Real estate and apartment management portal CommonFloor has introduced CommonFloor Retina, a virtual reality initiative to let users view listed real estate in 3D. The platform currently supports Android phones LG Nexus 4 and above, MotoG 2nd gen, Samsung Galaxy 4 and above, MotoX and the Xiaomi Mi3.
To use the platform, users have to make sure they have one of the aforementioned phones and download at least one of the CommonFloor Retina apps. Strangely, the company has chosen to release each property as a standalone app, which is tedious if you want to browse multiple properties. A better approach would be to have a single app download ‘building plans’ as and when requested by the user.
As for the viewing part, other than the phone and app, users will also need a virtual reality headset – a picture of which is displayed on CommonFLoor without any mention of how to acquire one. The website does encourage users to register to win a virtual reality headset though. Interestingly the headset CommonFloor displays is almost exactly the same as Google Cardboard, the difference being only the name printed on it. Note though that Google does encourage companies creating these, and even provides DIY instructions for users to create one at home.
While the initiative by CommonFloor is interesting, it fails at a few basic things. It provides no instructions or links for users to create a headset themselves or buy one. Additionally, no one wanting to browse properties to buy is going to download an individual app for each one. However, even on fixing both these issues, resolution on VR headsets are pretty limited, and we doubt properties will be visible with a level of detail greater than say browsing pictures in the browser and overall the move comes across as somewhat of a gimmick.
Real estate in 3D
Note that in July last year, real estate portal IndiaProperty.com had launched a 3D Virtual Property Tour feature. This allowed panoramic view of projects, and in case of ready-to-occupy projects actual static images of the property stitched together to create the virtual tour.
Housing.com had also launched a platform called Slice View which offered interactive exploration of the project, along with integrated booking options. This platform displayed 3D model of the building along with a list of its floors and let users view a detailed 3D flat view, complete with flat furnishings. Both these initiatives were overall far more impressive, as both are easily accessible to anyone and provide buyers with useful information.
– In January, CommonFloor raised undisclosed amount of investment from Google’s late stage growth fund Google Capital. This was CommonFloor’s third investment round in the past year, which included $30 million from Tiger Global in September last year and Rs 64 crore from Tiger Global and Accel India in January last year.
– CommonFloor also acqui-hired the Bangalore based messaging startup Bakfy for an undisclosed amount last month. The company had previously acquired student accommodation portal Flat.to to enter into the student and bachelor accommodation segment in April 2014.