Kylie Davis (04:05)
So, look, I am here today on Wangal land, and home of the Bennelong’s mob, the Wangal people of the Eora nation in the inner west of Sydney. And in the spirit of reconciliation, the Proptech association of Australia acknowledges the traditional custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to elders, past and present and emerging, and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who are joining us today. I’d also like to thank the fabulous support of stone and chalk, who make our proptech panels possible. And for those of you who don’t know, Stone and Chalk was founded as a not for profit in Sydney in 2015 to help fintech startups commercialize and grow.
Kylie Davis (04:53)
And from the 40 startups in 2015, it now has hundreds of startups across Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide, covering all areas of emerging technology, including proptech. So let’s begin with our conversation around virtual reality. The first virtual reality headset was invented in 1968, and the technology got a huge bump in 2014 when Facebook bought Oculus for an eye watering price. So why has it taken so long for real estate and property to embrace it? And how is it being used successfully? In this panel, we’re going to be learning about VR, AR, Mr. XR, digital twins, and everything in between. And my panel of experts to help us understand this space is Josh Callahan from Little Hinges. Hello, Josh.
Josh Callaghan (05:45)
Hey, Kylie. Hey, everyone.
Kylie Davis (05:47)
Christian Schwredtfeger from IMMERSIV. Hey, Christian.
Christian Schwredtfeger (05:51)
Kylie Davis (05:52)
Lovely to have you here.
Kylie Davis (05:54)
And Michael Shaw from EnvisionVR. Hi, Michael.
Michael Shaw (05:58)
Yeah, hi, Kylie. And hi, everyone else on the panel. Good to be here.
Kylie Davis (06:01)
Yeah. So welcome gentlemen, I’m going to kick off with some general questions for you all, and I’m just going to pop them up ahead. So, apologies for start to look up, but who wants to answer the question of what is VR?
Christian Schwredtfeger (06:19)
I’ll give it a crack. So, in real estate specifically, we’re talking prop tech. VR can be in many forms. Like we have clients come to us really with the goal of just leveling up their marketing game and going beyond traditional when we’re talking off the plan, going beyond 3d renders and animation, and they’ve seen these emerging technologies, they’ve heard about VR and the metaverse and all these buzzwords, but basically they’ll come to us and say, look, we want to level up and we want to do some kind of VR. And that’s how the conversation usually starts for us.
Kylie Davis (06:56)
Okay, so what are the misconceptions around VR? Like, do I need a crazy headset to use it? How mainstream is it now? Because it sort of started off as a bit of a gimmick or a gamer thing or a toy.
Josh Callaghan (07:13)
I think that’s the biggest misconception, is that you do need some sort of personal tech or something that you don’t already have in your hands to be able to access it. And these days, VR and AR, so augmented reality, augmenting the world and space around you, is really all super accessible through mobile phone tech, through desktop and any other device that you’re using. So it’s actually really accessible and really all it’s talking about, or largely in the property space, it’s just connecting those dots between instead of having to travel somewhere or have to provide access or gain access to a property, ultimately it puts all that in the technology that you’re already using.
Kylie Davis (07:53)
Fantastic. And so I have spent 18 months of my life pregnant, and I was nauseous the entire time. And my experiences with very early VR and gaming and stuff like that were to make me want to vomit. So is that still going to happen? How has the technology advanced?
Michael Shaw (08:17)
The thing that I’ve noticed, because obviously our point of difference with our company is we actually provide mobile virtual reality, which actually takes into account a technology called six degrees of freedom, which tracks your movement in all locations. And what you’re talking about in terms of the previous people getting nauseous is because the technology in the past, the tracking of your movement wasn’t at the same as your eyes were tracking, so you would get that lag effect. But what has happened in recent years is that the billions of dollars that meta and Apple and Google have been investing in this hardware. That experience is just so much better. And so we have people trying virtual reality every day, and that’s now not an issue because of that, tracking of that movement has become so much better.
Michael Shaw (09:05)
So, yeah, it’s definitely something that people still need to experience to get over, but, yeah, it’s not an issue anymore.
Kylie Davis (09:12)
Yeah, and I think you raise a great point there, Michael, that meta and Google are investing absolutely millions and millions of dollars in this technology. So let’s maybe dive into the real estate cases for it, because really heavily invested technology, huge improvements in the space, some of the objections to using it now starting to dissolve. Josh, let’s start with you and kind of the residential real estate area, what does Little Hinges do and how long have you been doing that for? What’s your USP in VR?
Josh Callaghan (09:50)
Yes, so we’ve been going on almost four years now. It’ll be four years in April. We’re Australia’s leading supplier of the digital assets for listings for resi real estate agents in order to be able to attract, engage and convert their audience. So on the interaction, that’s all professional photography, 2d floor plan drones, and all of the photo editing that you expect. The engagement is really where the VR comes in. And in particular for us, it’s in virtual tours. So that’s about engaging the audience, and then our platform is what converts the audience, so it allows your full agency ecosystem to be connected into that highly engaged
Josh Callaghan (10:38)
It can’t just be for the sake of the tech. It has to actually serve a purpose and have a really meaningful impact commercially for organizations. And so we’ve spent a lot of time making sure that the value of virtual tours is fully connected in that real estate agents ecosystem.
Kylie Davis (10:54)
Yeah. And so when is it being most effective or when are people really wanting to do a virtual tour? Is it at the start of the journey? Is it halfway through? What’s the year?
