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Online real estate portal PropTiger has acquired Out of Box Interaction (OoBi), a user interface design firm, for an undisclosed amount, reports NextBigWhat. PropTiger mentions it made this acquisition to improve the user interface of its website and to display real estate projects in a more immersive way.

It’s not clear if post acquisition OoBi will remain an independent platform. OoBi currently offers various marketing products for real estate projects. This includes Android and iOS apps with features like augmented reality, multi-touch kiosks, tables and screen for presentation at marketing offices and property expos, interactive ‘video wall’ and lead tracking software etc. It claims to have over 20 clients including Godrej properties, Karle Infra, RMZ Corp, Olympia, Essar and Brigade Group among others.

It will be interesting to see what PropTiger can come up with after this acquisition. Competition in the real estate space has been heating up, with most competitors focusing on UI and an immersive experience to attract users. PropTiger does mention that the acquisition “will help us in adding a new dimension to our customers’ home search process by making digital information more tangible and interactive.”

PropTiger funding:

Note in November, Elara Technologies that owns PropTiger had raised $30 million in exchange for 25% stake from News Corp. Other than the funding, the realty platform would be able to make use of News Corps’ digital and product expertise, especially with REA and Move. PropTiger had earlier also raised $5 million from Accel Partners and SAIF Partners in April 2012.

Focus on UI in real estate:

– Real estate and apartment management portal CommonFloor introduced CommonFloor Retina, a virtual reality initiative to let users view listed real estate in 3D in February. At release, the platform supported Android phones LG Nexus 4 and above, MotoG 2nd gen, Samsung Galaxy 4 and above, MotoX and the Xiaomi Mi3.

– Note that in July last year, real estate portal IndiaProperty.com had launched a 3D Virtual Property Tour feature. This allowed panoramic view of projects, and in case of ready-to-occupy projects actual static images of the property stitched together to create the virtual tour.

– Housing.com had also launched a platform called Slice View which offered interactive exploration of the project, along with integrated booking options. This platform displayed 3D model of the building along with a list of its floors and let users view a detailed 3D flat view, complete with flat furnishings.

– Street view mapping service WoNoBo had added a realty section (in beta) last year. The service is currently available only for properties in Mumbai and Delhi. The feature allows users to explore the actual building site, even before the construction is over. Users can also opt for an internal 3D view. WoNoBo launched in October 2013 in India.

– WoNoBo’s foray in the online real estate space had forced 99Acres, MagicBricks and others to focus on improving their site’s UI. For example, MagicBricks claims to offer 3D Virtual Tours for properties. Unfortunately, the MagicBricks Virtual Tour seems limited to a landing page with no interactive features except zoom.