VR Startup woobaVR makes physical showrooms defunct

They use virtual reality to for a complete visualisation of properties.

This Singaporean VR start up helped a Malaysian property development firm to sell 92% of its units through a virtual reality showroom. Berhad Dato’ Ghazi, CEO of Malaysian property development firm Thriven, challenged the team behind woobaVR: they had to help Thriven sell 10-15% of its new development at 1% of the physical gallery cost.

woobaVR did far more than that, eventually devising a virtual reality showroom solution that would enable Thriven to sell 92% of units without having to build an expensive physical show
unit. Fariz Rashid, CEO at woobaVR, explained that for the longest time, people have relied on showrooms, pre-rendered images, and physical models to assess whether they would purchase property or not. “We look at an artist’s impression or visit a showroom and then try to imagine ourselves living there,” said Rashid of the traditional experience without virtual reality.

“Now technology helps to fill this gap, especially for those with a lack of visual imagination. Virtual reality and augmented reality helps buyers and sellers have a new way to pre-experience a space they may want to own or sell,” said Rashid.

He argued that virtual reality renders represent the home more accurately than a still image, and the technology provides home-buyers with added customisation and convenience.

“Outside of a showroom as well we have the additional functionality of adjusting the themes and overall interior design environment of the property. Certain showroom designs may appeal to certain buyers and that can be deceptive in nature,” he said. “The mobile functionality as well allows them to view the unit at their own convenience as well as share it with other members of the family,” he added.

A new standard for visualisation
Rashid also noted details on two of its products in the pipeline. The first is an automated virtual reality rendering platform for architects and interior designers,
which will be a SaaS model. It is currently in alpha testing stage and the startup is targeting a launch in the first quarter next year.

The second is a model for companies to showcase their home furnishings, with a live demo already available for limited viewing. The startup manages to keep prices at a fraction of an interior design or architectural firm’s rendering budget through the use of proprietary automated systems.

Rashid was determined to dispel the notion that virtual reality is an expensive technology that only big firms can afford. “You won’t need a high-end PC or expensive head mounted displays like the Oculus Rift to run our content,” said Rashid.

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Step into the future of real estate on your mobile with woobaVR

By Chong Jinn Xiung | Sep 14, 2017

  • Aims to change the property game with virtual show units accessed on mobile devices

  • Has plans to expand to Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia

THE property sector is like any brick-and-mortar business. In their case, players literally have their proverbial hands in brick and mortar as many players have kept to the same methods of doing business for a long time.

Usually, a property developer needs to spend a lot of resources on marketing and promoting new properties, building small yet expensive plastic scale models and full-size show units to communicate what is available to potential buyers.

The combination of both property and technology has largely been untapped but that may soon change thanks to new startups like woobaVR, a play on the Malay word ‘ubah’ merged with virtual reality (VR).

Founded in 2016, the Singaporean proptech (property tech) startup was started by cousins Carleel Zulkifli (pic, right) and Mohd Fariz Rashid.

Carleel, who was a game developer at the time, showed some VR prototypes that he was experimenting on with cousin Fariz, who was a wealth planner, and they got the idea to use the solution to showcase apartments.

From there the two cousins decided to test the market in home renovations and the response was favourable. After building up some capital they decided to refine the technology and founded the company with the objective of changing the property sector.

“VR presents a paradigm shift in visualisation,” said Carleel who acts as woobaVR’s chief technology officer. “As opposed to static or still images of a property or project, users are now able to directly immerse themselves in a more realistic view of the property.”

He explains that woobaVR’s main selling point outside of the VR element, that they originally developed, was its mobile functionality.

By using a proprietary compression model that enables them to deliver high fidelity VR on a mobile device, they managed to solve the problem of large file sizes.

According to Carleel, they are able to take 3D drawings from SketchUp, 3D Max as well as Revit and compress them to an average file size of between 20 - 80MB for a typical project, making them ideal for viewing and sharing on any mobile device.

With backend infrastructure to host the files and the ability to send data over the air to a mobile app that is easily installed on smartphones or tablets, property developers can easily showcase their latest development in a more realistic and interactive way as opposed to the conventional scaled model.

He goes on to say that the potential upside for buyers is that they are able to view a property that is more accurately represented at their own convenience as well as share that viewing experience with other family members.

As for property developers, Carleel believes that woobaVR’s biggest draw is the reach and cost-effectiveness of the solution as they are able to build the project at a mere fraction of the cost of building a show unit. This includes building virtual show units for yet-to-be built properties.

Not only that, it is cheaper and more sustainable than printing flyers and brochures. It typically takes between three to five days to develop and deploy a project, maximising the reach, time and cost-effectiveness of their pre-sales efforts.

