Earlier this year we told you about Metricon’s use virtual reality to show off their display homes. Well now thanks to the GearVR and Metricon, I’ve been able to get hands-on with the experience from home. Thanks to Android’s flexibility, sideloading allowed for the necessary content files to be added to my phone, which then appear inside the experience.
After putting on the GearVR headset, I jumped straight into the MatterPort app. For those not familiar with Matterport, they’re the company responsible for the hardweare capture devices that make a lot of these kind of real world / virtual world, experiences possible.
Loading up the Matterport app offers two selections from a hexagonal grid interface. The first being their included samples available to anyone who downloads the app, but the second was the sideloaded content from Metricon. There are currently 4 properties to choose from.
- Delta 22 Chateau Facade
- Chelsea 33 Oakpark Facade
- Denver 46 Vogue Facade
- Somerset 59 Somerset Facade
To select from the four, simply look at the thumbnail and hold there for a couple of seconds to confirm your selection. Once you jump into a Metricon house, you can instantly look around the room, and are reminded of the GearVR’s ability to accurately track head movements and correlate them to the visuals in front of your eyes. This successfully tricks your brain into thinking that you are actually in the display home. Throughout each home are a series of blue circles which indicate positions you can move to, providing a different vantage point of the room, or even move between rooms.
This simply navigation makes it easy for almost anyone to use. Moving to one of the alternate camera locations in the environment, again is a simple look-to-select experience. When you move between the positions, the visuals fade, attempting to give the effect of watching a video as you move from one place to another. In reality this is simply an effect and something you definitely need to be aware of, is keeping your head positioned still while this transition is happening.
The reason you’ll want to keep looking in the same direction, is that if you turn you’re head while the 1-2second transition is happening, you feel very aware of the motion effect. Its not severe enough to actually make you sick, but is uncomfortable. With practice, it does become easy to look around, look at new location dot, keep still, then look around again once you’re there, just takes some getting used to.
Each home has dozens of locations, each internal room with one or more places to look around from. This great coverage helps potential buyers investigate the rooms they’re focusing on. Head to the kitchen and look at the different styles of island benches. Head to the ensuite to see different choices for shower heads. Even something like room sizes is an important opportunity for VR. This was especially apparent when you jump between a house of 22sq, compared to the massive 59sq.
There’s certainly a lot of room for this technology to grow and that certainly should include camera locations out the front to see the facade, as well as the back yard to get a better sense of alfresco sizes. Possibly the biggest opportunity is to include some information around products in the experience. If I see something I fall in love with in the experience, why can’t I look at it for more information and even get a price to include that option in my build?
It would be sensational to see some assemblance of augmentation in the Metricon experience, this would allow on-the-fly selections from the user to be overlayed to what they’re looking at. Considering one or two sinks in the Ensuite, then swipe and see both options, complete with details and pricing. Of course once you’ve walked virtually through your house, made your selections, there should definitely be a way to save those selections for viewing by someone else (a partner) or to have them added to a new home contract.
The Studio M showroom would be the perfect location to offer to customers. After spending a day at Studio M, the incredibly efficient day of selections could have been improved dramatically if my wife and I could have looked at the products ahead of time. When you make selections on products in your home, you’re looking at a lot more than what static images on the website can provide, you want to get up close and personal with the different finishes of doors, vanities, carpet and benchtops, you want to see how the light reflects of bricks and paint at different angles. The more I think about it, Studio M should absolutely be a VR experience, especially given their limited locations that leaves new home builders travelling a 4hrs+ round trip.
Overall the Metricon VR experience is a great starting point, but this is absolutely just the start. Scanning more display homes is of course the natrual next step, but the suggestions I’ve detailed above need to happen shortly after. Competition will happen quickly and I wouldn’t mind better that 360 video cameras, rather than still cameras will arrive sooner, rather than later. This could provide a real feeling of how a home works with people walking around and interacting with the environment.