Josh Callaghan (11:08)
Yeah, what we generally find is that we’ll see generally somewhere between sort of 20% to 30% of the audience that clicks through a carousel on realestate.com go into the actual virtual tour. The reason being is that it is something that the user has to push into and it is active. It’s not like a video watch, which is passive, or flicking through photos, which is somewhat stimulating. You have to put your effort into walking around and wanting to inspect it. So you only see highly engaged buyers that are using it or highly engaged renters, people who are actually interested in measuring up, spending time, understanding whether the space is actually right for them. Our experience says that it sits right before the conversion.
Josh Callaghan (12:01)
So people who are highly engaged in the virtual tour are also those people who are most likely to put an inquiry through to the agent to make an offer or put an application in or take that next step because it is quite involved.
Kylie Davis (12:21)
We know that a picture can tell us 1000 words, but also 1000 lies, especially in real estate, like with fisheye lenses, making rooms look bigger and things like that. Is that how people are using it to actually get a sense of proportion of the place that they’re looking at?
Josh Callaghan (12:35)
Yeah, I think so. What we see is we analyze where one of their analytics looks at where people are actually walking through the property. And what we see is that it lines up very closely with what agents tell us anecdotally of where, when they open up the open home and people walk through of exactly where people spend the time and where they don’t spend the time. And so we see that basically mimicked, like for like in the virtual tour. So they tend to walk around and pay more attention in the kitchen and they’re doing things like pulling out the measuring tape to have a look at how big the bench spaces are. They’re looking at fridge spaces, they’re seeing where there’s a dishwasher, that sort of stuff.
Josh Callaghan (13:16)
Whereas bedroom number three, which is a three meter by three meter box with a built in wardrobe, they’re not spending any time in sticking their head in and. Exactly, that’s right, yeah. And so it does allow for that. That’s why we’re specific about those three elements, which is attraction, engagement and conversion, because it is right to make the house look pretty, to attract the most amount of buyers, like, you should probably use great lenses, really good angles, and spend some time editing it to attract them. But the qualification of that audience and buyers that are actually interested need to be able to have that digital access to the property.
Kylie Davis (13:55)
Yeah. And so you saw a big spike during COVID because obviously people couldn’t do inspections. What’s happened post Covid? Has everyone just gone back to, oh, we’ll just go back to open homes, or is it sticking?
Josh Callaghan (14:10)
We’ve had. So you would think there would be a big spike in Covid. Covid definitely spiked. The awareness of virtual tour has been around for a long time and people have been talking about it a lot. Covid definitely meant that our job was a lot easier talking to people about virtual tours. But as far as adoption goes, as you might remember, Covid coincided with an enormous property boon and a literal unstopping wave of buyers. And went through that period where all you really needed was an address to sell a house. Everything was going so quickly, and so when it came to actually having to curate a digital audience down a funnel towards conversion, it just didn’t actually serve a purpose.
Kylie Davis (14:55)
Market was too hot.
Josh Callaghan (14:56)
Yeah, market was too hot. As a result, it didn’t create that immediate adoption. We’ve found though, that probably in the last twelve months in particular, just through the ongoing grind and I guess educating the agents and connecting in with their systems deeper and deeper. We’ve had a lot stronger growth in the last, say, year and a half than we did in the first year and a half.
Kylie Davis (15:25)
Okay, fantastic.So now you’re using Matterport because you guys don’t create the tech, but just talk us through how that works with.
Josh Callaghan (15:37)
Yeah, so we do a full sort of one stop shop. So we’ve actually employed the technicians that come out on site to do the capture. They do the entire capture using Matterport simply because Matterport is the best technology out there right now to create 3d virtual tours of the built world. It creates a much more immersive experience and allows for that engagement of the user, which is critical to conversion and helping them through the property. At some stage in the future, maybe that’s something different. We’re not tied into it. Our technology stack and the rest of our environment is agnostic to what the piece of content is. But right now, yeah, Matterport’s the best, and so that’s why we use it.
Josh Callaghan (16:16)
We’re actually our largest client in Australasia and one of the largest, I think, in the top two in the world in terms of the number of scans that we produce every month.
Kylie Davis (16:26)
Okay, fantastic. And so what are the top three things that your clients are doing that is making VR really successful for them?
Josh Callaghan (16:36)
I think one of the things that took us by surprise was that property management have actually gripped it way faster than sales have. That definitely took us by surprise.
Kylie Davis (16:44)
Go property management girl.
Josh Callaghan (16:46)
Yeah, that’s right.
Kylie Davis (16:46)
Josh Callaghan (16:47)
Legend. And so I think the reason for that is that we can create a very cost effective way of producing a high quality listing assets without the need for a professional photographer for those particular applications. We do have professional photographers as well, but for a couple of $100 we can be out on site, do a full virtual tour and extract images from there and create the floor plan. And so you get this very cost effective and high quality product to be able to take to market, which was new and unique, and still is unique in that market. The other thing that property management love is having a dated and timed entry like condition sort of view so they can go back. And it’s already held up in VCAT and QCAT. I’m not familiar, we only hear it through anecdotes.
Josh Callaghan (17:38)
So I’m not familiar with any particular cases in other jurisdictions. But it talks to the fact that, I guess one of the big risks is when you get to that claim time, what happens and what you can rely on in terms of some of the written inspection reports and stuff on the sales, though where we found it is starting to get some good momentum, is actually in being able to drop in, like, expression of interest forms, that sort of stuff, directly to the user, so that it just connects immediately with someone who’s spending a fair bit of time in that virtual tour and walking around. They’ve got that really logical next step for them. And so that’s starting to provide some value to our sales agents as well, those of which who are using it at least.
