“Walk around your building before it’s even built”
The company aims to raise awareness of the opportunities of virtual reality in real estate. CEO & Founder Benoit De Schryver has always been passionate about technology and virtual reality (VR). Even if still relatively unknown for years now, it is expected to find a more prolific use in the future. After a year of the pandemic, Benoit De Schryver focused on new developments and now brings them on the market to attract a new audience.
Tell us about VirtualWalk.
“VirtualWalk is active in virtual reality (VR) technologies. We create virtual interactive tours of future buildings and places and we advise companies on VR equipment for their needs.”
“In that way, we are different from conventional imagery studios, offering a full service. As we have strong experience in hardware and software, but also architecture workflows, we act as a technology provider for our clients.”
“Our clients don’t just order nice-looking interactive virtual visits; we work with them to integrate us into their workflow, which leads to VR experiences with minimal effort… and minimal budget!”
How did you come up with the idea for the business?
“I am passionate about technology and VR is just absolutely mind-blowing (I truly mean it!). The first time I tried it, back in 2013, I immediately understood that this is the next way of working for architecture.“
What’s a typical workday like for you?
“I’m managing VirtualWalk, so my day is always different from the day before: there is no “typical” day.”
“One day, I am on the road meeting clients, for demos, and explaining how VR can help their business and improve their work. Other days, I would be in the office, reviewing 3D drawings we have made out of simple PDF documents we have received. Or I would be busy checking projects almost out of production to get shiny, nice, visuals while answering customer calls on projects reviews. I could also be finishing offers for VR equipment or new 3D virtual visits; or checking out the latest in VR hardware and the proptech market. And the next day I would be supervising the tasks of the people who work with me and make sure that the finances are on track… 24 hours in a day are not enough!”
How has the field of virtual reality evolved in recent years, and what changes do you hope to see in the future?
“For centuries, people have drawn maps to illustrate what they had in mind. Then computers came along, and drawing on screen made things much easier. Then 3D drawing software came up, which allowed perspectives. Recently, 3D imagery has become the norm together with photorealistic 3D images.”
“All these things serve one purpose: to make people understand what someone has designed and wants to build.”
“But what if you could go even further and take people with you inside your full-scale drawings so they could experience it as if the project was already built? That’s what VR makes true and it’s a revolution!“
“The technology is here and hardware works definitely well enough to serve its purpose. The main challenge now is to integrate VR software into architects and real estate workflows.”
“Nowadays companies like ours are needed to integrate building data into VR. I am convinced that one day, interactive virtual visits will be played by pressing a single button.”
“But don’t worry, when that day comes, we will be one step ahead delivering even better experiences and technology!”
“For centuries people have drawn maps to illustrate what they had in mind. Then the computers came along and drew more precise representations. And now there is virtual reality. It allows people to accurately show plans and ideas, down to the smallest detail. So this is the logical next step in a long series of maps and drawings – and it could be the last step. Of course, many inventions lie ahead, and VR is an exciting world that will only grow in the future. It can be even more perfected to meet all the expectations we might have.”
What are your biggest challenges?
“When I first started VR was something pretty new. But strangely enough, after more than 8 years in the business, the challenge remains the same. It’s still about convincing new clients and prospects for demos. Because most people don’t know what virtual reality really is, or have only limited insight into its possibilities. VR is still, in 2021, a niche technology. Strangely, only a few people have tried (good) VR. Although many suppliers (including Facebook!) have made the technology widely available, this is still seen as a niche technology.”
“So this is my main challenge. It’s about meeting people to show them how it works. Because explaining what it is by phone or email is just impossible…”
“VR is something to experience, to live. In most of my meetings, within seconds, people understand how powerful the tech is. But you have to get an appointment… “
What can you tell us about your plans for the next few years? Where would you like to see VirtualWalk in the future?
“We want to keep up with new technologies and always offer our clients the best hardware on the market with the best visuals inside.”
“Recently we switched all developments to wireless equipment. No more wires, no more PCs. Just simple lightweight powerful equipment. Our clients love it.”
“It is not just about providing the best equipment or the most appealing visuals: it is about offering the right solution for the right client and project.“
Thank you. Before we conclude, do you have anything else you would like to add?
“Try VR! Experience it! From us or others, it does not matter. This technology is a true revolution in real estate communication (from design to selling). Many of our clients wish they had known of VR earlier: it could be the same for you.”