Virtual Reality: Seeing is Believing
A few years ago, we stumbled upon an extremely essential insight about human nature. While we all love to live in houses that are beautiful and sit right with all of our requirements, we do not like the process of house hunting. For years, house hunting has been a strenuous task often coupled with dissatisfaction. We cringe at the thought of having to set aside at least a day or two, walking under the blazing sun, hopping from one property to another in a quest for the house of our dreams. After all, we want to know that when we spend our hard earned money on the monthly rent, it is being spent well.
While traditionally we were at the mercy of multiple external factors, technology has brought us to the cusp of a solution. With the development of Oculus Rift (acquired by Facebook), Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard, HTC Vive, Sony Morpheus and more recently, the Teslasuit, the day is not far when we can see as well as feel places all around the world while relaxing on our couch.
In the real estate industry, as with the entire world, things are rapidly changing; especially with regards to technology. It’s hard to predict what the next ‘big thing’ will be. We are living in a world where we seek ‘instant gratification’. We access and want information, and we look for it immediately. The more details a website can provide about one of their listings to a viewer, the more likely they are to pique interest. While a website can tell you that a house is a 1000 sq. ft., 3 Bedroom-Hall-Kitchen and supplement the same with images, it is quite tough to understand the actual size and location of these areas. 3D tours to put the big picture together
We have all been awed by the technology that Tony Stark uses in the Iron Man series. While we don’t imagine you will be making missiles and flying through the city; we are looking at a world where you can walk through your prospective house while in the living room of your current one. After Google paved the way for low-cost VR experiences on mobile with its Cardboard program, the possibilities and promises have been enormous. You can visit and walk through houses/places around the world. Simply insert your phone into the cardboard contraption, place the device near your face and the gyro sensors on the phone help move the image in front of you like you are standing at the location and moving your head. Plug in your earphones and you will be transported to a new universe. The 3D technology allows you to get a deeper understanding of the layout, size and interior design of a home before planning your offline visit. By getting a realistic view of the property – on your own time – you can decide whether or not it’s worth visiting thus saving you immense time and money. 3D Virtual tours will provide the same physical sensations, reflections and realism that physically being there will. The best way to describe 3D in real estate is by comparing it to a video game specifically MMORPG’s (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) – or the Sims.
While in the game, viewers online can experience a virtual reality - You are the avatar exploring your environment. When you are viewing the tour, it’s as though you are actually there in the house. You can “walk” in any direction, you can look up or down as well, to an extent. This allows viewers to experience a space more thoroughly than photos or a floor plan alone would do. It’s sort of a combination of the best marketing attributes a home can have. Technology is being put to work to offer potential tenants the chance to see the details of a home, without having to physically visit it.
The engine that will drive this process
Creating content for the VR experience is essential. The experience is based completely on the authenticity and realism of the data sourced and the visuals collated. Matterport provides end-to-end technology to make 3D models of Real Interior spaces, making it easy now for everyone to record a VR tour of their own houses. Closer home, Tessaract is one such technology, which provides affordable solutions to capture 360-degree 3D models. Recently companies like GoPro and Nokia are also entering the fray. There’s a number of consumer grade cameras in the segment that are coming up, such as the Bublcam, and gear like the Ricoh Theta S which creates 360 degree VR tour. With more options to capture a holistic image available, the future looks promising.
VR technology is expected to transform and disrupt the real estate industry; potentially altering user interaction and presenting a number of opportunities for more immersive marketing and sales in the online real estate space. With the influx of VR, people will not only say, “wow” to the technology they are witnessing, but also to what is being provided to them up front, without even having to ask. It’s only a matter of time when online real estate players adapt to this technology and the next time you book or rent a house, you won’t see that place in 2D images, but in VR and 3D.
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