Josh Callaghan (18:25)
So, yeah, so they’re probably the big things that we see.
Kylie Davis (18:28)
Okay, and so what do you think is the future of VR and residential property? Where do you see it going?
Josh Callaghan (18:34)
Yeah, I think some people would say that it’s all you need. We’ve definitely got some people in the space that suggest that you can throw away the rest of the stuff. It’s just make the property available digitally and that’s the end of the game. And I don’t think that’s right. I think there is still the element of having to attract the audience, and marketing is marketing, and so there’s a whole lot of component pieces there. I think the future, though, is actually deepening a lot of the data and the audience value that comes out of virtual tours. Deepening that in terms of having two way conversations whilst people are in tour, being able to guide people through a tour and do.
Josh Callaghan (19:17)
There’s so much value that the agents and property managers create by helping a buyer or a renter understand the property, understand the area, create value there. And so I think the short to medium future is, I think we’ll see a lot more tech come into the space that allows the agent to play their primary part, which is so critical in all of these sort of transactions.
Kylie Davis (19:44)
Fantastic. Michael, let’s move to you. Nick. I’m just going to ask a question to make sure is my background, because I’m not unusual background. Is it reverse still? Because it looks reverse for me and I’m not.
Michael Shaw (19:56)
Kylie Davis (19:57)
Okay, good. All right, I just want to make sure we’re not recording this and I’m looking like a goofball for the entire recording. If that’s the case. Now I just look like it for 2 seconds while I ask the question. So look, Michael, EnvisionVR, your background’s in construction, so I really want to kind of unpack this a little bit. How did you start EnvisionVR? And what sector of the VR market are you specializing in?
Michael Shaw (20:24)
Yeah, thanks. Yeah, as you mentioned, my background is in construction. So I was worked for some large construction companies, but also did a lot of my own property development. So that’s why I’m very familiar with the property space. And that’s where I first realized the core problem of what we solve is people really struggle to be able to understand a future unbuilt space or home. And so that’s either through the design and construction phase or actually through the selling off the plan, either through apartments or volume homes. So that was the core problem, that people just can’t read floor plans or they don’t know what a space is going to be like. And as soon as I tried my first VR headset, I just knew that this was the answer. You can solve all that problem of people being, having to imagine something.
Michael Shaw (21:19)
They can actually just see it and not only see it, but actually experience it and walk around it. So that’s where the core idea started from. But since then, we’ve now built a platform that allows anyone to be able to visualize and experience these future spaces. But we’ve not only done that, but we’ve actually opened up that platform for any 3d designer around the world to be able to create these spaces. So that’s any architect or any CGI studio can create these faces. That’s what we do in terms of empowering those designers. But then once we’ve got these spaces, then it allows the property professionals, say, the agents, the builders and the developers to be able to use those spaces to sell or design for their clients.
Kylie Davis (22:05)
Okay, so just step me through what the sort of workflow or what the flow of it looks like. You’ve built sort of workflow software through this software. So I am a builder and I hire an architect and he or she draws up the plans. And then what happens after that?
Michael Shaw (22:27)
Yeah, so every architect these days, through their design process, they model in 3d. So that’s multiple softwares like Sketchup, Revit, Archicad, and they use these 3d designs, and then they use those 3d models to create their floor plans or some renders, and there is some software that you can then view them in virtual reality when you’re plugged into a computer or if you got special hardware to access them. But our point of difference is that we make those 3d designs really user friendly for the general public to be able to experience them. And so we allow those architects to be able to share those designs on your mobile phone, a tablet, on the web, and also in the latest virtual reality headsets. And then it allows their clients to then walk around them, but also then meet with their architect or their designer virtually.
Michael Shaw (23:21)
So similar to what Josh’s technology does in terms of the agents showing them around, we allow the designer or that agent to meet their client in the space and then either walk through the space to design or walk through the space to sell.
Kylie Davis (23:34)
Right. Okay, so just so I’m clear, the architects or the designers, they’re using the software that they would normally use, and then your software is sort of like a bridge over to how that’s then being presented. Or is it an alternative to design?
Michael Shaw (23:49)
Yeah, no, exactly. We are not a company that is trying to be a 3d modeling software. So there’s plenty out there, and Autodesk owns that market and Google would sketch up. But our platform is trying to be 3d software agnostic in terms of we want to be able to ingest any design that it’s done by any 3d professional around the world, and so that they can then have a user friendly, easy way for them to share those experiences with their clients.
Kylie Davis (24:16)
Okay. When were talking on the proptech podcast recently, you were telling me about how the different kinds of VR, like AR and Mr. And XR. So for the benefits of the audience, what are those different R’s and how do they all relate to each?
Michael Shaw (24:40)
Yeah. Yeah. It’s good timing. This question, just by chance. Our current company name is called EnvisionVR, but we’re actually doing a bit of a rebranding and actually changing that to EnvisionXR. And that’s because XR stands for extended reality, which covers all the forms that you just mentioned in terms of VR, AR and. Mr. And the reason why we’re doing that is because we are more than just virtual reality. Our platform is across all devices in terms of phones, web and VR and tablets. But the difference is that virtual reality is when you’re fully immersed in the virtual world. So you’re using generally a virtual headset, virtual reality headset and you’re fully immersed in that digital space.
