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As technology advances and becomes more available to a wider audience, we tend to analyze how that tech advancement can benefit us, our clients, and your clients. Computers were once giant machines that took up entire rooms. Today, one smartphone holds more computing power than all the computers used during the first moon landing combined. And it fits in your pocket. Naturally, as smartphones became more ubiquitous we innovated new ways that could better service our clients who use them, like our mobile apps LINK and Video Connect, and continue to explore new technologies to help you find better ways to serve your customers.

One technology that we have a close eye on at the moment is Augmented Reality. It’s becoming more accessible and we think it offers great possibilities for the future of property insurance. Below, we define what augmented reality is and lay out some of the benefits that we are already thinking about.

What Is Augmented Reality (AR)?

Before we dive into the possibilities of AR, it’s probably best to explain what it is in the first place. Augmented reality, also known as “mixed reality,” is a way of combining the real world in front of us with virtual objects and information. It is usually seen through a screen or some kind of lens, that makes it appear as if the virtual object is in the real world. An example that many people may be familiar with is Pokemon Go, the mobile game phenomenon that took the world by storm in 2016. This game used AR to allow players to capture Pokemon monsters in the real world that were only visible through their mobile device screens.

Some people may confuse this technology with Virtual Reality (VR), but VR creates a completely simulated environment, while AR only augments parts of the real world in front of us. This can be useful in many cases as it can overlay information, and other useful and fun things, with the real world in front of us. Here’s a video example of what AR may look like one day to give you a better idea of what we’re talking about:

How Can Augmented Reality Be Used In Property Insurance?

As of right now, the technology isn’t quite at the level shown in the video above. However, we here at Symbility see great opportunities on how the world of property insurance could the leverage it’s potential power.

We’ve introduced Symbility Video Connect, a live collaboration tool that allows policyholders to interact with adjusters by using their smartphone or tablet camera to show them damages and start documenting right at the first notice of loss stage of a claim. A very popular technology as is, but what if it could be taken even further? Using AR, the adjuster might be able to start taking exact measurements of damaged areas right through the policyholder’s phone, allowing them to gain faster and more accurate details, which would speed up the resolution time. Here’s a demonstration of what that technology might look like:

Another way AR could be used is to explore different options for fixing damages. Policyholders could explore options in real-time with their contractors, getting to see what each option might look like while the technology creates cost estimates based on what materials and how much are being used.

These are just a couple of the ideas we’re brainstorming right now but the possibilities are endless. Who knows what more advanced technology may allow us to do in the near future.

How Far Away From Using Augmented Reality Are We?

It’s hard to say how far we are from using technology like this in the claims process. The technology is still in its infancy and can be quite expensive to build and deploy. Thankfully, technology moves forward at a rapid pace and companies are working on making augmented reality more accessible to large organizations and consumers. Apple recently released ARkit, a framework to help iOS developers easily work to create AR experiences. Google is working on Tango, their own 3D mapping and AR framework for developers. As these technologies advance and allow for more accurate measuring and rendering, we get closer to making all these things a reality.

Here at Symbility, we’re technology people. We’re always on the hunt for the latest and greatest tech so we can think about how it can be used to benefit our customers and their customers.

We’re excited about the possibility of AR and can’t wait to see what other possibilities the future may hold.

Image credits: Pokemon Go image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dcmot/28063044940