Cars can drive themselves; shoes can tie themselves, and people can now take vacations on the moon. OK, maybe the last one is a few years away still, but technologies are quickly changing the way we interact with the world, and even the real estate industry is evolving with it. Staying on top of the latest tech trends is critical to starting and maintaining a successful career. That’s why now, more than ever, new agents need to keep up with emerging technologies if they want to be competitive in real estate.
Virtual reality (VR) produces a computer-generated environment–complete with realistic sights, sounds and other sensations–which a person can explore by wearing a special kind of headset and, in some cases, using certain props. Basically every VR experience will allow the user to feel as though they are in this simulated world and look around it, while more advanced systems allow for movement and interaction.
While the ability of VR to provide valuable, realistic experiences without introducing real-world risks has found many fans across various industries (from healthcare to real estate), the most popular types of virtual reality content remain video games, movies and television. Virtual reality technology seeks to create a realistic three-dimensional image or environment that a human can perceive as real, and even interact with in realistic ways. Obviously we aren’t at holodeck levels of realism yet, but consumers do have easy access to VR headsets and controllers.
VR in devices like headsets is created entirely by a mixture of hardware and software. That makes it different from AR (augmented reality), which uses an overlay of the real world and adds objects to it, like the Microsoft HoloLens. VR tends to be a more difficult prospect: In AR, there are solid fixed points of reference that your eyes can use to track and navigate. In VR, the full environment is simulated and realism is harder to attain.
The most ubiquitous VR product is undoubtedly the VR headset: We have seen many versions from top tech brands like Google and Sony, each with their own unique approach. These headsets are easy to divide into categories based on the hardware they are designed to work with. Larger, high-end headsets are typically designed to work with PCs that have been enabled to run VR software. Close behind them are headsets designed for other machines like game consoles, notably PlayStation VR. Lately we are also seeing the rise of stand-alone headsets that include all necessary hardware onboard.
Vr and Immersion
“Immersion” is a vital consideration in all virtual reality endeavors, as in, “How immersive does this experience feel? How easily can people suspend their doubts and really feel like they are in this reality?” That question drives all ambitious VR development. It also helps us divide VR into a few useful categories:
Non-immersive: Non-immersive VR allows elements of the real world to creep in…which can be a good thing if you tend to suffer from nausea. This includes headsets that include some of the real world at the corners, virtual windows that you see sometimes in offices, and some AR that tiptoes as close as it can to VR.
Semi-immersive: Semi-immersive VR simulations use a combination of and real-world objects to replicate an experience. The easiest and most common example of this is the cockpit simulation used for both games and flight training. It looks real, and the visuals are digital while the controls are physical — but you still have the sense of being in the real world.
Fully immersive: Fully immersive VR creates an almost entirely digital environment to explore (the exception being controls, such as a gun or sword-like object in your hands). These environments may be limited by space, as with today’s gaming console VR headsets, or they can include full 3D environments in the real world that you can explore, which are tracked, copied, and filled out inside the simulation.
Some Popular VR Devices
Then come along somewhat cheaper headsets that are designed to work with smartphones, with a slot in the headset to position the smartphone screen at the right distance from the eyes. These headsets are made to work with VR apps that offer simpler experiences
Google Cardboard is a virtual reality (VR) platform developed by Google for use with a head mount for a smartphone. Named for its fold-out cardboard viewer, the platform is intended as a low-cost system to encourage interest and development in VR applications. Cardboard will give curious individuals a chance to dabble in VR without spending a lot of money on a technology they don’t expect to use regularly. There are quite a few apps that provide visual experiences for Cardboard, and Android users can watch select YouTube videos in VR.
There are several videos online that can guide you through the assembly, and visual instructions are printed on the device itself. Once the headset is assembled, you can download and open the Cardboard app on your smartphone, scan the QR code on your headset, load up a VR experience, and slide your phone into the phone holder in front.
Google Daydream View
Daydream is a virtual reality (VR) platform developed by Google that is built into the Android mobile operating system. The Google Daydream View is only compatible with these devices: Pixel, Pixel 2, Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, Galaxy Note 8, LG V30, Moto Z, Moto Z2, ZenFone AR, Mate 9 Pro, Axon 7.
Compatible phones that follow the platform's software and hardware specifications are used in the Google Daydream View virtual reality head-mounted display mount.
Google’s Daydream View is a mobile VR device that comes with a handheld Bluetooth controller for navigation and gameplay. The Daydream platform includes a variety of games, visual experiences from companies like Discovery VR, and apps from news organizations and companies including Netflix, the NFL, and YouTube.
The first thing you’ll want to do after getting the Daydream View is get the Daydream app from Google Play and follow its instructions for setup. This includes making sure your device has the necessary updates, entering a form of payment in case you decide to make purchases later, and pairing your controller with the app.
Samsung Gear VR (With Controller)
The Samsung Gear VR is a virtual reality head-mounted display mount developed by Samsung Electronics, in collaboration with Oculus VR. The 2017 edition of Samsung’s Gear VR is only compatible with Samsung smartphones, specifically these devices: Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 Edge, Note 5, Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge, and Galaxy S6 Edge.Samsung’s Gear VR is a major player in mobile VR and, like Google’s Daydream View, it comes with a handheld controller. There are plenty of games, apps, and videos available for this device.
Mobile VR graphics are always imperfect, but the Gear VR has a reputation for making the most of them.
To set up your experience, you’ll need to install the Gear VR software on your phone by inserting your phone into the front of the headset and following the onscreen instructions. Afterwards, you’ll open the Oculus app on your phone to pair the handheld controller with your headset. Another app, Oculus Prologue, comes free with the Gear VR and will guide you through your first VR experience.