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Augmented Reality and Micro-payments

Sooner than you think.

Much sooner than you believe possible.

You’ve reached BIM IV-IV, the pinnacle of Social BIG BIM. You talk with prospective clients about the AECOU relationship. Your BIMs are integrated with the final buildings so that they are a part of the user experience. You are in the realm of augmented reality.

Anyone who walks into one of your buildings can query an infinite amount of information via a smart phone, Google Glasses, advanced contact lenses, or some other near-future tech. If they love the carpet or tile or light fixtures they can ask the building for more details.The Internet of Things is ubiquitous. All the information of the building has the potential to be accessible. This is wonderful and empowering. This is coming soon and opens up wild possibilities.

Imagine this:

Someone walks into the lobby of a restaurant and falls in love with the chandelier. Via augmented reality they ask the building (connected to the BIM) what the chandelier is. They get the product name, maker, cost, and shipping details. Right then or a few days later they purchase the light fixture for their own home or their own business. The seller of the chandelier knows via affiliate links where the purchaser learned about the product. The owner of the original restaurant, and maybe the design team that picked the fixture, all get a commission. This happens just like all of us with websites now get micro-payments for purchases from links to Amazon and other sites. For instance if you buy this book about the end of the information age by David Houle or anything else on Amazon starting from that link, I get a tiny commission.

A building with a digital self could (will/should), like a website, become a generator of passive income. Now as all of us with small(ish) sites know, we’ll never retire from the fortune we make via affiliate links. But imagine the opening scenario. It’s not one building, but one hundred buildings. The passive income potential goes up. OR… It’s not a home owner or the proprietor of the local coffee shop that sees a product they like. It’s a buyer for Walmart. And they decide that because they love some product in your store or house, Walmart is going to make a multi-million dollar contract with the producer of that thing. How’d you like a 2% cut of that? Or better yet, let’s add 3D printing into the mix. The object that the buyer loves was custom made for the project. YOU, the architect, designed and manufactured it. Now thanks to augmented reality, you’re not getting a 2% commission, but are selling the licensing rights to the product you designed and printed in your home office. That’s going to be a slightly bigger check.

BIM leads to passive income

The future is going to be awesome.

Let’s not miss out on it.

This will happen. All the pieces to the puzzle are available now. The only thing missing is for someone to put it all together. It’s easy to envision this future where the architect/designer is even more cuckolded and tangential to the final building and environment. Where what we’re doing in the shallows of BIM have no effect on the user experience. How about we avoid that? What do you think? How can architects add value to the augmented reality future that will be here before my daughters are driving?

Want more? Here’s a follow up post that suggests how we could baby-step into this world today.

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  • February 26, 2013

    My local architecture buddies have been trying to find the “hook” for repeat sales of a design for home, furniture, widget, etc. for a long time now.

    My current business model has a big fat bottleneck–me! There is only so much I can get done in a given day and only a certain amount is billable. I think changing that paradigm is the starting point.

    ‘Cracking the code’ on how to get that revenue stream from a theory to checks in the bank is tough. I hope to co-create the system with you and the rest of the architecture community.

  • February 27, 2013

    I really like the near future you envision!

    I even used your blog post as a basis for a LinkedIn discussion: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Augmented-Reality-Micropayments-Could-This-2432125.S.217858987?qid=d8797fc0-203c-4b03-ad86-5773804325e7&goback=%2Egmp_2432125

    So far it hasn’t garnered a comment from the group. This baffles me! I thought it would spark a lively discussion. Go figure!

  • March 4, 2013

    Bob Owen

    Maybe once parametric BIM objects become the norm it will be easier for Google to access the data, provided that the BIM is publicly accessible and the objects are cross-correlated with something like COBie/SPie.
    Oh, and the development and delivery of real as-built BIM becomes the norm. Could it happen; absolutely. Will architects let it; some, maybe. Will builders update the model; probably not. UNLESS, clients demand it; some are already, the others are likely to catch on once they see a use for the information that means something to them.

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