Shobhit Agarwal, MD-
Capital Markets, JLL
Technology, over the past decade, has deepen its presence in every parts of life be it shopping through online retail portals or video calling over internet or payment via E-wallets. The idea behind these innovations is to simplify the work by limiting the time consuming physical movements. And so far, they have succeeded in achieving desired results with excellent adaptation across the globe. A new kid on the block is Virtual Reality (VR) – a technology where you can be part of a situation without physically being present there.
By large, we have heard about this technology in gaming. The user wears the VR gadget and then plays the game with gestures or body movements which may be a war like situation, a penalty shootout, a flight simulation, a car racing etc. While the games are not new to the player who has played it with either joystick or keyboards, the presence in the real situation gives experience a world of change.
The same VR technology has recently entered in the real estate space. However, the usage has been largely restricted to marketing. This is a step ahead from project walkthrough. Once the material is created, the user, through the VR gadget, can enter in the physical property and check as is basis. The user, unlike earlier, can walk into the property with 360 degree view that enables him to understand the property in detail. And for this, you don’t need to take out time from your busy schedule; you can do it while sitting on the work desk or playing with the kids. In addition to the time saving, it provides you an opportunity to compare various options. Many times, as a buyer, we see multiple options and then miss out the finer details of a specific option which might not be the case with VR. It also lets you get the feel of the property by yourself rather than getting biased with sales person’s pitch. Even for corporates, where the visitor to the property is generally not the final decision maker, a decision to finalise a property (ex negotiations) can be made much faster.
So far, the technology has been put to limited usage, but once stabilised, the user can enhance the experience to different level. While right now it is just restricted to see the property, one can see how their “home” will look like. They can discuss over selection of colours of the walls with a gesture or decide which of the existing furniture can fit their new home. They can also refer to online options and pick up stuff to fit in the newer location. Or finalise the preferred option and then share with the room mate / spouse to see if any modifications required. In case of confusion, they may opt to enable the audio commentary for a specific room or nearby locations which can serve as a guide to them.
In this article, I have highlighted just a few of the many probable usage of the VR technology and it is upon the industry how deep they want to take it and how sweeter the user experience can be. Considering the cost involved, currently the VR technology is largely used to market high end properties in India but with entry of newer technology providers, it should reach to majority in coming years. While the physical visit cannot be taken out of the equation before finalising the property, the technology can definitely help in narrowing the range of options which is, by no means, a simple task.