At present woobaVR said it has developed and delivered up to 15 projects for both property developers and home fixture vendors. Their clients include Bon Estate, Thriven Group, Naza TTDI, Lian Seng Hin, DBS and more.

woobVR said it had successfully raised seed funding last year and are looking to enter their pre-series A round towards the end of this year.

When asked about their expansion plans, Carleel responded that following their next round of funding they are looking at expanding into Malaysia for talent as well as clients.

“Most of our projects actually come from Malaysia and we find the property developers here to be much more open minded,” he said.

Apart from Malaysia, woobaVR is also looking to make inroads to other markets in Southeast Asia including Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia.

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woobaVRCarleel ZulkifliwoobaVR
From VR To Crowdfunding - 3 S'pore Startups Disrupting The Property Market With Tech

Proptech, or the combination of property and technology, is the hot new word of the day after the Business Times reported on its disruptive potential. Proptech is not something new in Singapore, and the first major milestone would be the launch of PropertyGuru in December 2007.

PropertyGuru remains as the leading search engine for property sales and leasing today. Along the way, we have seen other players such as SRX, iProperty and Nestia who emerged.

As an entrepreneur, disruption always opens up new opportunities for those with the expertise and first-mover advantage.

For one, there is no lack of funding if you choose this space – given that it had grown from $451 million in 2013 to $2.7 billion in 2016. Singapore’s leading landlord, Capitaland had also set aside $100 million to invest into Proptech companies last year, in a fund known as C31 Ventures.

You can be the next Steve Melhuish if you decide to play the game.

For your reference, here are some disruptive proptech companies that you might not have not heard of.

Wooba VR – Virtual Reality House Tours

If you are looking for a futuristic application of Proptech, Wooba VR would be the leading player.

Unlike the 3D walkthrough that is taken by your property agent these days, Wooba VR allows you to look at your architectural and construction plans with an immersive VR googles.

 

Image Credit: Wooba VR

WoobaVR uses 2D and 3D images, and stitches them together with their proprietary software.

 

Image Credit: Houzz

For now, Wooba operates only in Singapore and provides visualisation videos on for your Android and iOS devices.

Wooba is currently being used for interior design, but its capabilities can eventually be extended to the construction of buildings too.

Given the emphasis on productivity locally, Singaporeans can appreciate the convenience of VR while building their homes or even entire estates. An architect staying in Ang Mo Kio can see the same plans that one at Jurong East can, by wearing the VR Googles.

For the client, what used to take weeks can be done in one afternoon.

They can have a spatial understanding of details like how the sunlight flows in, and how the layout of furniture feels like in the house. At the estate level, the planners can see how the traffic will flow, how rain will cause floods, and even model human traffic flows.

All these can only happen because of the 3D nature of VR, and this could severely disrupt the interior design and architecture industry.

InvestaCrowd – Crowdfunding Property Investment

Coming right on the heels of the magic of virtual reality, let us look into something more practical for most people – money!

As an entrepreneur, if you design a product that can provide a realistic promise of return, you will gain some traction.

Crowdfunding for the property space is about adding fintech to property. Crowdfunding for loans, products, equity and even donations have been the norm these days.

As with all crowdfunding platforms, they solve the problem of expertise and provide diversification through variety. In any property development, you will need to know your developer, location, term of contract, local market conditions and so on.

According to InvestaCrowd founder, Julian Kwan, there are essentially two types of property markets in Asia.

We have the markets with clear rules (e.g. Singapore, Japan) but the high prices mean little returns and there are messy markets (e.g. China, India) that allow for high returns but also hard to execute.

Therefore, many choose to invest in Western markets such as Australia, United States and United Kingdom.

 

Image Credit: InvestaCrowd

 

Image Credit: InvestaCrowd

InvestaCrowd solves all these problems for investors who want to invest abroad in leading cities such as Melbourne, New York, Sydney and so on.

It does the sourcing, structuring, developing, and selling of properties. Investors come in to fund the projects and get their money back over time.

This is a form of business financing which has evolved with the emergence of proptech.

StudioMatch – Discovering and Booking Studio Spaces

Online marketplaces and proptech are not mentioned frequently in the same breath but it should not be neglected.

Singapore is a high density city which requires special facilities to accommodate certain activities. For instance, you can’t sing your lungs out in your HDB flat without irritating your neighbours and bringing the police to your door.

Musicians would have to go to a jamming studio which is sound-proof and equipped with the right instruments.

This market is highly fragmented and studios tend to move when their landlords were to increase their price after the lease is up. For musicians, it can be a pain because the new location might not be easily accessible, and they are unsure about the reliability of a studio nearby.

