A Whole New World: Virtual Reality for Property

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Augmented and virtual reality has entered the world of real estate. These bold new technologies are already guiding construction at one end of the chain, and property sales at the other. They’ve caught on quickest in residential sales with companies such as Zoopla, Rightmove, Walton & Allen and even Foxtons — but other sectors are catching up.

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Bringing developments to life

For instance JLL recently launched VR360 Services, a new technology application that allows clients to watch their real estate projects take shape from anywhere in the world. The VR tool captures 360-degree spherical images of the site through a series of cameras. Clients can then explore their project Google Earth-style on their desktop, looking in all directions as they would in a real site visit.

No need to imagine your future home

When a more immersive experience is required, VR headsets can be used – for instance, to digitally tour a property that hasn’t even been built yet. This can be especially impactful for refurbishments or off-plan developments where buyers are trying to envisage their future in what is currently only a hole in the ground. In London alone, VR headsets have been used to preview developments at locations such as Royal Albert Wharf, Battersea Power Station, and – in the future – South Quay Plaza.

Holograms guide product selection

While VR simulates a completely alternate visual environment, AR can merge or superimpose digital components with real-life objects. For example, by looking through a Microsoft HoloLens headset or just the camera on any device (phone, tablet etc), users can see new objects holographically appear in front of them. Standing in the real space, they can try out different colours and furnishings, or even check if that armchair is too clunky for that reading corner. This powerful sales aspect is why retail giants such as Pottery Barn and IKEA, among others, are adopting such apps. The potential for previewing commercial space refits and refurbishments is equally exciting. It doesn’t end there either – companies such as Augment and 3D Avenue can make dynamic, on-screen 3D models ‘pop out’ of something as vanilla as a business card, taking your elevator pitch to a whole new level.

Next generation construction workers

Holograms are fun – but what if AR can guide construction works? Companies like Skanska and Trimble are trailing the Daqri Smart Helmet – to aid construction workers onsite. With built-in sensors, powerful processors, and a transparent AR display this futuristic helmet supposedly reveals the ‘unseen in their working world’. It delivers real-time data direct to the user, based on their surroundings, enabling them to visualise and understand their site in ways previously not possible. It can even tell them how to respond to various scenarios the moment they are encountered.

A whole new world

When done well, virtual and augmented reality can not only accurately show off existing or planned products – it can also create real excitement about your project through imaginative storytelling and a complete integration with the senses.

The future is a reality where we are no longer limited by our own imaginations.

This article was written by Emiljia Emma and edited by Laura Jockers in JLL’s Upstream Sustainability Services team

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