November 13, 2006 Anyone who has ever spent the weekend driving in endless circles attending “open for inspection” realty will understand the appeal of the newly announced VuPOD Real Estate immersion room. With the VuPOD immersion room, home shoppers are “surrounded by a 360-degree image projected on the walls around them”, so they can quickly view numerous prospective homes and sort out those worth actually visiting, cutting out all the travel time. Announced this week, the VuPOD will be available for everyone to see some time next year but if it does what is claimed, it will be a fantastic tool for the cash-rich-time poor home buyer and a killer app for those realtors who invest in the technology. The publicity claims it is “nothing like the virtual tours on the market today” and it wouldn’t want to be because in the main, they don’t have sufficient resolution/detail to do the job. The success of this project will depend on the quality of the VR and the playback device and the price (to the realtor) and maybe, just maybe, they’ll get the price/convenience factor just right and have a massive hit.

We must admit to being quite bullish about the prospects of this one, because although we think that using a Trimersion HMD or almost any other HMD with something like the VirtuSphere would offer a more realistic immersive environment, the system appears to use eight hi-res rear projectors to achieve its realism and could be very good indeed - see image library. Similarly, we’re prepared to suspend disbelief despite some of the the claims having a distinctly over-the-top-salesspeak ring to them, such as VuPOD Co-Inventor Sean Lee’s statement, “Buyers can literally be teleported to prospective properties.” Unless there’s been a significant breakthrough we’re not aware of, that’s err … not true.

As the PR blurb says, “any home for sale can be imaged and viewed on the VuPOD, arming buyers with data such as floor plans, exposures, and 360 degree images of every liveable area.”

The VuPOD is the product of REdi, a Phoenix-based Research and Design company devoted to product development in the Real Estate industry. REdi will be releasing the VuPOD via Valley National Realty in Phoenix for market testing, with a national release to follow in early 2007. No details of the technologies to be used have yet been disclosed so we may be frightfully wrong – stay tuned.

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