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Buying a condo? Make a trip to the virtual reality showsuite | Singapore Property

Keppel Land is launching another 30-40 Highline Residences units this weekend, along with the high-tech viewing

By Lee

Lee Hon Kit, MD of visualisation firm VMW Group (standing), demonstrating how to use the Oculus Rift headgear to view the virtual reality showsuites of Highline Residences in Tiong Bahru.


Oct 14, 20165:50 AM


SWIVEL your chair, and you turn away from the bedroom window with its view of the Singapore Flyer to the bedroom interior. You can't feel the laminate board of the wardrobe or marble on the floor, but you can make out the texture of these surfaces from the resolution of the visuals.

This is the virtual reality showsuite of Highline Residences at Kim Tian Road in Tiong Bahru, which is available for visitors to experience from this weekend.

Highline Residences, which has done exceptionally well despite the subdued property market this year, selling about 88 per cent of the 320 launched units as at end-September, is launching another 30-40 three and four-bedroom units this weekend.

These units are going for an average S$1,900 per square foot. Three-bedders start from S$1.55 million, while four-bedders start from S$2.23 million.

In an interview, Albert Foo, general manager of marketing at Keppel Land, said that the benefits of virtual reality (VR) showsuites are manifold. For one thing, they cost less to "build" and can be completed more quickly. For another, they also take up less space and are portable - even overseas for roadshows.

For Highline Residences, the VR showsuites were completed in two months, compared to the 5-6 months that building the physical showsuites would have required, along with the hassle of obtaining approvals from the authorities for the temporary leasing of the show gallery site.

And although the VR showsuites cost a six-figure sum to build, erecting two physical suites would have cost the developer S$600,000 to S$1 million. The cost savings from using technology is a significant six figures, said Mr Foo, declining to be more specific with the numbers.

This does not render physical show units obsolete, however, because buyers still like to touch and feel the quality of interior finishes and fittings, he said. "You can never replicate that - which is why we are not looking at these virtual reality showsuites supplanting or replacing physical ones."

What it means, however, is that Keppel Land may consider having showsuites for just a few apartment configurations in its future show galleries. Since a development could have units in up to a dozen different configurations, VR could take care of the rest of the apartment types.

The 360-degree immersive VR showsuites were done in collaboration with visualisation firm and Keppel Land's longtime partner VMW Group using the Oculus Rift technology. Previously, both partners also worked on projects such as Caribbean, Reflections and Corals at Keppel Bay. VMW did the computer- rendered architectural perspectives and interactive displays for these projects.

Mr Foo let on that Keppel Land has been studying the possible use of augmented and virtual reality for some years, and had received proposals from technology companies, but it had felt that the technology was not yet mature, and that the rendering and delivery were not realistic enough, sometimes resembling more of a video game.

"Earlier this year, VMW showed us the latest in the rendering that they were doing, and we felt that it had finally come to a level of quality that would provide that level of realism such that someone who experiences it would have a hard time telling whether it's taken from an actual scene or rendered by computer."

For the visuals in Highline Residences' VR showsuites, they are completely computer-rendered, differing from some other players in the market who may take 360-degree videos or photographs of their physical showsuites and transfer them to VR gears for potential buyers to view, Mr Foo said.

Each VR showsuite has been created to perfectly reflect the actual size of the unit, and is further integrated with the unit plan overlay for orientation and navigation. Future iterations may allow users to change materials and fittings according to their preference.

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