Asaf Engel, owner and CEO of 3-Dig marketing techn.
(photo credit: Ron Friedman)
Construction on Gindi Investment's new luxury
apartment complex in Ramat Aviv is only scheduled to be completed in
2012, but with the aid of a first of its kind three-dimensional
interactive imaging system, interested buyers can already see, walk
through and make alterations to their potential home.
"Think of it as a first-person-shooter video
game, only instead of killing zombies and monsters, you use the
technology to help visualize and design, your new home," says Asaf
Engel, owner and CEO of 3-Dig marketing technologies, the company that
designed the first interactive simulator for the real estate industry.
Gindi's sales center in Ramat Aviv features a coffee bar,
chandeliers and water fountains, but the most eye catching feature, is
the state of the art screening room, where sales executives give
potential buyers virtual tours of the apartments, lofts and penthouse
suites that are currently for sale.
The multimedia room is dark and cool. A large screen that takes
up a whole wall dominates the room. When senior project manager, Mordi
Shabat, starts up the program, the room becomes illuminated by images
of the yet to be constructed luxury towers projected on the screen.
After a brief virtual elevator ride to the proper floor, the door opens
to a life-sized three-dimensional simulation of the apartment. Shabat
reaches for a joystick sitting on the table. As he pushes it forward,
on the screen, it appears as if you've walked a few steps forward.
"We call it the interactive simulator, it's been running for the last three weeks," said Shabat.
The images are crystal clear. As you "walk" through the room,
light reflections on the floor and surfaces changes accordingly. With
the aid of the easy to use joystick, potential buyers can move about
the rooms, view the apartments from any angle they choose and even make
alterations to the design. By pressing a button on the controller the
operator can switch between different flooring patterns, change the
colors of the doors and doorframes or lower or raise the height of the
ceiling. Another button shows you an overhead floor plan, indicating
the user's location within the room.
Shabat said that Gindi prefers the use of the
interactive simulator over sample apartments, as is common in most
other projects, because it offers more flexibility and variety. "With a
real apartment you only get to see one version, with this program, we
can show people many different types of units and modify the look of
the apartment according to the client's tastes. Also, with a virtual
apartment, there's no wear and tear."
The current system is a pilot project and shows only three of
the 17 available apartment options. Customers get to take a compact
disk with a movie of their virtual tour home with them. Though the disk
doesn't include all the interactive features, clients can show the
video to family and friends and get a real feeling for where they plan
"In this project we limited the program to suit the client's
requirements, but theoretically there is no limit to the possibilities
this tool can provide," said Engel. "Here we made it possible to alter
the floors and ceilings, but using our services, you can change
everything from the kitchen design to the paint on the walls to the
view outside the window."
"What this program gives you is the chance to turn the viewing
into an active process. Instead of passively sitting and watching a
video, you get to control where you go and what you look at and you can
always go back and look again if you want to. We find that this grabs
the potential buyer's attention to longer periods of time. A movie will
hold your interest for a minute or two, but with this, they can play
for hours," said Engel.
According to Engel, the program used to design and operate the
interactive simulator is a novel marriage of two worlds, a graphic
engine from the world of computer games and the architectural spaces of
the real estate world.
The process of programming the interactive simulator took 3-Dig
three months to complete, starting from when they received the naked
architectural designs from the architects. Slowly, programmers started
adding the design elements like furniture, artwork, textures and
lighting, all of which change depending on your location in the
apartment. This work is done by a group of talented programmers who
combine special computer skills with artistic creativity and an eye for
detail. In later stages the interactive elements are added as well as
sounds and the whole thing goes through a three-day rendering process
on powerful computers.
Engel, who opened his company four years ago, said that the use
of three-dimensional imaging in the real estate sector has changed
dramatically over the last few years. From a tool used mainly by a
handful of innovative architects to help them visualize a structure
before it's built only half a decade ago, until nowadays when no
company goes without high-resolution three-dimensional photos and
videos of their properties, to show off to their potential clients. For
him, the interactive element is the natural next step. "We pitched this
idea to real estate companies two years ago, only now the market is
responding," said Engel. "As far as we can tell, this project is the
first in the world to combine gaming technology with real estate
marketing. We believe the potential is huge."
Engel said that since completing the project for Gindi, he has
received requests for similar programs from other real-estate companies
both in Israel and abroad. "Something like this is too good to keep
quiet for long. I'm guessing, you'll start seeing more and more of this
in the future."
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>