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Hong Kong startup uses augmented reality to find haunted apartments

Wed 2 Nov 2016

A real estate startup company in Hong Kong has harnessed the power of augmented reality (AR) technology to show users the price of apartments for sale or rent. It also includes a feature that will point out properties where an untimely death occurred, to help clients bargain for a lower price based on the potential of a ‘haunted house.’

Spacious.hk uses augmented reality technology to enable users to check the prices of apartments in building they are physically near. Clicking the ‘AR’ button activates the phone’s camera, and by pointing the phone at the building, a user can get a list of properties for rent or sale along with pricing information. However, in a recent update, the company added a ‘ghost’ feature, which applies a cartoon ghost icon to the property listings as well.


Clicking on the ghost will bring up the details of a previous owner’s untimely death, which allows the user to bargain over the price of the rent or sale of the property. Example listing details include:

‘Male murdered his wife and two daughters.’
‘Old man lost balance while hanging laundry and fell to his death.’
‘Old male hanged himself in the bathroom.’
‘Hairdresser in his 70s hanged himself.’

There are also an extraordinary number of ‘charcoal burning’ suicides in the database – a form of domestic asphyxiation which doesn’t require a car and which came into a grotesque kind of fashion in the last decade.

Asif Ghafoor, CEO of Spacious, said, “Properties that have some kind of history of an ‘incident’ in them can go for up to 50 per cent less than a normal one.” The haunted house feature is “just something we have to do because it’s integral to the market. It’s a real factor that affects house prices and rentals,” he says.

Other real estate sites have gathered information on untimely deaths to exploit the haunted house factor, but Spacious is the first to combine the data with AR technology, so that clients can view the ghost data along with the pricing data from their mobile device.

“Augmented reality is something we’d been thinking about for a while. After Pokemon Go came out at the end of July, the success of that made us realise the potential for our app.” He continued, “We think it’s a technological first. We don’t think anyone else has done this before.”

“For expats and others who don’t believe in ghost stories, it’s an unbelievable opportunity. I guess many Chinese people look at the haunted feature of the website as well, because they want to know what not to buy.”


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