Michael Shaw (25:27)
And that digital space can be anything from something that doesn’t exist, or it can be recreation of the real world, but you’re fully immersed in that experience, where augmented reality is actually when there is 3d elements or 3d environment that is overlaid and put inside the real world. So it’s more augmenting the real world. So therefore, our experience, to show you what that example is we have the ability for users to be able to drop their property on their future site and then actually walk around in one to one scale, but then actually look out the windows of the virtual home and see what the real view would look like, because you can actually see using the camera, you can see what the view will look like of your future home or apartment.
Michael Shaw (26:16)
And then mixed reality is kind of a combination of the both. It’s more similar to augmented reality, but it’s where the virtual assets and the virtual world actually work with the real world. So they kind of work together. So they’re interacting. So when something changes in the real world, the virtual world will engage and give you some information and feedback. So it’s kind of a combination of the two.
Kylie Davis (26:42)
Right. Fantastic. And so how is the business case for your clients? How is it different between how do you pitch sort of architects and designers versus real estate agents or commercial property owners? How are you positioning yourself there?
Michael Shaw (27:02)
Yeah, so we have two main use cases and two main feature sets that we offer our clients that use our virtual experiences, and that’s a soft offering called design with or sell with. And so generally, the architects of the world are using the design with functionalities, where you can create their spaces, which they’re designing the homes. And then they can meet inside the space and use measuring tapes and pointers and sticky notes. And they can actually do a design kind of design process with their clients, but also then share that with their family and friends and through that design process. But then we have the sell with functionality, which is generally used by the agents and the developers of the world that are trying to sell off the plan.
Michael Shaw (27:52)
And so that’s obviously very powerful, because the home and the space doesn’t exist, and they’re trying to communicate that. And so this is generally used by a different design professional as well. It’s generally used from a CGI studio. And so the quality of those experiences are generally very high quality, like they look. So because they’re trying to sell multi million dollar properties. And so generally, those feature sets change a little bit again. So that’s when the agent wants to be able to guide the person through the experience and really take control of it, but also show the different styles and finishes and views. But then finally, they also are quite demanding and like similar what Josh mentioned, and they want to know the analytics that come behind that.
Michael Shaw (28:34)
So we track where people go in the space, how long they’re in the space, who they’re sharing it with. All that data is very critical for that selling agent to then make that sale and have a competitive advantage over everyone else.
Kylie Davis (28:47)
Fantastic. Now we’re getting a couple of questions through the chat, and if anyone’s got questions, please pop them into chat or into the Q A and we’ll get to them. And I’ve got a cracking question for the end of this one, which I want you all to think about, which is around buyer demand for this. So end users, not real estate agents and not property owners, who are your direct clients, but end users, what’s the pressure coming down the pipe for that? But we’re going to move on to you now, Christian, because you guys were the winners of the proptech awards last year. So congratulations. Tell us a little bit about IMMERSIV. How did you start and get involved in the VR space?
Christian Schwredtfeger (29:29)
Yeah, so myself and fellow co founder Clip Motley, we originally started as a 3d render studio and animation. So we have a lot of experience with developers across house on land, master plans and apartments, basically delivering all kinds of solutions for project marketing. But in 2020, there was some really groundbreaking technology that got released and that enabled us to pivot our core service into real time digital twins. So we still offer renders and animation as part of the project marketing lifecycle. But what the digital twin aspect and bringing that on board really allowed us to do is complete our entire portfolio into a complete sales and marketing presentation platform. So it really just provides the whole holistic platform that we have now.
Kylie Davis (30:16)
Okay, so we hear a lot about digital twins in proptech. Give us an explanation of what they really are and what they do.
Christian Schwredtfeger (30:24)
Yeah, so a digital twin really is just like a virtual replica of an unbuilt space. So what it basically does is we take digital twins the next level. So we really provide an experience where buyers can step inside a development, whether that be an apartment or looking around a house on land, virtual display village. And it’s really valuable for sales agents because they’re able to give a profound communication example to a buyer of what something’s going to look like and leave no stone unturned in terms of all the information that’s on display. So buyers are becoming a lot more savvy these days, and probably thanks to Josh and Little Hinges, by providing virtual tours of built spaces.
Christian Schwredtfeger (31:03)
Now that demand is being brought over to unbuilt, where they’re wanting to look around the corner, look around the butler’s pantry, and not just see possibly static 3d render images. So they’re wanting to get a lot more information. They’re also doing a lot more research in their own time prior to coming to the showroom. So what our solution offers is really an example for them to get a whole lot of information and then come to the showroom fully equipped to really make an informed purchase decision.
Kylie Davis (31:31)
Yeah, I guess, look, quoting from that australian classic, the castle in the unbuilt space, it’s always been, come to the showroom because that’s the vibe, but it’s not the constitution. Whereas you guys are actually saying, look, we can actually walk you through before it’s built, you can actually see the detail of it. Right?
Christian Schwredtfeger (31:49)
That’s right, yeah. We have to be mindful that the deals are still done in the showroom, so the sales agent is really important. So it’s really just about equipping them with more tools. People aren’t buying property traditionally for unbuilt over the phone or telephone or video conferencing. It does happen a little bit, but really they’re still coming into the showroom. So it’s about widening that reach by offering a solution online. So they can come into the showroom and then get walked through with the sales agent.
Kylie Davis (32:16)
Yeah. And look, I imagine that one of the really big benefits of it is the ability to, I guess it gives the buyer a lot of confidence about what they’re actually getting. Right. So they know that it doesn’t feel as scary going through that whole new home.
Christian Schwredtfeger (32:34)
Absolutely. And it really improves the transparency within the industry. Like some builders typically haven’t wanted to release a lot of information. But what this does is really if a developer goes out with this sort of strategy, they’re really saying, look, this is what we’re offering. Here’s all the benefits, here’s everywhere that we’re offering, so the buyer feels a lot more comfortable.
