is exactly what I wanted. Can’t wait to see what I can come up with as far as interesting uses go.

    Dave – Consider me a fan.

  2. Matt Stigliano

    May 6, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    PS I see a few things that I would already make as suggestions…any good place to send them?

  3. Dave Elchoness

    May 6, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    Matt and All Readers: Please contact me directly with any questions, suggestions, etc. We need the feedback to get better!! Thanks very much. Dave Elchoness (dave @

  4. Melanie Wyne

    May 8, 2010 at 10:12 am

    This is really interesting and exciting. Since I’m the tech policy nerd, and since a new privacy bill was released this week in Congress that includes limitations on geolocation data, I’m curious about how you are dealing with privacy issues. Does this follow a user around via GPS and collect their specific location data or is it search based?

    • Dave Elchoness

      May 8, 2010 at 12:42 pm

      Hi Melanie: Tagwhat does not follow you around. You drop tags where you like and choose whether to have a public account or private one (i.e. follow with your approval.) Since Tagwhat lets you drop content anywhere in the world at any time, there is no way for someone to know where you are unless you tell them. You can search for people to follow based on what they’ve listed as interests and their base location.

  5. Missy Caulk

    May 8, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Intriguing after watching the video here and on your introduction post.
    So can we give our raw data feeds to them?
    If so I am in, as I wouldn’t want to have to enter all my listings…even though the exposure would be great, especially as the word gets out to the masses.

    I see it is available on Droids, Iphone coming, what about Blackberrys?
    I am upgrading to the iPhone when the 4G is released but waiting.

    • Dave Elchoness

      May 8, 2010 at 12:48 pm

      Hi Missy: We can integrate a data feed into what we call a ‘Channel’ on the system. If you look at our Channels section you’ll see featured content like Wikipedia, Foursquare, etc. These are large data sets we’ve built in. Users can toggle those Channels on and off in their on-line and mobile experiences. As for devices, we’re currently in the Android market; coming very soon to iPhone 3GS. Blackberry hardware doesn’t currently support mobile AR. We have toyed around with the idea of a ‘lite’ (non-AR) version, but haven’t made any decisions. Users can of course still enjoy Tagwhat on-line without any mobile device. Thanks!

  6. Kim H.

    September 15, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Just to be clear. The only way a potential client would be able to see these tags is if they’ve installed Tagwhat on their phone? If so, our promotion would need to be double sided, get them to install the app as well as use the feature?

    Looking for ways to integrate AR in to our real estate firm’s marketing strategy.

    • Dave Elchoness

      September 15, 2010 at 3:49 pm

      Hi Kim!

      Thanks for the question. Yes, a potential client would need to download the Tagwhat app on their mobile device to see the tags that you place. The other option would be for the client to use Tagwhat on-line map interface to see the tags. For example, a client planning a move to your part of the country might review your listings (and other tags you might place) in the on-line map and then, when she’s in town, download Tagwhat so that they can have the mobile AR experience on location.

      You would definitely need to instruct the client to download the Tagwhat app for their phone and/or go to If you’d like we can supply a logo that could link to your Tagwhat page from your existing website.

      If I can help, please feel free to contact me directly. Thank you.


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