Showing Property in Virtual Reality (VR) – Latest techniques

Author - James Birch
Published - 15/08/2017
News

VRNET is a software tool for the property industry that allows 3D models to be converted into virtual reality demos/showrooms, but we like to keep an eye on other ways to show property in virtual reality and have been researching the various techniques available. Here, we will look into some interesting ways to show property visualizations in VR and give our opinion on the pros and cons of each.

360 Video/Photography

Most people who have checked out VR will likely have seen a 360 video. 360 videos are [generally] created by a camera with various lenses, with the imagery “stitched” together to form a 360 video that can be viewed from any angle… Look around, look up, look down. That’s it’s main selling point and works well for certain VR content. Does it work well for property? It’s not great, there is no 3D effect, so you do not get any sense of depth. There is no 6 degrees of freedom (6DoF) so you cannot bend down and look at an object, you cannot walk around in VR etc.

Quality of the image can also be poor, as even 4K 360 videos will only give an SD resolution for each field of view (FOV) within virtual reality.

It can be a relatively cheap solution, but leaves customers underwhelmed. One good aspect is that the format is supported by big players like YouTube, Facebook etc, so for non VR usage, it can be quite popular and worthwhile.

Pros

• Works well in the 2D world (web, mobile)

• Can be cheap to produce

Cons

• Generally low quality look and feel of virtual reality showrooms

• No 3D VR effect

• No 6DoF

3D 360 Video/Photography

This technique is similar to the above, but the camera has stereoscopic lenses for each of the video streams captured and stitched together, creating a 3D look to the virtual reality footage. The 3D look can be impressive and certainly adds alot to the 360 technique, but the cameras used are generally very expensive and most of the immersion problems with 360 VR video still exist. You cannot move around in VR, so exploring a property feels less natural and more like viewing a promotional video.

Pros

• Stereoscopic 3D effect brings depth to the 360 content

Cons

• No 6DoF

• Expensive to create

3D Modelling

3D Modelling takes the architect, interior designer or property developer’s 3D models and uses software like VRNET’s studio app to create a VR showroom/demo/visualization. This allows the user to freely move around the property in VR and truly experience the space. The technology is becoming more and more advanced, allowing the user to change the lighting, change how the interior looks and much more. This technology is especially ideal for the construction and pre-construction stage, where it is hard for potential customers to visualise the property.

Pros

• 3D, with realistic modelling

• Allows the user to move around the VR showroom

• Able to change lighting, furniture etc

• Can be used for pre-existing property

• Very cheap solution when using already created 3D models

• Works well in the 2D world (web, mobile)

Cons

• Computer generated, not 100% realistic

Photogrammetry

Photogrammetry is a method of taking multiple photographic images in a real world property, from many angles, and using computer algorithms to map the imagery into a 3D virtual reality showroom. When done correctly, this combines most of the plus points of the above techniques… A photorealistic 3D model that can be walked around in virtual reality.

The method is not without fault, however. It is a complex task and when the computer doesn’t have enough images to determine the 3D, it will use guesswork to fill in the gaps. This can look quite good or very bad!

Pros

• Photo realistic

• Allows the user to move around the virtual reality showroom

• Works well in the 2D world (web, mobile)

Cons

• Can create artefacts when trying to fill in any gaps to create the 3D model

• Lighting is set to the lighting of the initial imagery

• Currently expensive and complex

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