How does VR and AR work in the real estate sector? – Times of India

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Dileep PG is Head of Technology, BuildNext .
Here’s how VR (Virtual reality) and AR (Augmented reality) technologies will continue to play an important role in the Construction and Real Estate sector
With technology making deeper inroads into every segment, how can a sector as large and significant like real estate be left untouched? Real estate is often considered the most significant investment and largest asset for a family, but continues to be looked at in a very traditional way. But with changing times and technology touching the sector in a big way, a lot of new trends are coming up.
While it may be difficult to decode the various technologies that have their way in the sector, it’s important to discuss some that are revolutionising the sector in an unprecedented way.
The idea of merging tech with real estate is still a fairly new concept; the idea is not to replace processes with technology, but to attain higher levels of efficiency, transparency and ability to fulfil commitments. Technology and real estate go very well together in terms of saving time and reducing costs and resource wastage, which benefits both the buyers, developers and sustainability at large.
With the advent of VR and AR, it is whole new experience for buyers to get a real time perspective and experience of to-be-constructed as well as under-construction properties.
Many players who understand the technology well are providing significant impetus to the sector. They do realise the opportunity and the timing to leverage the power of technology and be part of the larger revolution.
Virtual Reality
The rapid adoption of Virtual Reality in the sector helps provide customers a highly engaging and immersive experience. With the use of VR in combination with other technologies like cloud that are being deployed in real estate today, the sector is witnessing a holistic transformation, across segments – be it residential, commercial or industrial.
There is immense potential impact that the right mix of key cutting-edge technologies can make especially on residential real estate segment. From small-medium independent housing to villa communities and large apartment projects, these technologies can enhance efficiency, transparency, and functionality. 
Today, when many properties that are being sold are under-construction and with buyers often struggling to visualise their new home, VR helps them get a real time experience of their home as built. VR solutions provides customers with a lifelike virtual tour and an experience, which allows them to make informed decisions.
Also, with extensive customisations and personalisation’s involved in construction, VR helps one get an almost perfectly conceived product. In fact, VR has very evident and impactful use, spreading across design visualisation, customisation, interior design and product selection across project sizes and locations. One of the biggest benefits of using VR over more commonly used 3D rendering techniques is high grade of immersion or a realistic feeling of actually being there. This not only engages customers but also helps them understand spaces and scales like never before. Such an experience lets consumers have a space that they envisaged over a period of time and want to actualise like none other.
For small-medium independent projects, this helps customise design and make product choices uniquely suited to individual buyer preferences. For the bigger ones, it is more about transparency and timely completion. 
Many hi-touch and hi-tech projects are also using high-end VR experiences as an extremely effective sales tool. The use of tech is essentially a much more dynamic, engaging, efficient and highly cost-effective alternative and can very well supplement traditional physical model and samples.
360-degree interior design visualisations, Virtual Tours and mobile based AR/VR experiences are also more commonly being utilised across projects of all sizes. With these, customers have the convenience and comfort of being wherever they are, and yet, keep a close eye on all they need to go into their homes. It is fast becoming the standard for the industry and is set to intrude the secondary and re-sale markets soon.
Augmented Reality
While not as evident as VR, AR too over a period of time, has made its inroads in the sector and has some niche use cases in construction and Real Estate. The most obvious use cases are around fitting and furnishing that are used in different parts of the home. Different fittings and fixtures such as sanitary products and other fixtures like cabinets can be overlaid on to the finished structure to perfectly finalise selection.
Interestingly, movables such as furniture can very well be visualised in place, bundled and sold more effectively through effective use of AR. For large projects, AR can be used to showcase and sell interior design, fittings, and furniture on bare shell structures. AR also has a unique use case in the construction process where design/BIM information can be overlaid on to the construction site to ensure accurate execution as well as to perform automated measurements and quality checks on site.
While the use of AR/VR might still be at its nascent stages of development and have its own set of limitations at the moment – accessibility, affordability etc., they are expected to be resolved over a period of time. As of now, non-immersive AR tech, using mobile phone cameras, can be used to implement many of the use cases with reasonable effectiveness.
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Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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