By Meghan Hall
There are many virtual reality platforms breaking into the commercial real estate tech market in an effort to streamline the design and construction process. Now, wec360, a Scandinavian architectural visualization firm, has created a platform that does not just include virtual reality, augmented reality, giving customers an even more in-depth understanding of commercial build-outs. The Registry spoke with Mattias von Corswant, founder of wec360, to learn about the platform and the company’s plans for expansion into the U.S. market.
As tech pioneers, when did the founders of wec360 first realize the benefits of applying both augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to the real estate industry?
We have been developing cutting-edge technology for the construction and real estate industry from day one. Early on, we saw how to adapt VR and AR to our customers’ needs. It was a perfect match, really; immersive visualization lets people experience buildings and inside apartments before they physically exist. And, we could implement it in all our projects in no time. While VR was more or less self-explanatory from start, that was not quite the case with AR. Actually, it wasn’t until the mobile game Pokémon Go was released that the demands of our AR exploded. People suddenly realized that their mobile cameras could be used to something other than shooting selfies…
Can you tell The Registry a little bit about the nuances of AR and VR technologies? Why is it significant that wec360 uses both together?
AR is an easy and accessible way of getting a good understanding of really complex things, such as development projects. Being able to project an entire city, an area or a single building directly on your breakfast table in 3D, allows you to freely study it from the comfort of your home. While our AR is all about overview, our VR provides an immersive experience that is really compelling. You get inside, close to the materials and get a much better understanding of the interiors and the atmosphere than static images. Combining VR and AR in our platform, we can guide a future tenant or buyer all the way through the buying process – from the understanding of the whole to insight about the details.
Wec360 is just beginning to break into the United States real estate market. How does the U.S. real estate market compare to those in Europe?
It is in many ways similar, and we address the same universal needs as in Europe: people want to know and understand what they are buying, and real estate developers want to sell/rent quickly to minimize risk, save time and money. Breaking into a new market is always challenging, but the U.S. market has welcomed us with open arms, and we’ve had a great start. Our platform became standard in Scandinavia rather quickly, and looking at consumer patterns and demands from the American public, we believe in a similar impact here.
Have you found that the platform’s application to U.S. real estate has changed slightly given that wec360 is now in a different market? Why or why not?
Yes, we have had to modify it some, but not much. In Scandinavia where it’s really dark half of the year, the balcony’s position in relation to the sunlight for the rest of the year is extremely important for buyers. Some of our platform was focused on this. In the southern United States, we do not see that need as clearly, for example, and we have modified our platform accordingly. We have developed the platform in-house, with the flexibility to adjust to new markets and needs, so that was expected and pretty easily done. And, of course the data services relevant to the industry are different from country to country.
Can you explain how the platform works?
The platform combines project data with stunning 3D graphics and keeps it all in one place. It filters all sorts of data concerning availability, size, sunlight, rents, etc., and streams it into our visual illustrations. This means people can experience a future apartment in VR, for example, and enjoy it fully furnished and with authentic outside view. And in the next second also swipe away the furniture to make room for all the dimensions and other relevant data of the apartment – all in the realistic and interactive 3D view. The visuals combined with data allow developers or brokers to fully present buildings and apartments, and for the users to easily get an overview and understanding of the details and be inspired by its possibilities.
On average, how much time and money has wec360 saved its clients? By how much can the platform mitigate risk?
We help our clients to sell or rent out their apartments really quickly — in some cases, even years before they are built. By doing so, developers can shorten the development timeframe by securing buyers before construction begins. By selling early, capital and investments also are secured early, and construction projects can be initiated in time and with far less risk. The exact amount of time or money saved, or mitigation of risk is dependent on the project, the location, the rents or price levels and lots of other factors.
As the usage of AR and VR becomes more commonplace in the real estate industry, how does wec360 plan to work to differentiate its product from others coming to market?
We have a horizontal approach to the real estate market, solving a wide variety of needs with one single platform. The dynamics and width of our platform is our main advantage today, and our ambition is to remain in that pole position. We’re doing all tech development in-house, which enables us to move fast. Working really close to some of the real estate industry’s largest players gives us excellent insights regarding future building projects and requirements, so that we can adjust to it in time.
Also, our closeness to customers have taught us to smoothly adapt and connect our work processes to the industry’s. It may sound less exciting than the tech-aspect, but to really succeed in the real estate industry, smooth workflows are essential.
Wec360 is planning to kick-off its U.S. e/xpansion in New York. Why did wec360 choose NYC as its first home base in the United States
Many of our clients have their headquarters located in NYC, making it a good place to start building long term-relations. It is also an interesting market with many signature residential and commercial real estate projects. Though, it’s worth noting, our U.S. expansion is not exclusive to NYC. We also have sales offices in Florida and Texas, both of which offer excellent growth opportunities.
What are wec360’s plans for expansion in the future?
At the moment we’re fully focused and devoted to the U.S. market, aiming for the same impact we’ve had in Scandinavia, creating a standard. Parallel to that, we’re pushing hard to develop our real estate and construction marketing platform available to any company who wants to better visualize building projects they wish to market. In making our platform available as a software-as-a-service (SaaS), we expect wec360 to become the industry standard. With large momentum, we have already gone beyond NYC by establishing also in two more super exciting markets: Miami and Dallas.