Virtual and cross reality systems are yet to go truly mainstream outside computer gaming, but that could soon change as the platforms become open to developers, architects and interior designers
The potential application of virtual and cross reality in enterprise is enormous, particularly when visual and engaging experiences clinch sales.
As a result, the real estate industry will see some of the biggest growth in its use, given its need to demonstrate what properties will be like to walk around and live in, before they are built. Its normal practice remains remarkably low tech, with sellers promoting properties with glossy brochures and generally quite basic information. The same is true for architects and interior designers wanting to demonstrate their ideas much better.
The latest VR and XR systems enable potential customers to view and take a virtual look around developments interactively, and they can be anywhere in the world while they are doing so.
Our aim is to simplify and democratise virtual experience creation
“The traditional way of promoting new luxury properties in different locations is that the builder will go out and conduct roadshows, one in the United States, one in Singapore, and around the world. So you have people carrying brochures or models, trying hard to convey what it will really be like,” explains Shailesh Goswami (Gosu), founder and chief executive of FOYR, which creates VR and XR systems for the industry.
“Building firms can use our technology to share links to virtual experiences. There are no headsets and there’s no special technology; everyone can see what the new property will actually be like using their normal devices.”
FOYR’s systems are available on any web browser or smartphone, and they are designed to be interactive and intuitive. Typically, architects, interior designers or property developers would have found it complicated and expensive to present a virtual reality experience to a customer, but with the new technology, the experiences can be easily rolled out from their designs, automatically rendered for low-power devices.
A crucial element of making this effective is a focus on transferring content from legacy software already in use by architecture, design or property development firms, so they are not obliged to start from scratch. Integrating pertinent data is also a key part of the process, with end-users able to request real-world details about specific properties or designs they are encountering virtually.
“Our aim is to simplify and democratise virtual experience creation,” says Mr Goswami. “Part of that is about making it extremely easy for people to use. We want to make it possible for anyone to create and offer virtual designs and experiences very quickly.”
For FOYR, there is a dual focus on making platforms as easy to use as possible, while also making them powerful enough to be relied upon for demonstrating quality design in detail. To this end, the integration of artificial intelligence has become vital because it can be used routinely and automatically to resolve any experience issues, as well as recognising existing complex characteristics on any design project for faster rendering.
For the growth of VR and XR as a whole, Mr Goswami views the wider reliance on specially designed headsets as a lingering hindrance. Making VR experiences available via browsers and smartphones will go a long way towards democratising the processes across sectors.
“I still think it’s going to be a couple of years before some of these alternatives become really widespread,” he says. “Until then our work is to simplify the whole VR and virtual experience creation process and make it so that you can write the code. To sell property designs or other experiential products, you have to have powerful VR that runs on everyone’s normal devices.”
To find out more about simple and accessible VR and XR in real estate and interior design please visit foyr.com