Ollie Kilvert of The 360° View in Cambridgeshire explains how Virtual Reality could change how we buy and sell property
A business in St Neots is offering prospective buyers an incredible new way of viewing property through a 360-degree virtual tour.
Ollie Kilvert, a photographer and technology enthusiast who founded The 360° View, has created stunning virtual tours of homes and offices, providing an ideal way for the curious to familiarise themselves with a specific location from anywhere in the world.
Unlike a traditional video or photography, a virtual 360° view combines the best of panoramic photography and 3D virtual reality (VR) tours to create a unique online replica of a particular space. Visitors are in complete control and can choose where they want to go and what they want to see.
“One of the really fun parts of Christmas was showing my family how a VR headset actually worked,” said Ollie, who has previously been featured in the Cambridge Independent.
“From my little sister to my mother-in-law, everyone was given the opportunity to experience this phenomenon.”
He continued: “I own a Samsung Gear VR, a headset which is incredibly easy, impressive and affordable to use. All you do is slot in a Samsung phone which then processes and displays all the VR magic.”
Despite the seasonal shenanigans, family members found time to make the most of the equipment. “As it was Christmas, a lot was going on,” explained Ollie, “but amid all the distractions, putting on the headset seemed to be a remarkably immersive experience.
“Most people’s first reaction was ‘Oh my God, it’s so cool!’ Suddenly they were inside a contemporary luxury apartment with fantastic views of the city.
“They could then move around before deciding it was time to stop in the kitchen.
“Next, a menu appeared which offered them a chance to look at another property. What about a stunning 18th-century home? This one was conveniently already decked out for Christmas.
“No matter how old they were, as soon as they took off the goggles, everyone’s reaction was just pure astonishment,” observed Ollie. “My cousin even asked ‘Do they know I’m here?’”
It’s easy to forget that this bit of kit – one that clearly offers fun for the whole family – is primarily used by Ollie for professional purposes.
“As you can see, there is plenty of excitement towards virtual reality,” he noted, “but how will this technology help sell a home?
“Well, no matter how amazing the experience is, it will always need to take someone to put it on their heads in the first place.
“Estate agents and property developers are in the perfect position to do this. I believe they need to embrace this technology and offer an in-store experience which will help house buyers to filter their choices.
“Take, for example, the travel market, an industry which also faces stiff competition from the internet. Thomas Cook has started immersive 360-degree tours of hotels and resorts via an Oculus Rift headset. Similarly, Virgin Holidays has started to give customers a Google Cardboard set which lets them try before they buy.
“Virtual reality is gaining momentum and, without doubt, 2017 will see more of a move to this immersive technology.”