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How Immersive Tech Continues to Find a Home in Architecture and Real Estate

    Guest Post

    Virtual reality has radically changed almost every creative field, and architecture is no exception. Since its inception in the industry a couple of years ago, immersive tech quickly found an appropriate home in real estate and architecture, and proved itself to be one of the most valuable tools to communicate a property design.

    The technology provides architects and clients the ability to work as true collaborators in the design of a project, at a faster rate. It allows for property walkthroughs pre-build, with a fully-visualized interior prior to deciding all the details. What was once considered a novelty has become a groundbreaking resource to design, communicate and sell a property. Here are some of the most intriguing ways immersive technology is changing how architects work and function.

    Top-Tier Visualization

    For an architect to sell their vision, every building begins as a story. To successfully tell this story, architects must paint a picture of the functionality and purpose the property can bring to someone’s life. Architects have traditionally been communicating these visual narratives through drawings, 3D models and 2D digital simulations, and although these methods have proven to work, they do not allow a person to truly feel as if they are inside the property.

    When VR was introduced, it turned the industry on its head, as it had the power to immerse a person into a building and elicit a true sense of its layout. Since then, the immersive toolbox has been leading architects to drastically save on costs and time.

    PSVR headset was developed from Sony engineers tinkering in a Lab building quietly without any executive direction.

    Floor plan layouts and building design flaws are quickly realized prior to breaking ground, poising VR as a discovery tool. As someone steps into the building, they are presented with the option to walk around and get a feel for the interior and exterior of a property. If anything does not contribute to the overall use or intended look of the building, it can easily be changed.

    Collaborative Design

    At its core, architecture is a social art. Virtual and augmented reality open an arena for architects, interior designers, and clients to virtually come together and work on a design. The collaborative process in architecture is an essential step that can also be tedious and extremely time-consuming. Professionals can change a window, door, hallway, etc. all from a headset, drastically cutting down time and fees.

    VR as a Teaching Tool

    Not only can VR help communicate a property to potential clients far better than any other tool, it can also administer lessons to the future generation of architects. VR has proven itself to be a successful training tool in the medical and automotive industries; architecture and real estate can now be added to the list.

    Students get a virtual feel for the architectural process, seeing how each decision and action can bring a big-picture idea to fruition. Beyond that, it provides the opportunity to explore and experience famous architectural sites from the comfort of a classroom. With a headset, they can get a 360-degree view of the many different architectural styles and techniques from around the world.

    iGlasses. While today Apple is infamous for their use of “i” in their products, they weren’t the first ones to come up with the idea. In the 1990s, a company known as Virtual I/O came up with a headset that was capable of color 3D stereoscopic vision, as well as head tracking. Known as iGlasses, the device had a price tag of just under $1000. While the glasses were fully capable of delivering an immersive experience, they didn’t truly ignite the consumer market.

    Closing the Deal

    Selling the vision or property is typically the final step passed on to a real estate agent. The agents have to wait until the building is complete in order to step in and build out a selling strategy and messaging points. With VR, that is no longer the case. Real estate agents can get an early preview of the final product, allowing for a headstart on finding the perfect client.

    Once the strategy is established, VR can continue to be an essential visualization tool in the sales process, as it can communicate the final property to a client. Potential buyers can get a virtual tour of the product, walking through rooms and experiencing the views, decor and more.

    Recently, real estate agencies have begun hosting virtual open houses prior to the home being built. Headsets are set up on the site where a property will be constructed and potential buyers can get an authentic, 360-degree experience of how the property will look and feel.

    The fusion of architecture and technology marks an evolutionary chapter for the industry. Experiencing these innovations first-hand, it’s exciting to see how the industry will continue to be propelled forward with VR, because this is only the beginning of its evolution of the AEC industries. The tech is still on the rise and has lots of ground to cover on the solutions it can provide. As big players in VR and AR– like Oculus, HTC and Sony– keep innovating and introducing new hardware and software, the tech will continue to improve the way architecture is designed, taught and sold.

    The State of VR in the Early 2000s. After so many capable devices on the market and so many let downs that didn’t truly capture the audience they deserved, virtual reality didn’t see much development in the early 2000s. Virtual Reality was at the background in the development of new technology. It took a step back, letting personal devices, such as computers, laptops, iPods, smartphones and tablets take over, which may very well have been the right step. With the development of new technologies, a new door was opened for virtual reality, because now head-tracking and capable displays were cheaper than ever before. However, it wasn’t before one start-up company mentioned the idea, that Virtual Reality truly took off on the consumer’s market.

    Ignacio Rodriguez - CEO of IR Architects, and Architecture Virtual Reality (AVR) Studio

    About the Author
    Ignacio Rodriguez is the CEO of IR Architects, and Architecture Virtual Reality (AVR) Studio. He is a self-made and visually-driven architect with an impressive slate of luxury real estate successes throughout Southern California. Leading IRA to constant advancement and innovation, Rodriguez recently launched AVR, an XR studio offering virtual property inspections for clients, developers, and financial institutions to facilitate the development process.
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