Kylie Davis (32:57)
Yeah. And look, clicks are easier to move than bricks. Right? So looking at things in the early design stage or seeing what the property looks like and then deciding, actually, no, I don’t want that version of the kitchen, I want the upgrade or whatever, and being able to actually see and make those decisions. Have you got any evidence that talk through or user cases that you can talk through in that space?
Christian Schwredtfeger (33:24)
Yeah, sure. So if you look for an apartment example, if you have a digital twin and apartment, they can walk through it in an unbuilt sense. A buyer can swap a color scheme for a kitchen. They can even say, okay, I don’t like that wall being there. Let’s make a design fly now before we actually get to build. And a lot of developers are comfortable with that and they’ll actually make physical design changes based on being able to walk through and understand the space and give an accurate depiction of what a buyer actually wants. So we’re seeing a lot of developers now actually being quite custom and not just offering set floor plans, they’re being quite flexible with buyers as well.
Kylie Davis (34:04)
This is a complete question without notice. Christian, sorry for springing it on you and it might be too early, but have you got any evidence? Because we know in new builds there’s a big issue with make goods. So, like, the property is built and then something hasn’t turned out right and so the builder has to come back and fix things. Are we seeing any reduction where VR has been used in that or is it too early yet?
Christian Schwredtfeger (34:30)
No, I’ve got one example where I can share from that. So we did a project called the lanes down in Mermaid beach and it’s a two hectare retail site, and this is between the developer and our design team. But basically we presented the first iteration of the digital twin. We’re showing 52 retail tenancies and he’s ultra impressive being able to look around. But what he did notice is that his vision that he had in his head was not aligned to how it actually looks. So he made a large design change of his own where he rendered, I think, 35% of the built form on the exterior to match really what his expectations were for when it would be built.
Kylie Davis (35:11)
Yeah, I guess because we’re talking about millions and millions of dollars here in these buildings. And if you wake up to go and inspect it after it’s built and go, oh, actually it doesn’t be kind of an issue. What are the biggest benefits that are convincing your clients to jump on board and what are the blockers?
Christian Schwredtfeger (35:36)
So definitely the interactivity. So buyers, as I mentioned before, they’re expecting a lot more now. And sales teams have really had to adapt to these consumer demands. So being fully interactive, it just gives the sales agents a lot more tools to be able to stand out from the competition. And because we offer a showroom solution, which is the ability for myself as a buyer, for example, and a sales agent to literally walk through everywhere that’s been a big benefit for them and then online as well. So garnering that reach to an interstate or a global audience to get more eyeballs on the projects been very pivotal as well.
Kylie Davis (36:14)
So just so I understand that correctly, I can go into the showroom and I am sitting down with the sales agent and going through it with him or her to get that typically be.
Christian Schwredtfeger (36:25)
On a showroom, on a wall mounted tv, or like a touch screen, and they’ll walk you through. You can put on a VR headset as well. It’s just up to the client. It’s an add on for us. It’s not our core product. We prefer to offer the solution with the sales agent to have that one one direction and eye contact and converse. Sometimes when you put headset on, you can essentially feel a little bit blindfolded. Even though it is quite immersive, we still feel the best way is for direct contact with the sales agent to converse and make changes on the fly.
Kylie Davis (36:58)
Yeah. And do you find that the willingness to embrace the headset is age or demographic, especially age related?
Christian Schwredtfeger (37:08)
Absolutely, yes. The younger demographic are more willing to put it on more consumer level, but the older demographic, they’re used to buying property in a way like brochures, old school. But some of the blockers really has been, from the developer and sales team’s point of view, has been just that reluctance to change so long. They’ve been inherently using traditional tactics that have been tried and tested. But what we’ve really seen is a lot of 3d visualization companies prop up in the last few years offering more interactive technologies. That’s a good sign for the industry that it’s heading beyond that and we’re getting more to an interactive level.
Kylie Davis (37:46)
I’d be really curious to see if having gone into the showroom, which is pretty big, buying signal in itself, and then put on the headset or gone through the virtual thing, I’d be really interested to see whether the people who enjoy that experience then go online and share that virtual experience with friends and family, or to see whether what the correlation was like there with the buying signal or like with conversion.
Christian Schwredtfeger (38:18)
Yeah, I mean, from that standpoint, we don’t have a lot of data based on that because once we hand over, the tech agents really drive it from there. But, yeah, it’s an interesting point.
Kylie Davis (38:29)
Right. Okay, Kylie.
Josh Callaghan (38:31)
We do a few jobs with stockies as they’re building. What it does is like a progress report, I guess. So we go and scan it when it’s just a frame and then the next stage. And we did find, or we do find that what will happen is the person buying might be here or located in Australia, but as they’re receiving those, they’re then sending it out to friends and family all over the world. And we get little pings in from family that’s over in the UK or India or wherever it happens to be as they’re sharing, because it’s a big exciting time for them, right? Building a house, it’s their personal thing, and so it’s a way of them sharing and engaging their broader family instead of just all the.
Josh Callaghan (39:18)
I don’t know if you’ve had friends build property or family, but they do the drive by iPhone photo and you get these sketchy iPhone photos. It’s such a more meaningful way of engaging their family and friends.
