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Virtual reality is coming to a project near you

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Tech Talk by Peter Mate
Peter Mate is co-owner and president of Planit Canada, a software and services company devoted to servicing the manufacturing industry. For more info email peterm@planitcanada.ca

There’s a very special feeling when a client walks into the newly renovated kitchen for the first time.
No matter how many renderings, plans, samples or paint chips they’ve looked at, it’s never quite the same as when they see the real thing once the job is complete. Usually, this is a very special moment, but unfortunately, sometimes it can also be a letdown for the customer. I recently heard someone say they regretted their kitchen renovation because they put too many cabinets in too small of a space. Understandably, this is an easy mistake and a hard one to catch in a small rendering.
But times are changing...
Augmented reality takes the real world and allows us to introduce virtual aspects and provide an experience that mixes the real with the virtual. We’ve all seen sample show homes or condos. Theses are nice, but they can’t evoke the sensation of the finished product. Consumers are offered a tour of a ‘sample’ unit and then it’s a leap of faith.
Now imagine another scenario. You’re considering a penthouse condo on the 25th story of a waterfront development. A remote-controlled flying drone is equipped with a video camera and sent up the proper elevation on a beautiful sunny day, maybe even a few times. Once to catch the peak daylight, once for a view of the sunrise and then again for the beautiful sunset view the penthouse unit will offer. Video footage is captured and incorporated into a 1:1 scale 3D perspective of the condo. You can move around inside the condo from room to room. You can change textures, upgrade counter tops, change flooring, etc. You can get a real immersive feeling of what it will be like to wake up to a view form the 25th floor or get a sense of what it would be like sitting on the patio with a nice cigar watching the sun disappear in the distance.
These are the types of experiences that are making their way into our industry. These are the tools that will help designers convey their ideas to customers better than ever before. Taking into account the surrounding areas of a kitchen remodel will better allow designers to convey finished results. So instead of looking at a flat color rendering of a kitchen, we’d be immersed in a 3D model of the kitchen including the surrounding rooms. We’ll get a better sense of what it will feel like to be in that kitchen and look over to the dining room. We’ll know if the amount of cabinetry is too much for the space. We can incorporate lighting to mimic different periods of the day. Daytime vs. nighttime.
This technology is also revolutionizing the concept of samples and swatches.
It’s hard for a consumer to look at a paint swatch and truly visualize what that paint color will look like on a wall or an entire room. The same holds true for counter tops, cabinet colors, flooring, etc.
Imagine looking through your tablet or smart phone’s camera and seeing your room, but with your new floors installed. Augmented reality. Imagine looking through the camera view and seeing the new counter top on your existing cabinets. Your walls in different colours contrasted by your actual furniture, floors, etc. It’s the equivalent of a change room when buying clothes. How many times does something look good on the rack and then doesn’t fit quite right. We’d be returning lots of clothes if it weren’t for change rooms, but you can’t really return a house, a condo, a kitchen or a storefront.
Immersive experiences invoke emotion. Theme parks are immersive. They are not halls filled with pictures of things; they are life size, real, detailed and sometimes unbelievable.
Immersive experiences that invoke emotion reassure the consumer and facilitate the sales process. Fourteen years ago, woodworking software captured my attention and I was a believer. This year I’m re-living those emotions as I witness augmented reality entering into our showrooms.

Peter Mate is co-owner and president of Planit Canada, a software and services company devoted to servicing the manufacturing industry. For more info, email peterm@ planitcanada.ca or visit planitcanada.ca

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