You may have heard of the rapidly-growing virtual reality industry. Giant companies like Facebook, HTC and Sony have all invested billions into devices and software to bring this technology to the mainstream. It’s fast becoming a matter of course for young gamers and curious shoppers.
“360 media” are videos and photos that are shot with a 360 degree cameras. The key difference between 360 media and virtual reality (VR) media is that 360 media is shot with cameras, whereas VR is digitally generated. 360 also means the video is shot from one viewpoint, whereas you can explore the environment in VR. Augmented reality (AR) superimposes generated graphics on videos (think Pokemon Go). These terms can generally be used interchangeably since you can look at all of them using a VR headset.
You can now buy 360 cameras of reasonable quality but the cutting edge of quality is our purpose built array of six cameras that deliver phenomenal resolution (71 megapixels for photo and up to 8K quality for video). Only the best computers can actually run the resolution that we produce right now!
The biggest difficulty with moving 360 video is getting the photographer out of the shot. Some companies solve this problem by wearing a camera on their heads. There’s a few problems with this - the user is looking from too high up and the footage is often shaky.
What’s interesting about our remote controlled VR camera rover, the “Scorpion”, is that allows the camera operator to be out of the frame. Our R&D engineers have custom-built hardware to make sure the video is smooth and at the right height. Our media blurs the lines between 360 and VR because we can move throughout a room, and the video can be paused at any time to “explore the environment” (one of the requirements for VR).
Why do aerials and virtual tours matter to me?
As the various apartment booms across Australia reach their peak, competition amongst realtors is increasing. You need something to distinguish yourself from the crowd with digital media that reaches further than your local area.
You may have heard people coining and throwing around the term “Digital Age of [whatever]”. And it’s true, with the invention of the internet and the information being so freely available, if you’re not on the web, you’re falling behind. Think about it, when was the last time you went past page 2 of Google?
Would you click on an image that looked dull and boring? Or would you click on an image that is bright and full of colour? A series of studies done by Nalini Ambady and Robert Rosenthal have shown that people make judgements in as little as 2 seconds, in a process called thin slicing. They showed students a 30s clip of a professor at the beginning of the semester and asked for their opinion of the professor at the end of the semester, and found that their opinions did not change significantly even when the clip length was decreased to 10, 5, or 2 seconds.
Selling off the plan property is difficult. Agents have to build desire in buyers for a property which hasn’t been built yet. Property is a significant investment for people and a huge leap of faith for most, so buyer trust is paramount.
Selling to interstate or international buyers poses a similar problem, access for inspection is costly often involving flights and is difficult to organise, meaning that the buyers are reliant on trusting the agent and photos/video associated with the property. The net effect is that sales are more limited to the local market. This reduces the price potential of a property and increases the sell time.
360 media allows you two advantages in the selling game: 360 photos alleviate the need for wide-angle lenses and allow buyers to view your property virtually from any device. Google Street View gives you a good example of what 360 photos offer. The prospective property buyer can use VR headsets, their phones or just click and drag on a computer to look around the room in any direction. They can feel immersed in the environment you want them to experience.
360 video adds a whole new dimension and level of immersion to your virtual house tours. Users get ambient theme music, voice overs and text popups. They can look around while this is running and even pause the video to get a better look. Going from photo walkthroughs to 360 video walkthroughs is like going from radio to television.
Our Skyborne 360 VR walkthrough was utilised on a top-tier riverfront property in East Brisbane. The catch was that the property was exclusively listed on the Chinese market.
How do you get the interest and trust of buyers thousands of kilometres away?
We used one of these innovative tours to showcase the property using an immersive soundtrack and pop up text as descriptors for each floor.
Furthermore the tour differentiated the property from any other on the market, as no one else is currently utilising this technology.
The result was that the listing had more than 30,000 views within a week. Much higher than expectations set by the agent or the home owner! This was a direct result of the innovative Skyborne 360 video tour.