Virtual realty – a reality in India!

October 4, 2016 / By  

The era of virtual reality (VR) has arrived as it permeates the world of broadcasting and gaming. The Rio Olympics – a VR-compliant event broadcast and Pokemon Go – an augmented realty (AR) gaming platform – are recent examples. Real estate too has taken a page from it and customised it for a better B2C experience, especially residential real estate. Classified ads in newspapers have moved to online portals or apps, and marketing efforts having transcended from mere listings and renders to use of 360-degree views, utilising drone technology and VR gear. To learn more about VR and home selling in Asia Pacific, please take a look at my colleague Hannah’s blog released in June 2016.

In India too, the trend is picking up as we notice developers taking baby steps by including 360-degree views of sample flats along with the conventional two-dimensional plans and architect’s video renders. A careful examination into most of these renderings will, however, result in the customer noticing a caveat below – “images and views depicted may be different from actual and is for representative purpose only”. Developers are trying to remove this very point of contention and uncertainty by directly invoking VR/AR technology into the customer experience to remove or narrow the gap between the depicted and actual.

A Japanese-funded real estate firm’s project in Bangalore is doing exactly this, by not only giving a custom walkthrough of the project but also a view of immediate surroundings from balconies and other vantage points, and actual simulation of sunlight during any particular time of the day. Developers believe that the use of the virtual environment allows them to better understand the customers’ needs and likes, and extends their interaction with the customer. Most homebuyers have difficulty visualising how the finished product will look and also expect price reductions if bought before construction is completed. However, if you can help someone better appreciate what a property will actually look like, it is easier for them to grasp the real value.

While this technology may still be in its infancy, a closer look shows why it is a plausible game changer as it permeates into the construction industry, interior design, etc. For instance, Urban Ladder, an Indian online furniture store, boosted product sales by 40 per cent following the introduction of an AR mobile app which allows customers to visualise how furniture would fit in their room. Imagine when the same technology is tweaked for project pitches to clients in commercial realty, project management discussions with architects, or even for clients looking at a deal in another country – possibly omitting the cost and time of travel.

The potential for VR application in real estate will only grow as more start-ups foray into the sector and costs are drastically brought down. In addition, as India’s homebuyers comprise a large section from the younger generation, virtual visits to properties are only likely to grow in the future.

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