Sterling Homes Virtual Tours
Sterling homes are one of South Australia’s leading builders. They have been building for over 40 years and in that time have won over 45 Housing Industry Association and Master Builders Associations awards, as well as building over 13,000 homes.
Sterling homes were looking for new ways to interact and engage with their customers and were looking for digital solutions to assist this process. Appliquette produced a Virtual Tour app that will allow users to take a 3D tour through a choice selection of home designs.
From courtyard homes to expansive two storeys you can now walk through Sterling homes room by room on your phone or tablet and experience the look and feel of some of their award winning designs.
Whether you’re checking out our design for the first time, or revisiting a display home that you loved, Sterling Homes Virtual Tours gives you access to all rooms, at all angles, anytime of the day.
There were three major challenges that came with the development of the app.
The first challenge was the content creation. To deliver a Virtual Tour, we had to produce high quality 360 Panoramic images for each room in each of the houses.
As the Show Homes had already been built we didn’t have access to any pre-rendered or 3d content, and needed to develop our own photography to produce the content. Each home has on average 12 rooms, some spanning across multiple floors.
The second challenge was around the best way to handle and feed the content into the app. As we will be rolling out new tour content over time, we didn’t want to have to update the app each time we needed to add new content as this will greatly bloat the timeline and cost to update.
Thirdly the brief required some form of interaction between the user and the current printed Catalogues, meaning we can engage the user with the brochure material they would receive from the show homes & sales floors.
The first step was to develop a flexible structure within the app that will allow for the Tour content to flow easily into the app. Getting this process correct means that we can greatly reduce the overall cost to update and add new content over the long term lifespan of the app.
Our resolution to handling content in real time was developing a cloud based methodology. This allowed us to upload new home content at any time into the cloud, and the app will check for content updates on load and download any new materials that had been added.
Without access to renders of the rooms, we visited each home with our Tripod and DSLR camera. Each room is made up of a minimum of 80 images stitched together in a circular panoramic to complete the full 360 view.
To handle the interactive element we integrated the device camera and cloud based image recognition. The user would find the home they want to view in the catalogue, open the app and point the camera at the display photo.
The image would be recognised via the cloud based image recognition and the app would then open the content relevant to that home. This method tied in well with our overall content delivery strategy as it meant we could add or change any of the image recognition content at any time via the cloud.
The Sterling Homes Virtual Tours app has enabled customers to engage and interact with Sterling Homes in new and interactive ways which were previously not available.
The virtual content also means that customers can gain far more insight into the homes and can get a real sense of the space, light and feel of the home which they could not gain from a printed photo.
The virtual content also means that Sterling can present a full range of catalogue content to customers, where previously they might be hamstrung by only having a fixed number of show homes that could be viewed at a period of time, and allowing decommissioned or older show homes to still be accessible by their customers.