VR in Home Design

Virtual Reality (VR) has become one of the leading trends in recent years. There is no doubt this technology will dominate in 2020 and the years that follow. Real estate agents, designers and people who plan to remodel their houses, apartments or offices can all find an ideal solution in VR. What options do we have for utilizing VR in home design and how does it work? This and other questions will be covered in our article.

In contrast to AR (augmented reality), in which we can observe a house or apartment model added to a real-world environment through the device screen (iPhone, iPad, Android devices) or AR glasses, VR allows you to do a deep dive into the virtual model world.

How can you get such a model? You can get a virtual model of a real house or apartment with the help of special 360 degree cameras like GoPro Fusion, Samsung Gear 360, Nikon KeyMission 360, Kodak PIXPRO SP360 4K, Ricoh Theta V or the honoree of CES 2020 — Insta360 Titan. Their prices range from $150 to $500, but if you are ready to invest heavily, there are many more expensive solutions on the market. In most of the cases, though, a standard phone camera that supports shooting 360° images may do the job. Why pay more?

GoPro Fusion 360

GoPro Fusion 360
Image Source: https://gopro.com/en/us/fusion

This variant is ideal for realtors and people who want to sell or lease their property. Having prepared the sequence of 360° images, a house or an apartment can be viewed by a potential customer without the need for a personal visit to the property. There are many websites that can be used for showcasing the VR model, including VeeR, Kuula and Facebook 360, among others.

The main disadvantage of this, however, is that you are unable to remodel the house in VR view, unless you actually move the furniture or paint the walls, then repeat the scanning process. You will be working with a photo as opposed to an editable model.

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Is it possible to create an editable virtual model? Sure, interior design apps like Live Home 3D can help you with this task, but we will revisit this later in this article, once we review the special headsets you may need for viewing virtual models.

What Devices Can Be Used for Watching Virtual Model of the House?

Of course, the model can be seen on the screen of practically any device, but it is more fun to use a special device to immerse yourself fully into the world of VR, and there are plenty of headsets that can help you do that. We’ll start with the big players and finish with the less expensive options.

Oculus Rift S

Oculus Rift S headset by Palmer Luckey and Facebook
Image Source: https://www.oculus.com/rift-s/

This is the headset that started the current hysteria. At first developed by Palmer Luckey, it was later bought by Facebook, which invested in it massively. Now, Facebook recognizes VR’s future potential and is developing the device further. There are three versions (Oculus Go, Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S). Prices range from $149 for the Go model, which is wireless and requires an Oculus mobile app, all the way up to the Oculus Quest, which may cost $499 for 128 GB model.

The top model works successfully at a resolution of 2560x1440 (1280x1440 per eye) with a 110-degree field of view (FOV). And, what is more, it tracks the movement of your head and allows you to get closer to the objects of your interest! You may consider purchasing Oculus Touch sensors for an improved 3D experience, but, with the latest updates (starting with the build 16, released on April 2020) the producer added the possibility for the hand tracking functionality. That’s pretty exciting! More about Oculus.

HTC Vive Cosmos

HTC Vive Cosmos, Virtual Reality headset by HTC
Image Source: https://www.vive.com/us/product/cosmos/

Crowned as the best VR headset in the past, HTC is striving to get its position back with their newest device: VIVE Cosmos. It offers the ultimate experience but comes with a hefty price tag of $699 plus approximately $130.00 for the controllers. The device has the same field of view as Oculus (110 degrees), but it is equipped with the incredible RGB LCD screens, each offering a per-eye resolution of 1440x1700 (2880x1700 combined resolution). VIVE Cosmos supports Vive Wireless Adapter, so it is probably the most powerful solution, if you want to go wireless. Its main purpose is playing games, but this headset can be easily used to explore the models uploaded to such services as SketchFab™ or Gravity Sketch.

Microsoft HoloLens 2

Microsoft Hololens 2 VR headset
Image Source: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/hololens

This is an ideal solution if you plan to combine virtual and augmented reality into something called Mixed Reality (MR). It works without any cables as it has a Windows 10 system built into it. It runs on batteries, has great tech specs and includes all the latest innovations from Microsoft, including artificial intelligence (AI). However, the price is not cheap ─ $3,500 for the device only, which could prove to be a great obstacle if you are on a budget. More about Microsoft HoloLens 2.

There is also PlayStation® VR, which was released in October 2016. It was designed to be fully functional with the PlayStation 4 home video game console. With a price of $349, it became one of the best-selling VR headsets ─ more than 5 million (as of March, 2020). With the release of PlayStation 5 and possible appearance of PSVR 2, it may become the bestseller of the year.

Are There Less Expensive Alternatives?

Yes, there are. Phone-based VR headsets could be a nice budget solution if you do not need expensive devices. As the name implies, these headsets work mostly as a holder for your smartphone. All you need to do is record 360º videos or panorama images of your house and upload them to your phone ━ quite simple.

Google Cardboard

Google Cardboard by Google
Image Source: https://www.oculus.com

This is the easiest and least expensive way to try virtual reality as it is just a piece of folded cardboard with some cheap embedded plastic lenses. Priced from $10.00 to $30.00, this is the king of all budget headsets.

Samsung Gear VR

Samsung Gear VR by Samsung for Virtual Reality
Image Source: https://www3.oculus.com/en-us/gear-vr/

This is the best solution for your budget when it comes to price and functionality. For only $129.99, you get additional sensors and comfort, compared to Google Cardboard. Requires the recent Samsung smartphone models.

Google Daydream View

Google Daydream View by Google for VR
Image Source: https://vr.google.com/daydream/

Priced at $79.00, it is the response to Samsung by Google. Requires Google Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 3 or Pixel 3a phone. In October, 2019 Google announced that it shuts down the project. These devices can still be purchased on the Web.

There are many other headsets on the market, but we discussed only the most popular ones.

How Can I Create an Editable VR Model?

Apps like Live Home 3D allow you to create virtual models on Mac, Windows 10, iPhone and iPad devices. These models allow unlimited modifications and can be exported to 360° images and videos. The app’s rich toolset allows you to create a virtual model of a house, apartment or office regardless of the complexity.

A model created in such a way also has a distinct advantage: it can be saved in one of the supported formats (say, FBX or OBJ) and uploaded to such services as Trimble 3D Warehouse™ or Sketchfab™. The latter is especially interesting if you want to see a 3D model of the house in Virtual Reality using a VR headset (such as the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest, or Oculus Go) or a WebVR browser.

Live Home 3D allows using VR in Home Design
Revised: May 2020

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