How could virtual tours shape how different industries work in the future, including construction and real estate.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic many businesses across various industries have had to cease operations which has not only impacted the workers and business owners but also clients and investors who are now unable to see their products or services delivered.

However, the introduction of virtual tours, artificial intelligence and virtual/augmented reality is allowing some industries to progress, whilst adhering to social distancing measures established by the government, as people can now view ongoing projects from the safety of their own home.

This, however, begs the question, which industries are utilising this technology? And how could this shape the future of those industries?

Construction

The very nature of the construction industry means that social distancing is near impossible with a large number of people working on construction sites at any given moment.

However, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, and the social distancing rules that followed, construction sites have become barren and projects have grinded to a halt and construction companies have had to invest in more creative methods of ensuring that some operations continue.

Hence, thoughts have turned to the various types of technology that could be implemented to aid the survival of construction companies throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The potential major implementations surround virtual tours of building sites using a variety of technology such as drone recordings and virtual reality.

A drone is able to collect and monitor data in a more effective and efficient manner which not only aides in virtual tours but could also, according to a report by PwC, could save the UK construction industry over $4 billion by 2030.

Whilst drones are a viable option it is also possible to utilise virtual reality, especially in the construction industry in which visuals are an important part of the process.

Virtual reality will allow investors and clients to view full, 3D models of their buildings in a more immersive way than ever before allowing them to obtain a better understanding of the project as opposed to viewing 3D models on a screen or printed blueprints.

More importantly, for those constructing the project, virtual reality allows for a more in depth assessment of the design which allows potential challenges and concerns to be discovered quickly and resolved ahead of schedule.

Real Estate

Real estate relies on people meeting to view and sell properties, which has become impossible due to the social distancing and isolation rules currently in place.

Essential selling techniques like traditional open houses and daily viewings simply don’t meet the current guidelines and the Real estate industry may struggle because of this, however with the implementation of virtual tours and other technology, this all could change.

The importance of visuals to the real estate industry and property selling process means that virtual tours are a must and many estate agents now offer a video tour as standard even before the COVID-19 outbreak.

However, there are also opportunities with other areas of technology such as 360 degree video which allows buyers to view a household in virtual reality through a device, such as a mobile phone or laptop and many property sites such as Zoopla offer this feature as long as they have 360 degree videos of the property.

It is therefore likely that these implementations will remain in place after the COVID-19 pandemic is over and a rise in remote purchases could continue as people will likely remain weary after the outbreak is over.

However, whilst virtual tours are good practice given the current situation they are more suited to investors in the long term as they have no plans to live in a property themselves and will therefore be less inclined to visit a property before purchasing.

These buying habits will differ for a family looking for a home, for example, as most people who plan to live in a property will use all five senses to view their potential new home.

Ultimately, technology is going to have a large role in the coming months across multiple industries not just construction and retail and it is likely that virtual tours could be used in the travel and tourism industry as well as many others.

In fact tourism businesses in Venice are already considering using virtual tours due to the severe impact felt by the COVID-19 pandemic and could continue to do so for a long time as travellers become wary of travelling abroad.

This has the potential to change the way these industries operate as technology on this scale can often come with a large cost and will therefore be utilised more often rather than being used as a contingency plan should the worst case scenario occur.