Opportunities for applying VR and AR in social housing today!

Use of VR and AR in Housing

Recently, we’ve been speaking to several housing associations about the opportunities presented by augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

From these discussions I have come to some conclusions about how ‘ready’ t#ukhousing is for VR and AR. I’ve also learned how strong, or otherwise, the current business case is for housing associations to take VR and AR seriously.

These conclusions are:

  • Wide adoption of VR and AR within the sector is still a long way off. We’re currently at the stage of piloting and testing on a smaller scale. A requirement at this stage is to find solutions that are relatively low cost. They should also have minimal barriers to entry. They also have to present a fairly low level of risk;
  • The business case needs to be rock solid. VR and AR are both technologies that are at risk of slipping into the ‘nice to have’ or ‘tech for tech sake’ category. This is leading to a perception of novelty over practical value; and
  • We need to think beyond current sector processes and norms when we consider how we might apply VR and AR.

This led me to develop the following list which sets out three applications that I would consider are immediate opportunities for those interested in experimenting with VR and AR within the social housing sector.

Augmented Reality for Remote Repairs Support

mage: www.kingdomhousing.org.uk

Recently, Kingdom Housing Association worked with XM Reality to deliver an AR solution. This solution allows a trades operative to be virtually present in a tenant’s home. They can then see the issue in real time using video technology on a mobile phone or tablet. This enables them to offer support and advice by having their hand superimposed on the scene in the tenant’s home.

More information about how this approach can deliver real business and customer benefits can be found at Kingdom Uses Augmented Reality Technology – Kingdom Housing | Kingdom HA, Fife

360 Property Tours with Matterport

For free (or for advanced features as little as £7.99 a month) with Matterport, you can capture a space in 3D with your smartphone and provide your staff and customers with 360 property tours. Imagine if senior stakeholders could review the condition of a void property virtually while in the office. Or, if you could conduct desktop tours of multiple properties with an applicant, before progressing to an in-person site visit.

Immersive Experiences

Image: www.carechoices.co.uk

Beyond the two more obvious applications above, there is now a wealth of VR content available for free online. You can buy a decent VR headset for around £50 and pair it with a smartphone. This could be used for a wide range of things, including to put staff in the shoes of someone with dementia, for engaging customers in education & learning, or as an immersive therapy option. Or, in housing, to do a virtual viewing!

There is more out there, go and see!

The list above is by no means exhaustive. But, part of our role is to prompt ideas and discover new ways of applying technology to deliver benefits together. I hope we can use it to generate more use cases to add weight to the VR and AR business case for social housing. If you need some help with that, we’re more than happy to have a chat and introduce you to our network!