Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality For Builders

Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality For Builders

Virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality are changing the way luxury properties are marketed.


Virtual reality is in the beginning stages of impacting our everyday world. Since the release of the Occulus Rift last year, VR has become the newest frontier of technological innovation. Regarding marketing luxury real estate it's changing the entire business model.

Because virtual reality is still in its infancy, different technologies are often lumped together to make it easier for consumers. The fact is, there are several different technologies that are often referred to as “virtual reality.” They are:  “true” virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality. Understanding the difference can help you to employ the right technology at the right time to market luxury properties.

Let's look at VR, AR, and MR and see why it's important to choose the correct technology for your luxury real estate marketing.

What is virtual reality?

While the term has been around since the 1960's, until recently the technology needed to drive VR was not powerful enough to offer a “true” virtual experience. The definition of “virtual” means near, and “reality” is what we experience with our senses as human beings. So virtual reality can be interpreted as “near-reality.” Because this meaning is a bit vague, the term virtual reality is often used to describe all forms of technology-driven,“altered reality.”

True VR is an immersive experience. Technically, it is a closed, computer-generated stereoscopic virtual environment including a 3D aural soundscape with no input from or interaction with the real world.  Virtual reality is experienced by donning a headset. This headset blocks the real world around you, and once you put it on, you're perceptually transported into a new reality.

With a headset, potential buyers can be placed directly into their new home for a photorealistic tour through a building that doesn't physically exist. This not only accelerates the selling process butalso creates the same emotional bond as a physical tour, without the expense of building a model. As the technology continues to evolve, other senses will be incorporated to make the experience even more “real” to the user.

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What is augmented reality?

Recent advances in VR have birthed new technologies such as augmented reality. Much like VR, at its core augmented reality creates 3D models on a computer that are displayed in various ways.  Users can then navigate these realities.

Augmented reality is so new that there isn't yet a clear definition. Augmented reality is a live or indirect view of a physical real world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input like audio, video, graphics or GPS data.  AR offers a modified view, enhancing the users current perception of reality, unlike VR which completely replaces the real world with a simulated one. With the help of advanced AR, adding computer vision and object recognition, the real world becomes digitally manipulable. Information about the environment and objects is overlaid on the real world.

For luxury developers, this means your sales team can bring a prospective client to an empty lot, take a tablet and show the actual position of a proposed home on the screen as it would appear on the lot. By overlaying information about the environment and it's objects in the real world, information can be overlaid in exact alignment with where they actually will exist in space.

What about mixed reality?

Like augmented reality, MR is a new technology developed from virtual reality. It's the merging of real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualizations where both “real” physical objects and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time. MR combines the best aspects of both AR and VR to create a hybrid of the two.

In a mixed reality environment, users seamless navigate through both real and virtual environments simultaneously. While not anchored entirely in a virtual world, virtual objects are displayed in the real world space, making virtual interaction appear real. Interactions mimic natural behavior. Objects get bigger as you get closer and change perspective as you move around them.

MR has implications in the customization and design process of building a new home. For example, a buyer can be standing in the kitchen space and view pre-rendered objects in near real time within that space. For example, designers can pre-render a selection of cabinet faces, countertops, and flooring, taking their clients through the various potential iterations of their future kitchen. This can speed up the design process and potentially eliminate change orders saving time and money.

Virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality are changing the way luxury properties are marketed. Using these technologies, it's possible to take a client through the entire custom home building process, from designing the physical space to showing it in the environment, through the interior design and customization process.

At Village Features we've been providing clients like Kiawah Island Resorts in South Carolina, with virtual reality marketing tools that have provided double-digits sales growth. If you'd like to learn more about how VR, AR and MR technology can differentiate your business, increase sales, and lower your development costs, give us a call today!

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