With all the buzz on new tech like Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift, everyone predicted that virtual reality would be a big real estate technology hit in 2016.
So, it’s no surprise that those in the homebuilding industry would jump in on the action. In fact, Builders Digital Experience (BDX, the parent company of New Home Source) is introducing at the 2016 International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas its own brand of virtual reality that takes homeshoppers into a virtual world where they can tour a home that may not even exist yet.
“One of the biggest tech trends over the past year has been virtual reality,” says BDX technology manager Frank Haggerty, who spearheaded the introduction of virtual reality home viewers to the company. “And with the release of inexpensive cardboard VR viewers, it seemed like a no-brainer to pair the beautiful photorealistic renderings we already create with this technology and bring a unique experience to new home buying.”
Enter the BDXvr viewer and mobile app, a new way to showcase 3-D modeled homes that allows anyone with a VR viewer to walk virtually from room to room and tour a home that hasn’t even been built.
On display at IBS, the BDX team showcased their new app on devices like Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR and View Master. But how those devices were powered my surprise you — they’re viewable by using a smart phone.
“It all starts with the app,” says Haggerty. “Once downloaded, you place your phone into the viewer and hold it up to your eyes. When you’re all set with the instructions, you’ll be able to choose the home you’d like to view and then you get virtually transported into it.”
Once there, you can move around the floor plan by focusing your eyes on the hotspots you see between rooms.
“When you hold your stare on the hotspot, you get transported into that room you just picked,” says Haggerty. “It’s a great self-guided tour and it’s a really fun experience.”
As homebuilders look to heighten the home shopping experience with new technologies, BDX anticipates that shoppers will soon start seeing the VR viewer at various builder sales centers. Sales reps will send shoppers home with a VR viewer and help them download the app on a smartphone so that they can have the capability to tour the home any time they wish.
In addition, shoppers will be able to share the same experience with their spouse, children, family and friends and get even more help in choosing their dream home. Not to mention that with their own personal VR viewer, users will also have access to many other VR apps and games from their favorite app store.
Worried that you might be a little technologically challenged to operate yet another new gadget on your new-home hunt? “Anyone with a smartphone and a cardboard viewer can easily use this technology and experience new home tours at their convenience,” says Haggerty.
Welcome to the future of new home shopping!
Drew Knight is a freelance writer for Builders Digital Experience (BDX). He graduated from Texas A&M University in December 2014 with a degree in agricultural communications and journalism.