Virtual reality showcasing a new kind of open house

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -- They say first impressions are everything. And that goes for buying a home, too. Pictures can give you a good idea of what you may be buying, but they don’t take you inside the space. Virtual reality can.

“The first impression used to be when you walked up or pulled up in front and you saw the landscaping and stuff and now the first impression is online,” said Realty Works Vice President Matt Kirkland.

Because of that Kirkland knows the first impression has to “look fantastic” otherwise someone will swipe past it on their phone. That’s why he’s now working with Point Cloud VR to showcase some of his homes in Lincoln.

The media company uses a combination of virtual reality and drone technology, along with still photos to create a home tour most people haven’t ever seen before.

“With this you're able to move through the house, see where rooms are located, see how close the kitchen is to the bathroom, things that you can't always tell when you're looking at a series of photos,” said Co-Founder Bryan Marine.

The process of creating a 3-D layout starts with a camera that has six lenses capturing 30,000 points a second. Each lens is pointing in different directions.

“Then it has infrared laser that goes out and actually measure the distance and that's how it puts together how large the room is, where the walls are,” said Marine. “As it's spinning it's taking photos with those six cameras and the lasers are measuring the space.”

The whole digital mapping process takes about 2-3 hours. Marine said it’s about 45 minutes per 1,000 square feet. Then after uploading all the data to a server, in about two days, Point Cloud VR has a final product. With the touch of your finger, you’re then able to take a virtual tour.

“You talk about a buyer, this works perfect for those out of state buyers. People that are relocating. It gives you a really good idea of what that home is going to look like,” said Point Cloud VR Co-Founder Ryan Swihart.

That’s exactly what happened for Kirkland the first time he used Point Cloud VR.

“I got called by a client looking at the house from Washington, D.C. and asked if I had a layout of the house and I said, ‘As a matter of fact I do,’ and I can email them a link.”

Swihart said the technology also allows Point Cloud VR to also show people a floor plan.

“We can give numbers for exactly how big that space is actually going to be, it's going to let you know exactly what kind of furniture you can get in there.”

Or if you potentially want to remodel, the dollhouse mode can take out walls.

Marine envisions a time when virtual reality home tours will be standard when selling or buying a house. But it doesn’t stop with real estate, he believes it will “take over everything.”

Anything from selling furniture, “to large properties that are trying to rent facilities, like maybe a camp, or a vineyard, even college campuses, anything you're trying to show off.”

Swihart agrees. Both believe the e-commerce possibilities within virtual reality open up a whole new world.

“Not just home sales, not just buyers and sellers, we're talking about any business that does any kind of online sales, can utilize this system, to really showcase what they have to really show off what spaces they have, or different pieces they have or different pieces or materials they're trying to sell,” said Swihart.

“You stage your furniture and you're walking through the house and everything you can click on and buy it and feel like what it feels like to be in a house with this set up, with this arrangement, with this furniture,” said Marine.

As for Kirkland’s homes he had virtual tours for, both sold in two days.

Point Cloud VR is one of a couple media companies doing virtual reality home tours in Lincoln.

For more information click on the links below.