By Restb.ai on Aug 29, 2017 3:22:00 AM
A quiet revolution has occurred in the last five years involving the way people search for and consume information online. Consumers have come to expect a richness of description in response to queries that companies are finding increasingly difficult to fulfill without the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Real estate online platforms are particularly at risk of falling behind the requirements of digitally savvy customers. Real estate portals rely on photographs of properties with manually tagged or often missing descriptions that make it troublesome for consumers to quickly research, compare and come to a decision on properties they want to physically investigate.
Brokerages that do not adapt to the tectonic shifts in consumer attention risk internet anonymity at best -- and, at worst, of being perceived as so obsolete that buyers and renters completely bypass their websites.
Computer Vision Comes to Real Estate
A specialized branch of Artificial Intelligence (AI) called Computer Vision is playing a major role in keeping real estate websites competitive. Computer Vision provides the plethora of information and the sort of frictionless user experience consumers are increasingly demanding from brokers.
Computer Vision identifies, categorizes, and correlates features in and across photographs to provide consumers with a treasure trove of results.
The key to providing the level of detail customers now search for online is image tagging. Tags cross-categorize photographs and the features in images to provide perspective to search results.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Computer Vision unpicks access to a wealth of impressions, moods and emotions that make potential buyers and renters act on a property.
Searching the Way Humans Do
People are no longer focusing on specific keywords to search for information on the internet. Increasingly, they are querying computers the same way humans think and speak.
For example, users just a few years ago may have searched for “Seattle Green Lake 2 bedrooms”, or clicked on a multiplicity of checkboxes on brokerage websites to narrow their searches.
Their expectations for the results of online searches have evolved greatly the past two years, though.
Now, their searches are more targeted. Consumers care less about the way they believe computers “process” than the way people “think”. Potential buyers and renters nowadays type queries like, “Two-bedroom duplex in Green Lake with a fireplace downstairs, a stainless steel refrigerator, an island in the kitchen, and picture windows overlooking a deck.”
AI has made it possible for would-be buyers and renters to query in complete sentences and to immediately view the photos that meet their criteria.
AI Computer Vision Takes Inventory
Computer Vision can now decompose a photograph of a living room into the individual features that characterize the space: a fireplace, a hardwood floor, a picture window, a red brick wall, for instance. The AI program can then “tag” each of the items to organize and present a sophisticated set of search results.
Computer Vision Labels Images for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The AI algorithms underpinning Computer Vision are now able to automatically provide descriptive file names and descriptions for images. AI labels the references with standard and consistent tags that enable search engines like Google to highly rank the images it finds on real estate websites.
The higher the rankings, the more readily consumers will visit a website.
Even better, AI organizes the data about all the features of an image into a file called “metadata”. The file adds to the information that assists search engines in providing high-value rankings.
AI Displays Photos As Buyers Prefer
Computer Vision can name and categorize thousands of photographs and objects within seconds, leaving brokers to do what they really want to achieve: make the sale!
Detailed, standardized names for the images and the features in pictures also enable users to search for and organize the graphics as they please.
Once Computer Vision software has categorized and tagged photos and the objects in images, consumers can organize properties on websites in almost any manner they please.
For example, they can display all the properties with similar kitchen characteristics, or bathroom fixtures, and so on.
ON THE HORIZON
Now, the challenge brokerages with online offerings have is keeping up with the growing sophistication of the digerati. Whereas in the past a simple outside shot of a property would do, the increased use of photographs online has created an expectation of a greater richness of search and display results.
Another major barrier real estate agencies will need to overcome soon is the near-magnitude increase in the past couple years of the use of mobile devices to search for information.
The nature of their small screens dictates that displays be filled with information-rich photographs. Computer Vision permits agencies the way to quickly serve up sophisticated results that match the split-second attention spans of consumers on-the-go.
Further, consumers are conducting a rapidly accelerating number of searches through voice assistants like Alexa, Cortana, Amazon Echo, Google Home, Siri, and others. The queries are natural language and come with the consumer expectation that responses will be coherent and detailed.
Real estate brokerages that adopt AI Computer Vision soon will attract and retain one of the most important groups of consumers in the world: the digital native.