 

Image Credit: StudioMatch

StudioMatch aggregates the music, dance, art and yoga studios in Singapore to make it easy for these users to discover the right studios in a short period of time.

The studios manage their own live calendars, which allow their clients to book the available time slots immediately. For these artists, StudioMatch provides much needed convenience and assurance with their rating and review system.

In other words, StudioMatch provides a trusted discovery platform for studio users and sub-leasing service for studio owners. This is a win-win solution for both parties and it opens up a whole new market for the creative industry.

A Brave New World

Property is the largest asset class in the world, and it has seen multiple disruptions in different forms.

Established brick-and-mortar companies such as Sears and Macy’s have shut down hundreds of stores in the United States as they face stiff competition from online stores. People can buy everything from shoes to computers online.

PropertyGuru had emerged to disrupt traditional newspaper listings, but even then, there is still the Classifieds section in The Straits Times after 10 years.

The jobs of lawyers and property agents would probably have to evolve in the next 10 years, but if the PropertyGuru experience is any guide, such disruptive technology will be complementary rather than truly threatening.

These changes can be frightening especially for those PMETs in their 40s who have been in the industry for the past 20 years.

So to these individuals, I have a suggestion. Instead of waiting to be disrupted, why not stand up to brave the storm and be the one disrupting the industry?

After all, we are in the year 2017.

This article was written by Kai Kiat Ong.

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Using VR With Real Estate And Interior Design (Feat. WoobaVR)

We have WoobaVR featuring as a guest contributor to give us some opinion about how VR is going fast and furious into real estate and interior design industy.

 

Real Estate And Interior Design VR

For real-estate related VR applications, they are made by either 360 pictures and videos or computer generated 3D models. There are mainly 2 use cases:

  1. To view an existing home

  2. To showcase interior and exterior design concepts of yet-to-be-built homes

Why Use VR ?

By 2025, the VR HMD market is set to reach over $110 billion annually (based on a Goldman Sachs Report). With a fast growing infrastructure by major players (Facebook, Google, Samsung, just to name a few), devices that are VR-ready are becoming more powerful better and more affordable for the everyday consumer. Like all VR applications and games, the number 1 reason given about why VR is used is because of its ability to transport the viewer into the space, making them feel as if they’re really there. For real estate and interior design, the immersive experience makes VR a natural fit for usage in the real estate and interior design industry.

For The Property Developers/Agents/Sellers

With personalized viewings at any time and any place in the world (with an internet connection), this benefits the property seller through:

  • Virtual rooms can be tailored for the exclusive clientele, making each viewing experience different and memorable.

  • This increases buyers’ confidence to purchase property off-the-plan as they get unparalleled spatial awareness of the home they’re viewing.

  • This experience is highly scalable which increases market reach and marketing ROI for the developer.

Exposure For Vendors

ID firms can work with VR studios like WoobaVR to showcase their work for both built and unbuilt spaces. Ideas that were too costly or too challenging to build in a showroom can now be viewed by millions around the world. Virtual tours can add onto the experience as a visualization aid during their pitch process, and ultimately give their client total control over how their project will turn out.

Furniture retailers can use VR to promote inventory that they were unable to purchase, either because they lacked storage space or budget. With VR, they can decorate homes with themes and signature looks, even without any furniture.

 

 

At a touch of a button, these vendors that supply furnishings can show homeowners what their whole living room floor will look like with black marble tiles, or white marble tiles. This saves massive amounts of time and money spent dealing with options and last minute changes in orders. VR enables the building process to be fine tuned and more time and cost efficient, before any major commitment is made by both parties. 

For The Buyers

Working with the vendors with VR capabilities, buyers will get the first cut of how their homes will look like, even before it’s built. They get to see their choices being presented as they would appear in their own future homes. Homeowners are now able to see their ideas come to life instantly, in real time. Viewers will be able to see what time the sun comes into the bedroom. This saves time making trips down to a physical showroom, which (most of the time) are different from their own property.

With IKEA VR, motion controllers allow the user to interact with the virtual environment. Shoppers can open drawers and toggle between storage options around the house.

 

 


Although in its infancy, there are also VR editors where clients can have an immediate response to change their designs like colour and textures or placement to communicate their ideas with the vendors. And most importantly, with VR, the visuals can be passed on from the designers to the carpenters and furnishing providers, making it easier to refer to when renovating the property.

Conclusion

So if you are in the property or interior design or furniture business, why not come explore Virtual Reality as an opportunity to provide a unique and valuable experience for your customers.

Try out WoobaVR app on the Google Play store or iPhone App Store to experience a demo walkthrough on Asia’s first fully interactive VR platform for Real Estate. Contact them to create your very own VR property experience!

This article is co-written with Terrence Tan from WoobaVR.

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