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  • Chris Seher

3.5+ Billion reasons to use VR in the CRE Industry

The use of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) appears poised to experience the widespread use across industries, including real estate, that has been predicted for several years. One of the biggest hurdles of broader use previously was how to easily deliver the technology to end users. However, a new standard called WebXR is now rapidly being deployed to make VR and AR experiences over the web ubiquitous. Until recently VR and AR applications had to be created using different software standards to support delivery to different types of devices. If an application needed to support both VR and AR – or in some cases support multiple devices (e.g. iPhone vs Android), it could require more than double the cost.

WebXR eliminates this issue and the related costs.It is analogous to the difference between an operator connected call (if you are old enough to remember that service) versus voice dialing from your mobile. Now solution providers can create an application once and have it support VR and AR models that work on countless devices everywhere. WebXR-compatible devices include everything from fully-immersive 3D headsets, to eyeglasses which overlay graphics atop the real-world, to handheld smartphones phones – for which there are now more than 3.5 billion smartphone users worldwide – that’s 45% of the world’s population.

As a brief refresher, VR is a fully immersive experience that allows users to move in any direction and interact or make changes to a completely computer-generated scene. A subset of VR is 360-degree photos, rendered images and videos where users can look around but are not able to change the scene. AR provides the user with the ability to add virtual content or layers (augment) to the real-world around them. Mixed Reality (MR) allows the virtual and real objects to interact with each other. We now add Extended Reality (XR), which one can think of as an over-arching umbrella that includes all forms (VR, 360, AR, and MR) which is depicted in the graphic, below.

WebXR has already been integrated into the major web browsers (Google Chrome, MS Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Samsung Internet for iOS, Android, Windows) as well as fully integrated into Facebook and other social media sites. With this foundation in place, it is expected that adoption into different industries will soon start to occur.

What makes WebXR such a profound development is the fact that it automatically finds and detects whether your device supports VR or AR and then renders the 3D scene as needed for your device. It also tracks user movements and interactions, which can provide valuable information from a sales perspective. Amazingly, none of this requires an app or installation of any kind. All you need is your browser and a URL.

Another accelerator for this technology is the growing availability of 5G internet, which is expected to be pervasive in the next 12 to 24 months.The combination of WebXR, 5G and the fact that two-thirds of the world is now connected via mobile devices (and by 2025 72% of internet users will access the web solely via smartphones) means that use of Extended Reality will grow rapidly. This could materially alter the way real estate professionals market and tour properties and spaces.

In a short time a smartphone user will be able to walk through a property virtually (even before it’s built), select their preferred finishes and furnishings, and instantly determine the cost. Using AR they could see and experience an unbuilt property on its proposed site while looking out the virtual windows and experiencing a real-world view.

Below are two video examples of WebXR applications:

WebXR is the big break for VR and AR on a massive scale, particularly with the advent of 5G. The current methods of access and deployment of VR and AR limits the number of likely users. By making this content accessible on the open web, nearly everyone will be able to experience it.

Delivering these experiences using WebXR drastically lowers the barriers to entry and will only fuel the desire to create more interesting VR and AR applications. Accessibility on smartphones makes it easy to see a future where people will expect available VR models and AR-based information when out shopping properties. This will change how listings are presented and marketing materials are prepared. Utilizing these tools will be essential to remain competitive.

Please view our previous blog series Different ‘Realities’ for CRE to learn how (1) VR,

(2) 360, and (3) AR/MR have and will continue to impact the CRE industry.

You can also attend a free demonstration to see how Pix-VR can give your business the edge it needs to compete in the modern market.

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