• Bart Denny

The importance of "one-handedness" for mobile applications

This is the first of a four-part series that explains what we mean by the Interface for Place.

We'll break down the 4 component pieces that come together within our PlaceTime app, and how that helps the real estate industry operate more efficiently.

PlaceTime's Interface for Place

PlaceTime's 3D city models allow owners and operators of places come claim their place - we help them put in place a more detailed, more useful map of their property.

This so-called Digital Twin is a collection of 3D models that represent the physical structure, AND real-time and historical data. It serves as a dynamic blank canvas, bringing together critical operations data. The Digital Twin is used to create a whole range of property animations, graphics and virtual tour experiences - able to immerse a user as they explore a location from the city level down to inspecting minute details of a construction project.

Our Interface for Place has a very simple value proposition to anyone who uses it - find stuff faster, better understand what’s going on in particular place, and take full control over the physical environment around you. This map is embedded with services - point your phone at the world around you "in situ", or view the same interface using the digital twin to provide that "virtual" experience to someone elsewhere.

The Interface for Place turns your phone into a magic wand - simply point at things around you, seeing a digital interface anchored to the physical world. Cold, hungry, need something? Here’s the info & curated links that help you get the most out of this place. This same digital interface layer to a place is also available remotely, using the place’s Digital Twin to enable virtual visits, down to walking around place in 1:1 “room scale” immersion.

The importance of one-handedness

An early design goal for our spatial interface placed primary importance of delivering a 3D map experience that requires only one hand for spatial navigation.

Users overwhelming vote for apps that make one-handed usage the default, accounting for a huge percentage of our mobile phone usage. Browse through the design patterns here to see great examples of mobile apps that design for this. Of course it's an accessibility issue, but it's one faced by just about every human in the normal course of the day, being able to only devote one hand to their phone.

Video features the one-handed navigation in PlaceTime.

Today’s mapping applications are nearly impossible to use with only one hand - relying on two-handed gestures such as pinch to zoom, or rotation for any extended spatial exploration requires both hands - one to hold the phone and the other to use these multi-touch gestures. Today's mobile maps are amazing utilities - they have utterly transformed where we go, the way we get around, and how we coordinate with others. The US government has estimated the loss of these core spatial utilities would result in economic loss of $1B dollars per day!

PlaceTime uses Augmented Reality’s 6 Degrees of Freedom (“6DoF”) input, along with an on-screen joystick, to let users zip around the city, dive in and walk around places effortlessly with one hand. It's sorta a flight simulator in that regard - making it easier to explore a place, and getting a better understanding of what that place can offer them.

That flying experience is complimented by a "roomscale walkthrough" of 3D models. Using Augmented Reality to walk around inside the space as if you were there, our customers bring a new level of engagement and immersion into their marketing, storytelling and leasing of great spaces. We're starting first with our hometown of Oakland.

We’d be thrilled to get your thoughts on the experience - spatial interfaces are still in their infancy, but we think we've got a compelling mobile app for property storytelling. Sign up for our Oakland PlaceTime beta here - and drop us a line with your thoughts!

Next post, we will look at deeper into the Digital Twin, and the role it will play in managing properties in the future.