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Airbnb Thinks an Augmented Reality Feature Will Make Your Next Stay Less Awkward

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Just as the modern travel experience has improved thanks to the internet, Airbnb wants to make your stay in a stranger’s home easier by way of augmented and virtual reality.

On Monday, the company revealed that it’s working on augmented reality features that, in the future, may provide guests with navigation to amenities within their host’s home.

In addition, the updated app might also enable hosts to provide instructions on how to operate appliances within the home, with language translations integrated into the app. Hosts, according to Airbnb’s vision, might also use the AR features to tell stories about their own experiences in the home and the surrounding locale.

“With augmented reality, we’re looking at ways to make travel more seamless, reducing obstacles to having a transformative experience,” the company stated in a blog post. “The more immersed a traveler is in a new place, the more they’ll learn about the people and culture.”

And as prospective guests make their travel plans, the company’s future-looking post imagines, the app could also give virtual tours of homes using 360-degree photos and 3D scans.

A product designer’s concept of AR in Airbnb. Image by Isil Uzum/Dribbble

The proposed new features are still in the early conceptual and prototyping stages of development, with no set timetable for deployment. So while there’s no footage available of the features in action, an unrelated design concept (above) gives us an idea of what the experience could look like.

Over the summer, product designer Isil Uzum shared concepts of how augmented reality maps could be applied in the Airbnb app. The functionality of the concept is nearly identical to those that Airbnb described. Uzum envisions the features harnessing a smartphone’s location tracking abilities along with environment-sensing technologies like ARKit or Tango (at the time Google’s ARCore had not yet been revealed).

However, according to a company spokesperson, the concept is not connected with Airbnb’s efforts, despite the similarities, and Airbnb has not hired with Uzum to add AR to its app.

Nevertheless, if Airbnb’s AR-powered future looks anything like this concept, the future of short-term rentals is about to get a lot more immersive, and far less mysterious in terms of knowing what you’re getting into before you book your next Airbnb space in an unfamiliar city.

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