Kylie Davis (39:30)
I love that because we hear everyone wants buying or building or renovating a property to be an exciting experience. I mean, where else are you going to spend so much money in your whole life? You want that to be fun, right? It should be retail therapy on absolute speed, but it’s so often not, and it’s so often the source of the biggest arguments with, between spouses. Anxiety, tension and stress. So I love this idea that there are tools out there now that are turning moments that can be quite stressful or anxiety making into moments of shared joy. Right. Because we do want to love our homes. We know that from COVID Christian, just to go back to you, what have been the biggest advancements that have. I’ve got two questions for you.
Kylie Davis (40:29)
What have been the biggest advancements that have been impacting the work that you guys are doing? And are you handing off your digital twin post so that it can be part of the ongoing sort of maintenance and management of the buildings, or how does that work?
Christian Schwredtfeger (40:42)
So, going very techy now. So the biggest advancements we’ve seen are in the high power gpus, and that’s really been instrumental in being able to create a premium solution that mimics a built well. So not all digital twins are created equal. So we sit at the really top end of the market. So using programs like Unreal Engine, they’re the world’s most premium game engine, where we can really build these immersive experiences out. That’s been really pivotal and also cloud computing in terms of pixel streaming. Pixel streaming is the ability to host these really high fidelity models in the cloud so people can actually engage with them interactively on their own. Obviously have to be designed really well and intuitive for the user to use, but that’s been the biggest sort of advancements in terms of technology.
Kylie Davis (41:34)
Yeah. So going back to that other question around the digital twin and its potential post build to support the ongoing maintenance and asset management, and later on potentially renovations or things, how has that play out with you guys?
Christian Schwredtfeger (41:54)
Yes, definitely for build to rent. That’s a huge proponent. So in build to rent, so. But typically, if off the plan, the builder will design the offering and then they’ll sell it out, and then the digital twin will really say for their marketing material to say, this is what we’ve done in the past, and they can build a library of projects. But when you’re talking about build to rent, they’re perpetual. So they’re obviously built, they’re selling off the plan there, but they’re actually leasing them out. So when a new rental is available, they can just revert back to the digital twin and say, we have a live inventory on our one where we can show what’s available and what’s not.
Christian Schwredtfeger (42:30)
So if you’re a rental tenant looking to buy into a new built to rent development, two years post development, you can log on, see what’s available, and then just make an inquiry simply like that. And it’s not something that can be done with drone photography. Even once it’s built, people often ask, well, why can’t we just use real life photos and video? Which you still can, but you can only interact with a 3d model in a 360 space and zoom around it and interact if it’s in a 3d environment.
Kylie Davis (42:58)
Right. Okay. What are some of the biggest lessons that you’ve learned in selling VR tech since starting IMMERSIV?
Michael Shaw (43:09)
Christian Schwredtfeger (43:10)
I would say the old saying, build it and they will come, certainly doesn’t exist in prop tech. We’ve really had to listen to our clients and work with our developers. We did a lot of buyer surveys to really find out what people actually want and need and developed a project and a platform around that, and also working with the technology and not against it.
Kylie Davis (43:33)
Right. Okay, so look, let’s open this up to a more general discussion, because I love where this is going. What are some of the user cases that you think that we should be solving through VR that maybe we’re not yet or that are coming up next? Oh, that’s got everyone’s jumped.
Michael Shaw (43:58)
I think something that is happening already, but it’s definitely going to be probably one of the biggest growth sectors in virtual reality is education. I think the ability for people to be able to just imagine a future classroom where instead of learning about space or ancient history or things, where you can actually have the whole classroom in the space and having a teacher talk you through what the pyramids used to look like or what this satellite is doing and stuff that I think is definitely going to be a growth sector and it’s going to be more and more used in schools and classrooms. So I definitely think that’s going to be one of the biggest sectors.
Kylie Davis (44:38)
And what about it? Sorry, you go, Josh.
Josh Callaghan (44:40)
I was going to say, in the built environment, I think one of the big future growth sectors will actually be the intersection with retail. So we know that so much retail is done online. And the big conversion point problem that exists right now is that I need to go to the showroom or I need to get a measuring tape out and measure up to work out whether the couch fits or this fits or that fits. And so when you got a fully immersive 3d schematic of the property, there’s no reason you can’t drag and drop things into your property and be able to buy it directly knowing that it fits, knowing that it suits and all that sort of stuff. Dangerous.
Michael Shaw (45:23)
Just to say that we’re actually launching that feature in about six months. I agree with you on that.
Christian Schwredtfeger (45:33)
We sit at the sales and marketing when the project’s ready to be launched, part of the funnel. But a lot of our inquiries starting to come through from an early stakeholder engagement point of view. So to assist with development applications for councils and planners to be able to actually envisage at a very basic schematic level before we put all the bells and whistles onto it, to be able to provide an experience where they can take it to council, associate it with their DA and say, this is what we’re proposing, this is how it fits into the landscape, all the surrounding infrastructure we bring in as well. So that’s been something that’s been bubling away and a product we’ll probably expand into in the future.
Kylie Davis (46:11)
I love that idea. Because that solves the NIMBY issue, right? Because most NIMBY concerns are, I don’t really understand the plans that you’re showing me, but my fears are, and there’s no way of consoling people’s fears because you’re requiring their imagination to build the picture of what they’re reading on the plans. I love that.
Christian Schwredtfeger (46:35)
We are on a project we’re working on now. It’s actually in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. It’s a development pipeline of 15 towers across two cities and the client is wanting to look at because obviously Riyadh is exploding with development and they’re wanting to actually see how. Because we do a real life time of day representation. So they wanted to see how the shadows will cast across other areas of the area interactively.
