Dave Marcinkowski is a founder/partner in Madeira Residential and Quext, focused on creating smarter, healthier apartment communities.
Virtual worlds and augmented reality have captivated gamers and sci-fi fans for years and have become part of our culture and everyday jargon. The 1999 blockbuster, The Matrix redefined the genre and generated a virtual reality bonanza in the cinema and game world. His influence on film, fashion, technology and culture has not diminished after 20 years.
It has inspired technology visionaries to invent innovative virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) applications that go well beyond gaming to improve the way we function in the real world. The growth of Web3 and the metaverse, with immersive technologies, is expected to change the way we work, shop, socialize, travel, seek healthcare, and even search for real estate.
The speed of digital transformation, forced by the pressures of the pandemic, has further revealed the characteristics and uses of VR and AR technologies, driving their adoption across numerous industries. Faced with a reduced workforce and imposed remote business and interpersonal connections, companies and individuals are turning to virtual tools to improve their work and lifestyle environments.
Multi-family operators can open the door to any unit from anywhere.
Some of the most exciting applications for using VR and AR technologies can be found in multi-family homes. Sophisticated virtual software and accessories are radically changing the shopping journey of an apartment and how we will experience life in an apartment once the lease is signed. While these technologies are still at an early stage of development and adoption, there is ongoing refinement and innovation, with massive growth and wider adoption expected in the coming years. Smart multi-family operators would be wise to get in the game now and take advantage of the future of the metaverse and its proposed impact on nearly every facet of life.
Let’s illustrate the huge potential of VR and AR solutions for the multifamily industry by introducing Emma. It merely provides a glimpse into the myriad ways in which virtual and augmented reality technologies are changing the way we select our living environment and connect with our community.
A day in the life
Emma’s job transfer to Seattle from Chicago means a move to a new apartment community. She has a good feeling about this next apartment tour. She settles down on her comfy couch, puts on the VR headset and greets her virtual avatar agent, Erik, who guides her through a detailed and informative tour of the unit, community amenities, and a scenic walk through the landscaped grounds.
Walking from room to room, the unit’s dimensions seem perfect for her furniture and will fit nicely. She could even buy the dining area on display. With a single click it could be hers and installed by her arrival. Emma is convinced of Erik’s proposed neighborhood bike ride. This is him. Erik takes her through the easy lease signing process and she is ready for her new life. She removes her headset and drinks her coffee as a windy Chicago morning unfolds.
It’s so easy. Multifamily businesses are revolutionizing apartment search and community living with virtual technology. From hosting immersive augmented reality open days to hosting virtual apartments, the potential savings in time and resources, as well as growth drivers for revenue and brand awareness are staggering.
According to global market research firm Technavio, the AR/VR market is expected to grow by: $162.7 billion by 2025. As technology advances, virtual solutions and accessories are becoming more mobile and lighter, with longer battery life and falling prices. As these solutions become more accessible and easy to use, multi-family landlords and operators, as well as their customer communities, will benefit from even more immersive experiences that increase revenue and improve apartment lifestyles.
How multi-family communities can use virtual technologies now and in the future
Virtual staging and interior design: This allows for endless color and furniture variations with custom lighting and music enhancements to engage customers without incurring operating costs.
The most important walkthrough: The walkthrough allows customers to experience unit functions and community amenities everywhere with accuracy and in a way that builds an emotional connection.
The virtual clubhouse: Community residents can “gather” for social events and connections through immersive experiences that will feel organic and real. And you can dress up your virtual “you” any way you want.
The fitness center moves to your unit: You can join a fitness class anytime, anywhere and experience a real workout, without leaving your apartment.
The Virtual and Expanded Neighborhood: Virtual tours help consumers learn more about what’s on offer nearby and whether they think the area is suitable. Augmented reality glasses allow users to walk past stores and restaurants, view merchandise and menus before entering, or check wait times.
AR technology will transform your environment: Put on AR glasses and suddenly you see the wonders of a morning in Paris or busy Times Square. With AR you can change the visual perception of your interior and exterior with endless variations. Attend concerts and sporting events, take classes and travel the world – all from the comfort of your living room!
The cost savings and benefits for multi-family owners are obvious and numerous.
• Make better use of existing staff (particularly when there is a shortage on the labor market).
• Save on transport and presentation costs.
• Virtualize real estate management and maintenance.
• Increase sales and occupancy with a better customer experience and service.
In the very near future, this intermingled world of physical and virtual will become a more widely accepted and comfortable reality. As uses and benefits increase and technology becomes more mainstream, life in a Matrix-esque metaverse world will shift from mere science fiction to more widespread adoption. How we manage, navigate and control that mix remains to be seen. We know it’s clearly not just for gamers and sci-fi fans. The future prospects for everyone are enormously exciting and equally exciting.