OHVR: Our MVP of virtual reality for real estate is ready for testing

We just finished scanning our fourth property for the second MVP of OpenHouse VR. It was a beautiful one-bedroom condo in the heart of West Hollywood.

This is an exciting milestone as we'll have an app available for Android and Apple in the next few days. Sign up for our newsletter and we'll let you know as soon as it's ready.

Are you a realtor? Email us at info@htmlfusion.com if you'd like to help us test the app.

Me at the last OHVR shoot in West Hollywood. I'm using the new ThetaS camera.

The first OHVR was a fully hardcoded virtual visit of just one house. While small and not without its problems, we received very positive feedback. The first iteration validated its value in the real estate market. With this second MVP, our goal is to validate the full cycle of our product.

The big question: Will homebuyers see value in using virtual reality headset to visit properties?

Two big improvements

This version addresses two of the most common issues we faced with the first MVP of OHVR: orientation and picture quality.

When the beta users first took OHVR for a test drive, they felt disoriented when moving from room to room. They had a hard time knowing where they came from when entering a room.

We made two key orientation improvements: First, we kept the orientation consistent. If your headset is pointing northwest when you enter the next room, you'll now face northwest.

Next, we included more pictures -- one for each intersection -- to always position the user in front of doorways that will keep the direction logical.

A panoramic view of the kitchen.

As for picture quality, we improved that significantly, first by doubling the resolution with the new ThetaS, then by using manual settings to reduce the noise in the pictures with long exposure.

Finally, we started using HDR, which produces five snapshots of every room. Capturing a larger range of data allows us to adjust the exposure of the photos afterwards. Then we define a look for the photos.

Our concern with HDR is that it may feel less realistic. This is an assumption we will be able to validate very soon as we finish processing the new property.

The most important improvement from the first iteration to our new release is that it's now possible to load multiple properties. Each location will have a unique code that agents and buyers can access by entering into a keypad at the start menu.

Really nice balcony.

New branded cardboards

With this new iteration we've also released our own virtual reality viewer, compatible with Google Cardboard.

OpenHouse Virtual Reality Viewer

The viewers have a capacitive button, making the "touch" 100% effective -- this is a big improvement on the original Google Cardboard, where we experienced several issues with the trigger magnet which serves as an action button.

With this headset you can also adjust the eye separation, making it more comfortable to view and feel immersed.

Up next

We're excited. With our latest MVP, OpenHouse VR will soon be accessible to anyone with a smartphone and a Google Cardboard.

We're working on the headset next and onboarding more real estate agents as part of our early adopter program. Get in touch with us if you'd like to be part of our initial user base.

If you're in LA, we'll be demoing the MVP of OHVR on Jan. 16 at the Creative Technology Center. I'll also be giving a talk about the convergence of VR, AI and the Internet of Things.

RSVP here (make sure to sign up because the event is expected to reach capacity).