Thursday 23 February 2017

Take a look at this....new home viewers get virtual tour with VR headsets

Mark Keenan, residential property editor

New home viewers for one scheme in Dublin are this week donning high tech headsets to “tour” houses that haven’t yet been built.

The Samsung Gear Virtual Reality (VR) headsets are being worn by the “viewers” of the Rokeby Park scheme in Lucan Village which agents Sherry FitzGerald claim is the first housing development in Ireland ever to be rendered in VR.

Virtual technology using headsets has been around since 1990 but has not broken through into mainstream until recently.

The headsets show viewers a 3D recreation which makes it look like they are “walking through” the homes which have yet to be constructed.

The move is a precursor to VR headset technology being available for all homes for sale across the Sherry Fitzgerald network.

The estate agency group approached Samsung to work with them on the project as part of a wider business initiative to monitor global technology developments.

The headsets were chosen because of their ability to provide a comfortable, easy to use, high quality 360 degree experiences of new properties for interested house hunters.

The Virtual Reality platform has been tested on two fully functioning VR walk throughs of new client home schemes as well as completed extensive user testing and feedback.

Working with a local environment artist, they created a virtual reality walkthrough of one of the houses - letting potential purchasers experience a more life like view of the properties in the development than could be offered by simple floor plans or small scale models.  

Ivan Gaine, Head of New Homes at Sherry FitzGerald said “The freedom it gives our viewers to go on a virtual walk through of an unbuilt property and appreciate the proportions of the rooms, see the views from the window and experience the expected finish of a show house all by simply putting on a headset, is very futuristic.

“The Samsung VR walkthrough is now one of the suite of marketing tools available to our developer clients and initial reaction from our clients and our ultimate buyer customers is overwhelmingly positive. We have also developed 3D printed models and touch screen technology at many of our launches and marketing suites.”

Adrian McInerney of Samsung Ireland commented: “We are already working with a number of companies in other regions and industries to create similar user experiences. For example, Audi used the Gear VR headset to create the first digital car showroom and offer customers the ability to test drive new cars. “

Joanne Geary of Sherry FitzGerald, added that the agency now plans to have VR Headsets in every one of its offices around the country to allow buyers to “virtually view” any property on its  books simply by viewing through the VR Headset. “The technology is just as relevant for large scale commercial developments where we can model up what an office building will look like and conduct a viewing of for office or retail leasing purposes for example. The opportunities are endless and our journey has just begun.”

Virtual reality technology has been with us for over a generation but has been slow to make it into modern everyday usage. The Maze War 3D computer game first introduced the concept of an online virtual world in 1973 in the United States. 

The public in these Islands were first shown the marvels of Virtual Reality by headset in London’s Trocodero Centre in the early 1990’s where they could pay to experience a 3D“walkthrough”  of a simulated environment.

Second Life, managed by Linden Labs, is a virtual online world and social community which users can access for free and is still going strong almost 13 years after its launch in 2003.

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