For real estate agents, the latest technology can keep you a step ahead of the competition. The latest innovation for your toolbox may be augmented reality.

Augmented reality (AR) is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are “augmented” by computer-generated or extracted real-world sensory input such as sound, video, graphics, haptics or GPS data. It is closely linked to virtual reality.

Virtual reality is an artificial, computer-generated simulation or recreation of a real life environment or situation. It immerses the user by making them feel like they are experiencing the simulated reality firsthand, primarily by stimulating their vision and hearing.

Augmented reality is a technology that layers computer-generated enhancements atop an existing reality in order to make it more meaningful through the ability to interact with it. AR is developed into apps and used on mobile devices to blend digital components into the real world in such a way that they enhance one another, but can also be told apart easily.

Of the two techs, AR is expected to record more spending by 2022, and it seems to be catching on at a higher speed. While the technology behind AR has been around for years, the average consumer had little to do with it until 2016, when Apple released ARKit, a tool kit that allows developers to make augmented reality apps.

When Apple also made its latest operating system augmented reality compatible, it became a possibility for millions of people to use any augmented reality tool available through the app store.

According to Tim Merel, managing director of Digi-Capital, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based augmented and virtual reality adviser, predicted that by the end of 2018, there could be as many as 900 million smartphones and tablets capable of supporting augmented reality apps created from toolkits like Apple’s ARKit, Google’s ARCore and Facebook’s Camera Effects.

And that number could grow to more than three billion by 2021.

Developers continue to create simple tools, such as MeasureKit is essentially a digital ruler. PLNAR helps a user take dimensions of a room to create a floor plan.

Homesnap, a real estate search engine, has a “Walk the Property Lines” tool that shows the property lines around any home.

When you’re able to swap or move images at a push of a button, you can convey the “what-ifs instantaneously” to clients, making the decision-making process quicker, said Matthew Miller, the founder of StudioLAB, a Manhattan architectural and design firm.

With new technology, it’s all about the ease of use, said Brian Peters, chief marketing officer at Cambria.

“I made sure both my 12-year-old daughter and my 41-year-old wife were able to use the app,” he said.

Warburg Realty’s Clelia Warburg Peters predicts it will speed up buyers’ decisions: “Buying a home can be very emotional. If you can change and personalize things, it can help with the decision-making process.”

AR software developer Pandora Reality is currently working on programs specifically for brokers and developers because they believe these tools will help clients stay interested in properties.

“Home buying is a weeks-long process. You can keep clients engaged with augmented reality much more than a link to a website,” said Alper Guler, the firm’s head of operations.