Kylie Davis (47:01)
Oh look, we could have rebuilt the Gold coast if we. We can digitally twin the Gold coast and work out where all the shadows are on the beach. And I love this idea too, of the retail coming into it. Be still my beating Amex card. Right? Because we know that what happens when people are building or buying a new home and they’ve got an awful lot of, they’ve got their mortgage organized. That’s when people are most likely to buy cars, furniture, because they’re basically cashed up to do that. But being able to drag and drop it is a phenomenal idea.
Michael Shaw (47:39)
Yeah, we’re very excited about, as you kind of mentioned, that’s at the point where they’re in that kind of purchasing stage, but they’re also got a new space that they’re trying to fill and they don’t know the dimensions, they don’t know what that looks like and stuff. So yeah, we already have the ability to drop furniture and move it around, but when we unlock it’s going to be in your new home. So you’ll be able to actually design your new home and walk around it and see the perspective. But then link that to, like you just said, the catalog. So the Ikea’s of the world.
Kylie Davis (48:10)
Nick scaries the king furnitures. Yeah. Lovely, lovely. I’m loving it. Don’t tell my husband. So how do we convince developers and real estate agents that this is something that is essential in the buyer journey?
Christian Schwredtfeger (48:33)
I can give a couple of examples just in terms of awareness. So as said before, people come and they ask, they want some kind of VR education really is a big piece. So we do that through demonstrations and marketing material. But also case studies of previous IMMERSIV projects have been really pivotal. Also, from our point of view, partnerships have been extremely beneficial. So we’ve been fortunate to work with Realestate.com au to obviously embed our full immersive platform into their project profiles. They invited us tour around the country with them last year, so were able to meet with 600 developers and give them some really solid foundational awareness during that tour. And obviously winning the two awards with proptech was good as well. And then finally, differentiation.
Christian Schwredtfeger (49:21)
So showing how we sit really at the premium end of the 3d visualization solution and representing how much r and d we put into the project to show all the functionality and really sell those key benefits that we’re offering.
Kylie Davis (49:36)
Michael, how are you converting clients and dealing with objections?
Michael Shaw (49:42)
Yeah, we are kind of approaching the slightly different angle, I suppose, but we’re also trying to cater for the people that our product is very high and in terms of, it’s very lifelike quality, but we also cater for the more people that are just building their own homes. So at that point, their budgets aren’t as high as well. So where the ability for the uptake of virtual reality does come down to money as well. So the headsets and the hardware is getting a lot cheaper. The awareness through Apple entering the market is huge.
Michael Shaw (50:18)
But then, similar to what Christian said, having not just the virtual reality experience, but bringing those experiences into something that is more common, whether it’s on a phone using augmented reality, which everyone’s comfortable with, then also on the web, like Christian mentioned, as well, like, our experiences are also on Rea. So you take them through that funnel. So as long as the price point is really low, the experience is amazing, and the barrier to entry from what they’re already comfortable with is taken care of. We believe that’s going to be a recipe for success.
Kylie Davis (50:53)
And I’ve just had a thought. When we talk about augmented reality, we’re talking like Pokemon, right?
Michael Shaw (51:02)
Pokemon Go is the most successful augmented reality experience.
Kylie Davis (51:08)
Okay, so I’m holding up my phone, and I can see my new home sitting on the block, exactly where I wanted it located. And it looks gorgeous. And I go, actually, no, I don’t want that front door. Yeah, change the front door. Okay.
Michael Shaw (51:21)
Exactly. You described it perfectly.
Kylie Davis (51:22)
Awesome. Okay. Awesome. Josh, how are you converting? How are you overcoming objections?
Josh Callaghan (51:28)
Yeah, I mean, resi real estate is a bit different to the space that these guys deal in, obviously. So we’ve done it probably in a couple of ways. One is repositioning the game that we play. So were very much a pure play virtual tour house. That’s what we wanted to specialize in. We’ve now incorporated the full digital asset pack that allows basically, I mean, for a sales agent, for example, anywhere around Australia, it’s $499 for everything you need to get it on real estate.com. Professional photos, touch ups, 2d floor plan, full immersive virtual experience. So all just ready to go. Upload it, you’re done. So we’ve had to change our proposition to meet them where they are. But the other things is with just providing better utility. We’ve got a partnership with a great company called Sellsmart.
Josh Callaghan (52:16)
And so they solve a problem of being able to bring stock to market sooner, because that’s one of the challenges of agents, is I’m talking to a vendor and they’re sort of like, oh, yeah, I’ll put it on market, but I just want to get a repaint done and get some new flooring and whatever. Well, our virtual tour and the data that sits off the back of it allows for all that quoting to happen instantly. Get trades organized, and you’re done. So it brings stock to market sooner, and then.
Kylie Davis (52:45)
Hang on, we need to unpack that. I’m doing a virtual tour now, or I’m doing a kind of quick tour of my home. And that’s being used to, quote, for trades.
Josh Callaghan (52:58)
Yeah, that’s right. Exactly. Through Sellsmart. Yeah. Which is incredible because they’ve got this trusted network, a really well vetted trusted network of trades. And they work with their agents or their agencies, I should say, to use their trades and stuff as well. But what it means is that at the click of a button, basically you’ve got all the quotes you need. You go, cool, that much for flooring, that much for painting, that much for whatever. And instead of waiting for the vendor or trying to help them and hold their hand on this whole quoting and execution process, you can get it done. The best thing is they’ve partnered with campaign agent. The best thing is you finance it all, take it all to settlement, and you’re off.
