​Aussie property hunters to get virtual

House hunters will soon be able to explore potential properties from their lounge via a virtual reality app from realestate.com.au.

Australian property site realestate.com.au has announced the impending launch of realestate VR, a virtual reality (VR) property app for Android mobile devices.

The upcoming app comes after the property website, in partnership with property agent Ray White Real Estate, trialled augmented reality and found that property seekers in Australia were eager to utilise new technologies.

Nigel Dalton, chief information officer at REA Group, the parent company of realestate.com.au, said the trials in augmented reality were well received by both customers and consumers, and commented that VR is the logical next step.

"As technology continues to evolve, we know that consumers are wanting to try new and innovative products that push the boundaries. While virtual reality is not a new innovation and we've been trialling and testing its functionality for some time now, we're excited to be soon offering a scalable product for Australians to explore," Dalton said in a statement.

"All you need to do is look at the runaway success of the Pokémon Go app to realise how in-demand new technology is. We're confident that both augmented reality and virtual reality will become increasingly useful tools for property seekers when looking for their next home."

Swedish retail giant IKEA took the leap into the world of VR earlier this year, launching its Virtual Reality Kitchen, IKEA VR Experience, in a bid to transform the way people shop.

Released on Valve's game distribution platform Steam in partnership with HTC, the pilot allows customers to try new kitchen solutions before purchasing.

"Australians are known for embracing the latest technology and innovations, so virtual reality has the potential to transform the way people interact with our products in the home," Tim Prevade, range manager for IKEA Australia, said. "We look forward to hearing our customers' feedback on the experience as we continue to explore this space in the future."

In March, Telsyte predicted the popularity of VR in Australia to accelerate this year, and the sale of 110,000 units in 2016 to kick off annual growth of more than 500,000 headsets per annum by 2020, with video game enthusiasts expected to lead the trend.

"Strong market growth will come in 2017 and 2018 as manufacturers ramp up production and more 'must have' use cases emerge," Telsyte managing director Foad Fadaghi said at the time. "The strongest pent-up demand is coming from gamers, who clearly see VR as the next frontier in immersive entertainment."

With the VR industry currently enjoying 800 percent year-over-year job growth, online education company Udacity announced a new nanodegree program for aspiring developers in the field of VR, partnering last month with Google, HTC Vive, and Upload to create a curriculum that will teach students how to build immersive experiences with both VR hardware and software.

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