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Imagine using a gaming style technology to find out how your property might look when it's built. Created by Dubai based creative marketing agency, Action Impact's lead developer Avinash Lobo, Virtual Gekko is based on conventional gaming software used for entertainment and strategy games, enabling customers to take virtual real-time tours of properties they are considering buying.
Like in a simplified game, a customer can walk through the property and inspect all rooms and get a feeling for space and design. He can also check out how the interior styles, furniture, a kitchen or decoration might look in real or whether everything fits aesthetically and functionally together or not and try out a number of alternative options.
This is, naturally, an ideal tool for off-plan properties, and for remote clients, who might not have the time to come to the UAE to get a first ''real'' impression of a property they might want to buy. For example, a client in a London showroom of a Dubai developer could that way easily take a virtual walk through a luxury villa he is interested in buying without having to fly to Dubai to oversee interior and exterior arrangements.
''It is designed for sales centers and showrooms. Customers can check out how different configurations might look in a property. It brings their imagination to life,'' Lobo says.
While the idea of virtual sales tools for a variety of assets and goods is no longer new, virtual trips through real estate using gaming technology as an outright sales tool is certainly a first in the UAE.
Action Impact's Executive Creative Director Simon Tapping says that he expects that Virtual Gekko will ''speed up the sales process and ensure that customers are enthused and always get what they want. We can see it being used to sell villas, cars and other big ticket items.''
Property Weekly took the opportunity to talk to Adrian Bell, co-founder and Executive Director of Action Impact, on the prospects of his new virtual sales tool.
- Virtual property sales tools, such as walkthroughs, 360-degree captures, remote viewings and virtual reality marketing just recently entered the real estate stage. How does your new product stand out?
Virtual Gekko was built around our in-house requirements to deliver better visuals faster.
Our investment in the right hardware allows us to work with massive 3D data sets, while still maintaining fluid, real-time interactivity.
Adopting – and adapting – the latest gaming technology is at the forefront of this experience. By using it on a wide variety of projects, we built on that knowhow and managed to adapt a very robust foundation for relevant professional applications that also allows for quick turnarounds.
- Who is the clientele you are addressing?
The perception might be that this is a tool and application aimed at millennials. That's not the case and far from it.
This tool will allow a whole new approach towards how consumers engage with environments. While a millennial might have better hand-eye coordination than the average generation X, it is targeted at a broad demographic array and is designed to be very intuitive to use.
- The developer of Virtual Gekko says the tool is designed for sales centers and showrooms. This means, the client still needs to move physically to a showroom. But millennials and other target groups for virtual sales tools seemto prefer to browse online. How do you tackle this challenge?
The online and offline blend is definitely shifting, but, I believe, most clients these days still see the tremendous value of the face-to-face experience, so removing that important connection in its totality is still some way off.
- There have been instances of people buying off-plan property outright from a virtual tour. Could your software provide such an option?
Yes, it's definitely a possibility for the future.
- Which industries, apart from real estate, could your product be of use?
There are many possible applications, but the automotive sector is certainly an obvious one. For example, Virtual Gekko could be used to visualize the multiple configuration options of a client's choice of car. He could walk around his chosen vehicle, instantly compare the leather interior with the look of a red metallic paint finish and see everything in context from a very human point of view, in his own time.
- The virtual walkthrough could be combined with interactive ads or mobile applications using QR codes to provide extra sales push. Any plans of doing this?
Not at the moment.
- How about using augmented reality, headsets á la Oculus Rift?
Certainly, virtual reality is hot-to-trot. We are already experimenting with this technology but it is, as you know, very immature at this stage, so we say: one step at a time.
- Which property agencies and developers are you targeting with this product?
We are speaking with a select few local master developers at the moment.
Everyone gets very excited when they actually see the technology, so we are careful with our roll-out as the product is still so new.
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Source: Arno Maierbrugger, Special to Property Weekly