Kylie Davis (53:43)
Oh, my God.
Josh Callaghan (53:45)
Kylie Davis (53:46)
Be still my betting heart. So, just to be very clear, we are talking about capturing, I guess you’re getting the measurements, you’re getting the whole kind of volume and real insights into what the property looks like. And the changes that are being done are real world changes. They’re not just virtual changes. They’re not just like a virtual coat of paint. They’re real world changes.
Josh Callaghan (54:06)
No, that’s right.
Kylie Davis (54:07)
Real world changes.
Josh Callaghan (54:08)
Men will turn up in overalls and do their thing.
Kylie Davis (54:12)
Josh Callaghan (54:13)
Exactly. That’s exactly right. Yeah, exactly. Which is a game changer of a proposition. So there’s that, which is just providing value to agents. Right. And meeting them where they need. And for us, that’s also about lead generation and being like a lot of our property managers, integrate their application forms. Just that one step alone that allows me just to qualify that. Christian’s been through the tour, and he’s spent a few minutes, and now he’s filled in. An application just makes the difference in those, particularly in the markets where, like most of our markets at the moment, where you’re inundated with applications and not all of them are serious about it. It allows you to qualify very quickly.
Josh Callaghan (54:51)
So, yeah, I think for us, we had to change our positioning so that we’re playing on the playing fields that they already use and we dominate that space now. But it’s all about finding these really high utility, high value moments in the agents world that creates enough value for them to not be able to work any other way but use it.
Kylie Davis (55:16)
Yeah. And look, do you know what I have loved about this discussion is that the built environment, construction, building real estate has since time immemorial, been a data black hole. Or that the data has been completely opaque in that, not the core logic kind of how much is that space worth or anything, but how many bricks went into that wall? How long does it take us to build it? How big is that room? All of the really fine detail about the actual asset and the quality of the materials that are going into it and the appearance and its positioning and all of that sort of stuff. It’s kind of like one of the last unknowns in property. But what you guys are doing is that you’re capturing sort of now and next what that built environment is going to look like.
Kylie Davis (56:09)
And the data coming off that for the future is going to be quite astonishing. So what we’re also seeing around environmental upgrades and energy efficiency upgrades, with all of these things about our existing properties and being able to visualize what they look like and sort of insert them artificially or augment them into existing environments or new environments, we’ll be able to start to model out exactly what the performance looks like. Right. What the future performance looks like.
Christian Schwredtfeger (56:44)
Yeah, we are actually doing a pilot at the moment with Monash University, where we’re trialing our energy consumption can be monitored in real time. Looking to bring on that prop track as well, to be able to present that data. But basically, there’s been some changes coming out around sustainability and six star homes of the future. And then when you look on something like realestate.com, you’ll be able to actually see the energy usage of that home that you’re buying, whether it be built or unbuilt.
Kylie Davis (57:14)
Yeah. And I think probably the next step of that is now that we’ve bought this house and we’re thinking of renovating it. Give me a virtual look or let me see what it’s going to look like with panels on the front and the changes out the back to make the airflow better and then help me model what I’m actually going to save. As opposed to typing it into a little 2d calculator and hoping I’ve got the numbers right, because you guys have got 360 days worth of weather for the last five years running through your VR or through your back end. Look, fellas, it has been an absolutely fabulous discussion. Is there anything just a little bit around the grounds. Is there anything else that you’d just like to add before we finish off? Michael, do you want to kick off?
Michael Shaw (57:58)
Yeah, well, no. Thank you for having us. Yeah, I’m just really excited to be part of this conversation. It’s been great to talk to everyone. Yeah, obviously, keep an eye out for our launch. We’re doing a big launch in March, so that’s all I could say.
Kylie Davis (58:11)
Yeah. Awesome. Christian?
Christian Schwredtfeger (58:13)
Yeah, no, thank you very much, Kylie, for the invitation. Demystifying VR is something that we’re confronted with every day and hope this webinar sort of appeased a bit of that confusion in the market and. Yeah, thank you.
Kylie Davis (58:28)
Yeah. And I love all the projects that you guys are working on across so many different parts of it. It’s not just the ability to walk through a. Josh, Josh, what’s your last comment for?
Josh Callaghan (58:39)
Thanks. Thanks. Definitely. Thanks for having us. And thanks for joining us, boys, on a great chat. I think it’s just don’t be afraid of it. In the same way that you wouldn’t be trying to sell stuff in a store without an online presence or a digital website. Interacting with property digitally is easy. It’s very cost effective these days, particularly since so much of the industry has already started to mature towards how do we make your job easier? How do we make leads easier? Improve your business. It’s not just a quirky toy that nerds work with. It’s actually something that’s really meaningful to your business. So if you’re not already adopting it or checking it out or using it, just reach out to one of us or someone else, you know, and get amongst it.
Kylie Davis (59:30)
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank you so much, Josh. Thanks, Michael. Thanks, Christian. It’s been a fantastic conversation. And thanks for being on the proptech panel.
Christian Schwredtfeger (59:40)
Josh Callaghan (59:41)
Kylie Davis (59:42)
Thanks, guys. Thanks, everyone who’s joined us. We’ll see you. We are all now meeting proptech panels are scheduled for the last Tuesday of every month, and we’ve got some great topics coming up. They’re all going up this month on the Proptech association website. They’re free to join, so look forward to seeing you at the next one. And we will be sharing this video on the stone and Chalk YouTube channel and then also with transcripts on the Proptech association website. So thanks so much, everybody. See you next month.