Using Virtual Reality To Narrow Design Choices and Get to Sign Off Faster
Virtual reality has become a more mainstream technology in the past couple of years. Where just a few years ago, the cost of adapting the technology was high, an Oculus Rift headset would set you back almost $800, today, you can purchase an affordable variation of VR headset in most big box stores like Best Buy. As virtual reality technology has become more entrenched, many industries are beginning to reap the benefits of immersive VR.
We've written about the benefits to luxury home builders and developers, like eliminating the need for a physical home model, and worldwide distribution of VR assets. Today, we're going to explore the many benefits VR offers the interior design process when it comes time to choose fixtures and finishes, and layout options.
Virtual Reality Accelerates the Entire Design Process
For many of us, envisioning how our new home will look based on CAD drawings and architectural renderings can be difficult. As the process progresses, it will become necessary to introduce the client to the actual elements, finishes, fixtures, lighting paint and flooring during the interior design process.
Traditionally, designing a custom home is time and labor intensive.As construction progresses, the client meets with the interior designer and begins the process of going through samples. The must pick everything from flooring, to countertops, appliances, cabinet styles, colors, lighting and more. This can take a lot of your teams time and energy. Between narrowing materials down to the ones that fit the budget, to defining the style of the space, it can take hours over the course of several weeks to make decisions. Worst of all, many clients have difficulty envisioning what the finished product will look like based on a 12-inch by 12-inch floor tile, or a single cabinet door.
By implementing virtual reality technology during the design process, you can accelerate the entire timeline, all while giving the client a complete understanding of the space using immersive technology.
Using VR to Put Your Clients In Their New Home
Immersive virtual reality can impact the design process in many different ways. First, by placing the client into the space “physically,” they can gain an insight into the finished product that drawings and samples don't provide. It can help to speed up the decision-making process by giving your clients the context to make informed decisions. In fact, immersive VR can work to create a physical and emotional bond for the user by “hard coding” memories of the space created during the tour.
If you used a digital approach during the initial sales process, your client has already experienced an immersive experience. They may have suggested some changes in the initial design like moving the island in the kitchen or removing the wall in the dining room to open up the space. They were presented with architectural renderings of the final physical design changes. The next step of the process is to enhance the experience by placing photorealistic renderings of design elements and materials into the virtual space.
VR allows the interior designer to provide the client with a chance to explore the impact of various materials, furniture and layout, lighting, flooring and more to further conceptualize the space. By using “templated” elements and creating an application based experience using pre-rendered photorealistic images of textures, finishes, materials you can, for example, give your client the ability to “see” their kitchen with three different countertop choices like Carrera marble, soapstone and honed granite.
How Virtual Reality Can Accelerate The Decision Making Process
While the process is a bit labor intensive, the payoff is accelerating the design-build process. By narrowing choices down before rendering, items can then be shifted in near real time. This means your client will have to narrow their choices before the creation of their virtual walkthrough.
The technology exists to create changeable VR experiences as an application-based experience, but the renderings are less realistic due to the computer processing power needed. While this can make the decision process a little less than ideal for your client, it is much more advantageous to the older methods and results in fewer change orders and misunderstandings. Eventually, this will no longer be a problem as the technology catches up to the possibilities it offers designers.
Today, by pre-rendering multiple elements you can provide clients with an accurate image. When you take into account the time necessary to accurately render materials with the qualities of light and luminescence to create a precise and realistic image, the benefits of accelerating the design process far outweigh the cost.
The VR Benefits Take Away
The bottom line, giving your clients the ability to view their home in an immersive context with their choices of finishes and fixtures can create an emotional bond. This results in an accelerated decision-making process which will save time, and in the luxury home development business, time is money! It can reinforce your brand with your clients and make them more invested in the process by giving them the ability to sign off on material choices before materials are even ordered.
As the technology continues to evolve, more elements of the process will be able to be pre-rendered. Through virtual reality, using pre-rendered libraries of materials, fixtures, finishes, and furnishings, the homebuyer and developer will have the ability to follow and modify the home throughout the entire lifecycle of the design-build process.