JLL Pioneers New VR Office Selection Tool
Emily Pollock posted on April 11, 2018 |
JLL’s immersive VR system is designed to make the office selection process easier for clients.
JLL’s new “virtual office” is designed to make the office selection process easier for clients. (Image courtesy of JLL.)
JLL’s new “virtual office” is designed to make the office selection process easier for clients. (Image courtesy of JLL.)

A commercial real estate business has developed an immersive system to help companies "test-drive" new office spaces before making a decision about them.

Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated (JLL) specializes in helping clients find the appropriate office space for their businesses. NXT Office, developed by the company’s subsidiary Tetris, lets clients virtually "experience" what it's like to work in a given space and easily pull up relevant information about the building. According to chief operating officer Richard Howling, the appeal of NXT Office lies in its use of "the latest technologies combined with exclusive data sets."

The NXT Office studio, which is housed in JLL's London headquarters, boasts nine connected screens located around the room. Infrared sensors allow users to move information freely on and between screens by gesturing at them. The integrated system enables users to "move" between potential locations easily, allowing side-by-side comparisons of different office spaces. The office is also connected to exclusive databases with information about the buildings and their surroundings, including social and economic insights. 

According to JLL's website, the ability to conveniently compare office workspaces makes the selection process up to 85 percent faster. "The time involved in moving from long-list to short-list will be cut dramatically as occupiers will have detailed access to available properties, of which they will be able to enjoy a guided virtual tour supported by pioneering technology," said Neil Prime, head of JLL's Central London offices.

Although JLL claims that NXT Office represents an industry first for its "seamless functionality," it’s far from the first company to use augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) in the real estate field. Matterport technology allows online real estate listings to include a 3D walk-through, roOomy lets potential customers virtually "decorate" rooms in their own style using an online catalog of furniture, and Virtual Xperience enables VR headset users to perform a walk-through in buildings that are still under construction. Recently, Sotheby’s International Realty partnered with roOomy to make Curate, a Google Play app that allows customers to place and size furniture that they can later buy through connected retailers.

But the expense of creating VR tours means that the technology has faced slow uptake in the field of residential real estate, where the cost of creating immersive experiences makes VR tours prohibitive for real estate sales of single-family homes. Bob Faulkner, owner of Vancouver's Metropolitan Fine Printers, told The Financial Post last year that developing a VR tour costs between $50,000 and $150,000. “The cost just doesn’t make sense—it has to be a big enough development,” said Faulkner. “And it really has to be a realistic experience.”

Commercial real estate, because of its larger scale and higher property values, may be more receptive to VR. JLL’s development of NXT Office is one of the first forays into the world of immersive commercial real estate, one that JJL’s Prime hopes will "completely transform the process of selecting new office space for clients."

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