Augmented Reality in the search for flats for BBVA
Valora View is a mobile application developed by Plain Concepts for BBVA. This application helps customers find properties for rent or sale with Augmented Reality, 2D heat map features and much more. All this using .NET and Xamarin!
BBVA has a core focus on developing innovative products and services for its digital channels. Especially its mobile platforms which are the fastest growing among our 75 million customers. A great example of this output is the naming of the BBVA mobile app as the “Best in the World”, for the second year running, by independent research analysts of Forrester.
BBVA took the top spot thanks to “a superb balance between useful functionality and excellent user experience.” “BBVA customers can complete a wide range of tasks through the application, which also offers a range of state-of-the-art functionalities such as BBVA Valora”.
What is BBVA Valora View? In short, this is a service designed to help people make more informed decisions about buying or renting a property with the focus on saving time, money, and stress. BBVA Valora View combines Big Data, Xamarin, and Augmented Reality to transform the way people find their new homes.
Before the Internet revolution, the common process of house hunting was walking through the desired neighborhood looking for rent or for sale signs. BBVA Valora View is a digital evolution of this approach, using augmented reality to show properties for sale or rent on the person’s phone.
But Valora then takes things to the next level, interweaving big data, Xamarin, and AI tools to give people real-time information about the house and the neighborhood.
For example, Valora will give you neighborhood statistics, but also tell you insights like what the house could be worth in the future and what a good bidding price will be – based on data from the area. It can also help you understand elements like renovation costs, insurance, and of course offers mortgage calculators and an online mortgage application option.
BBVA has entrusted Plain Concepts, a Microsoft Gold Partner, with the development of the Valora View application. Plain Concepts provided Xamarin and Augmented Reality experts to help develop the project and successfully meet the ambitious goals of this innovative solution.
BBVA Valora View summarizes in many ways the ambitions of BBVA’s digital transformation: to create opportunities by supporting people in making the right choice. It does this by mixing both financial and non-financial data to provide technology-driven insights that are actionable and disruptive to the sector.
“BBVA Valora View has been a great success. On the first day alone we had over 8,000 downloads, and a year after its launch we have already exceeded 80k downloads. On an average session, a user spends more than 5 minutes browsing the application looking for detailed information and customized calculations”, says Gabriel González, BBVA Digital Product Manager.
Augmented Reality App
The result of the Big Data input is displayed with Wikitude. An Augmented Reality framework in BBVA Valora View that redefines the experience of finding a house. Wikitude presents in an AR view on the mobile device the georeferenced data that the application obtains with information and statistics on the house.
The decision to buy a home is always complex, and in many cases, people are faced with the dilemma of whether it is more convenient to buy or rent. The tool calculates the different costs and investments needed and notifies the user which of the two options is more advantageous.
Xamarin.Forms allows BBVA to code the application logic once and then share it across both iOS and Android platforms without any problems.
One of the most interesting aspects of Xamarin.Forms is that it does not try to force commonality where it does not exist. Both Android and iOS have UI and SDK features that are different depending on the look and feel of each platform. Therefore, the result is that iOS applications feel like iOS and Android applications feel like Android. With Xamarin we are able to focus our efforts on building app features once and then shipping the app.
During the development and testing phases, AppCenter was presented as the best platform to build, test, and distribute the app. The simplicity to configure a build and be able to distribute it quickly was very important for the project to allow us to implement an agile life cycle.
The AppCenter features for Analysis and Diagnostics were essential to detect issues, the full stack traces, and the information needed to solve them quickly. Testing features made it possible to define user interface tests with Xamarin.UITest for some critical scenarios and run them on a lot of devices to detect if there were any device-specific problems that needed to be solved.