Virtual reality and real estate are quite plausibly a match made in heaven. After gaming, real estate has been touted as one of the industries likely to be disrupted by VR technology at the earliest. Let’s see why the combination is so promising, what’s the state of the art, and where we could be headed from here.
Virtual Reality or VR in simple terms is everything technology that immerses you in a computer-simulated environment that you can realistically find yourself in and/or interact with. In the context of real estate and construction, the simulated environment is the built environment, which can be your dream home or commercial space. The experience is ideally fully immersive and involves the use of dedicated headsets and devices, but can also be non-immersive or on-screen.
Let’s take a look at three key VR use cases in real estate and construction that are disruptive.
It is now possible to create 360-degree virtual tours of completed properties as well as properties to be built or under construction. The former involves photo capture and stitching technologies to produce immersive views of the built lot, while the latter involves photorealistic rendering techniques to conjure up the same while or before the lot is actually built. Such virtual experiences significantly save cost, time and effort in selling while improving customer experience, convenience and engagement.
- Customization and virtual trading
With detailed 3D modeling and real-time visualization techniques, developers and builders can offer their customers a cost-effective and personalized buying and building experience. The client can mix and match from a curated palette of design styles, themes, as well as structural customization options – for example, open vs. closed plans. Real world collections of home furnishing, finishing and furniture products can also be showcased on site and sold seamlessly, which can be a huge win-win for everyone involved.
- VR Ready Design & Build
A VR-integrated design and build process unlocks significant value in terms of cost and time savings. First, 3D and VR help customers better visualize architectural designs. Fully immersive VR is especially helpful for estimating sizes and spaces. The best VR experiences also integrate BIM data and actual product catalogs to facilitate real-time customization, cost estimation, and decision making. Such built-in visual models can serve as a reference source of truth throughout the build process. All of this means greater transparency, quality, overall efficiency and a significantly improved customer experience with little to no rework.
We already have accessible implementations of the above use cases running on phones, tablets, and low-end VR headsets today, thanks to improvements in display technologies and mobile computing. But many of these are not fully integrated, are mostly not used immersively (on a handheld screen) and do not use the full potential and true magic of VR as a technology.
The truly immersive, most engaging and well-integrated experiences often require access to specialized high-end VR headsets like Oculus Quest or Htc VIVE along with cutting-edge software development capabilities. Some of the more innovative and disruptive companies in the industry are tackling this through VR-powered experience centers and integrated software solutions that make it more accessible and affordable for the customer. As VR technology evolves through the next generations of Millennials and Gen Zs-turned-homebuyers, such innovations will only become more scalable, ubiquitous, and essential.
The views expressed above are the author’s own.
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