Augmented & Virtual Reality

With new ways to look at the world come new ways of working

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) combine hard and software technologies in order to change the human visual perception of the world.

AR combines the real vision of the world integrated with computer generated augmentations imposed on that real-world environment. VR on the other hand delivers a completely computer generated (seemingly 3D) environment for the user, which can be interacted with in a variety of ways.

Both AR and VR require appropriate hardware in order to perform, although there are increasing numbers of applications for AR on consumer devices like the smart phones and tablets.

Benefits of using AR/VR

  • Enhanced end-user experience: Tailoring personal experiences of any given environment through overlaying digital information onto the real world. 
  • More efficient upkeep of asset facilities and equipment: Particularly in specialised or critical environments, AR can radically reduce the time taken to maintain equipment.
  • More efficient and productive design and fit-out process: AR and VR can help visualise the design process, cutting down the time and improving the precision with which an otherwise manual process is done.
  • More efficient leasing process for occupiers: Visualising multiple spaces in a much shorter period of time all through the use of VR.
  • More efficient logistics facilities operation: Through AR, the work of logistics employees in warehouses can be much more precise, as they are guided around assets to the correct product picking point.

How AR/VR enhances productivity

AR can make the design process of assets, workspaces, retail floors and logistics floors more effective. Overlaying the proposed fit-out options both in terms of aesthetics and dimensions on the real-world asset enables a quicker and more customisable fit-out. For example, this is something that IKEA are already enabling on a mass scale for consumers choosing furniture for their homes.

How AR/VR enhances efficiency

AR and VR can enable a more efficient leasing process for occupiers. Through AR, occupiers can understand how their new space might look as they conduct viewings of potential new spaces. Through VR, occupiers could visualise multiple assets in multiple geographies, all from one location. This improves the initial stages of the leasing process through making more accurate choices over a quicker period.

AR can make the repair and maintenance of equipment within assets far more efficient, reducing costs and time spent on a currently very specialised and manual process.

How AR/VR enhances experience

The use of AR can radically enhance the employee and consumer experience through wayfinding apps. They can enable more efficient journeys for employees in the workplace and more dynamic experiences in a retail context. For example, American Airlines have been piloting a wayfinding app in airports that not only directs passengers through security to their gate with pinpoint accuracy, but also shows them data about the retail offer on their way.

AR will inevitably be used more in a retail context as the consumer journey becomes increasingly digitalised. The key here is that existing smart phone technology can serve as the AR device, therefore the reducing the cost from the retailer’s point of view of developing the software to deliver the experience.

Richard Waterstone from Cyberselves explains the transformative power of Virtual Reality to make places accessible and the potential uses of telepresence robotics in the real estate industry. And an Ohbot explains its job!

Cyberselves is an AHRC-funded project whose mission is to bring the social issues of new technologies such as robotic and AI to the public.

Case study: DHL

  • Objective: Improve the efficiency and accuracy of product picking in logistics warehouses. 
  • What they did: Piloted the use of AR technology in logistics warehouses, arming pickers with smart glasses that direct them to the right products quicker, make fewer errors and free up both arms to fulfil more customer orders. 
  • Outcome: Across pilots in Netherlands, 15% increase in picking productivity and 50% reduction in training process. DHL are now rolling out the programme globally.

What you need to consider

  • Prioritise deployment of AR over VR: It’s easier and cheaper to scale, and arguably more effective! In the grand scheme of things, VR is probably a bit further away than AR on the impact timeline. AR can also be implemented easier as it can be retrofitted to existing devices, for example through using software on mobile phones. This immediately aids its scalability. Also, given the fact that there is no compromise for physically experiencing the built environment, overlaying virtual images rather than creating completely virtual images, seems a more powerful application of the technology. 
  • AR and VR can easily be rendered as gimmicks unless the proper use case can be proven: Make sure that investment cases are rigorous and can scale across assets and geography. The application of AR and VR can drive superior value, but there is a risk that used in isolation to prove very specific outcomes, the sustainable value of these technologies will be lost.

Find out more - contact usTo find out CBRE can help you identify Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality opportunities, contact CBRE's James Pearson – or call +44 7880 054 252