Virtual Reality : To do or not to do?

Virtual Reality : To do or not to do?

The end of an era?
You know the drill. You arranged a meeting with a young couple in the prime of their life. They’ve rented for a few years, saved as much as they could and now are ready to become the owner of their dream house or apartment. As an organised realtor, you’ve prepared their visit and arranged everything nicely, spotlighting the best looking points of the 2 bedroom apartment shine. The prospectus lies on the table, maybe with something to drink or some flowers next to it. The bell rings. Let the show begin.

Just one thing : the foundations of your project haven’t even been laid

The wet dream.
Every architect, developer, agency, investor and realtor dreams of offering such an experience. And today, technology makes it possible. Changing the furniture on the spot, putting lights on and off, switching from daytime to nightfall, having the television set playing, lighting the fireplace, having the right music playing, no more need of a show apartment… It all can be arranged in a few clicks and it’s called Virtual Reality.

Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?

Even if it’s possible, there still are some important constraints.

Firstly, you need to have it programmed in the highest quality of 3D animation. It’s perfectly doable, but at a cost (Unless you’re a Star Wars producer with a wallet the size of the gross domestic product of a modest European state.)
Secondly, you need the hardware to make such an experience possible. A virtual reality system such as Oculus Rift is a good example. Think of a high definition TV-screen on the top of your nose, with a cable attached to it that has the size of a garden hose, limiting your movements in this virtual space. It’s a guarantee for neck pains and trip overs.
Also, the perception of virtual reality is location limited. A typical laptop just can’t process the huge chunks of data needed. So, you can’t go over to you prospect’s place and you need him to come over to yours. That might be a pro in your eyes, but people just don’t like to travel around anymore, so neither does your candidate.
And last but not least, until now, nobody has found a solution for the disorientation most users experience. The eyes absorb every information, but body and brains can’t figure out what is happening. Seasickness is the closest comparison possible.

So basically, it comes down to this :
Yes it can be done, but no we don’t advise it. Yet.

Second best tomorrow, second to none today.
Luckily and meanwhile, there’s a very good alternative : Augmented Reality.

Necessities : any mobile device with a built in camera (think every smartphone, tablet or iPad) and one or a few visual references (think carroussel images on your website, or a printed brochure with whatever nice image). Hover with your device over the image, and it suddenly comes to life. In 3D. Motion included. With guiding points that allow you to jump to other spots. It’s not exactly the same as virtual reality, but it comes close. Very close. And the application needed is much lighter, it’s not location limited and people won’t feel as on a ship in rough weather when experiencing it. So this is something we do advise. A QR-code isn’t even needed, by the way.

For now, this is as far as we go in raising the corner of the veil. Should you like to now more, we know of a few persons to show you the ins and outs of virtual and augmented reality. Or for any reality in the real estate trade, for that matter.

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