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The Housing Innovation Map

Immersive Applications

Immersive technologies are changing how we experience the world around us. When it comes to housing, new products and services enabled by these technologies are revolutionising the way we view our new homes and furniture. With immersive applications increasingly embedded in traditional housing activities, we will be able to do much more than before and there will be a boost in productivity in the housing sector.

Driving forces

  • Viewing of properties for buying/leasing has been very physical and time-consuming;
  • For house building or retrofitting, it is traditionally not possible to get a realistic feeling of what the property may look like until it is physically completed;
  • When furnishing homes, it is difficult to know in advance how well the new furniture will match with the property and existing furniture.

Immersive applications in practice

Supported by technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), immersive applications in housing are those enabling us to view any built or unbuilt properties and interiors remotely, and within a virtual and immersive environment.

In sales and leasing, virtual property viewing is one of the most adopted immersive housing applications. With the support of 360° cameras, landlords or estate agents can now take panoramic photos of different parts of a property and even combine them to create a virtual tour via supporting VR application platforms. By embedding them into the corresponding advertising channels, potential renters or buyers could then navigate the property remotely on their screen or with their VR headset, and get the same feeling of physically viewing the property. Such applications create great efficiency by relieving the supply side from the time-consuming viewing arrangement and enabling the demand side to conveniently compare across more options in the same amount of time.

In house building or retrofitting projects, virtual design and showcasing is becoming increasingly popular. For architects or interior designers, such applications empower them to design homes within a VR environment. They could alter property layout and components, replace colour and textures, and instantly view all the changes made within a vivid and immersive environment. For developers or property buyers, such applications allow them to virtually navigate inside or outside the simulated 3D model of the property even before the construction starts. In this way, they could make a more informed decision on the design or the purchase.

For interior design, AR-enabled shopping applications are making home decoration and improvement more efficient and immersive. For example, with mobile apps occupants could shop online and virtually place 3D models of furniture in their homes. Through their mobile screen, they can view from different angles whether the items fit into their homes and match with existing or other selected decor. The IKEA Place app is a typical example. Enabling furniture shopping to be done at home, the application brings both convenience and new levels of engagement and visualisation which reduces the risk inherent with home improvement choices.

Benefits and impact

Enabled by VR and AR technologies, immersive applications are making our traditional housing activities much more efficient and engaging. With panoramic photos or virtual tours, property viewing could now be done anywhere and at any time. Combining VR and 3D simulation, it is increasingly possible to get a real feeling of what a property will eventually look like before it is built.

With AR applications, occupants could now virtually ‘try’ new decor in their homes before buying. These applications can help save time and also reduce the risks of design failure or mis-purchase.

Have you got any thoughts on immersive applications?

Are you interested in sharing your insights in this area? If you’d like to let us know about some of the projects you’re working on in this space, please email futureofhousing@cp.catapult.org.uk.

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