2016 is set to be the year of virtual reality, with several companies due to release new hardware and software in the near future. The question is, will virtual reality go the way of 3D televisions and become more fad than feature? The far reaching implications of VR suggest not. In fact, before too long, VR could be simplifying all manner of things – like purchasing foreign property.
The advancement of virtual reality technology has been swift in recent years thanks to its potential for gaming and the profit to be made from the huge global gaming market. However, this fascinating technology is certainly not limited to the fields of entertainment.
One of the major positive implications of virtual reality technology is its ability to transport anyone to a different place irrespective of their situation. So, for example, those who cannot visit certain places because of access issues will be able to take a virtual tour. Virtual reality technology is already being used to help with mental illness, especially aiding those who suffer from agoraphobia.
Another major advantage that VR technology brings is the ability for much more detailed training scenarios in a plethora of fields. Medical training will be as close to reality as possible, learning to drive or fly could be dramatically altered, military training and emergency services training could be far more realistic.
Another very exciting development from the rise of VR is the potential for significant changes to real estate, especially the purchase of overseas property.
VR is set to have a massive impact on real estate. For those wishing to purchase property overseas, for example, being able to view a house as if you were there without paying for flights could be a real game changer.
James Dearsley, a leading expert in property technology, agrees that virtual reality will have a massive impact on the world of real estate, especially for those wishing to purchase overseas property.
‘Having been involved in the overseas property industry for a number of years I recognise the need for a technology like virtual reality to aid the sales process. Traditionally, the nature of “viewing trips” were popular but VR offers the opportunity to alleviate the time consuming nature of these. Trips out are fundamentally inefficient especially considering most have little or no knowledge of the region they are buying in. VR, which is most likely to hit far more of a mass market through 2016, could change this and allow people to filter out properties they do not wish to see immediately. The immersive feel of VR will give people a far more realistic idea of whether they would like to live somewhere and hence it should be a tool the industry relishes – however much time they are saving buyers, they are also saving themselves.’
James Dearsley does, however, feel the technology will take a little time to be fully adopted by the industry, stating;
‘It will take the industry a little bit of time to adjust and there is a small amount of capital expenditure needed, in the short term, but there is a huge potential for first mover advantage. The availability of 360 degree cameras are now far more cost effective and widespread and with YouTube and Facebook now allowing immersive 360 degree video uploads, it is an obvious choice – not to mention the fact that people, should they have a VR viewer, are able to view these clips in virtual reality. Now is the time to look forward and prepare yourself for the future of property marketing; VR is not going away.’
Virtual tours of property are nothing new and many estate agents have been using 360° cameras for some time. So what difference would using a VR headset make to viewing a property virtually, compared with the current technology?
A common complaint of many having to rely on the current virtual tours to view property is the difficulty in gauging scale. Although you can move freely through a space and view all angles, you are still essentially interacting with a number of photos.
Wearing a headset dramatically changes this. You will feel like you are actually walking around the property itself, with the image changing in line with your eyes rather than at the click of a mouse. This will significantly improve the sense of scale.
The ability to walk around an overseas property without leaving your own home would have seemed like science fiction only a few years ago, but the reality is that the technology is already there. As James Dearsley so wisely stated, ‘VR is not going away.’
If you’re considering buying a property overseas in the near future but don’t think you’ll be able to take reconnaissance trips to your country of choice in order to view potential homes, get in touch with property agents local to the area. While they might not be able to send you on a VR tour just yet, they may be willing to take you on a ‘Skype tour’ of properties you’re interested in. Having to rely on photos when making such a significant purchase can cause concern, so it’s well worth seeing what other options are available.
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