GLOBAL tech leader Microsoft and five-year-old HomeSpace360 have struck a partnership that is taking to the next level — and re-inventing — the way people view real estate.

With the partnership leveraging the American company’s Microsoft Azure cloud platform and a HomeSpace360 tech solution, “a revolutionary mobile app” for property marketers, all one has to do is take 2D photographs of properties with a camera phone, say a building, a house, and their rooms and every nook and cranny.

HomeSpace 2Microsoft Philippines Director Eileen Ong. (EKU)

The “magic” of the app will render the photographs into 3D and, using virtual reality (VR) headset, prospective clients can view the 3D images like they are touring the property in person. Site visits may no longer be needed for prospective buyers.

Soon, it will be available in some selected foreign markets.

It’s another use of new tools as technology through digital transformation revolutionizes operations and other facets of businesses and organizations across all industries, such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine-learning (ML), blockchain, essentially changing the world as people know it.

It’s something that HomeSpace360 is proud of saying, “an always-on 24/7 Open House” as “buyers get a better sense of the home’s proportions and expectations.” All without taking the trouble of going on a site visit.

Directly using a smartphone, HomeSpace360 offers realtors and brokers an all-in-one mobile app for creating high-quality 8K 2D and 3D photographic and video experiences.

“Together with the HomeSpace360 Cloud, the end-to-end automated system offers property marketers a solution for quickly and inexpensively capturing, distributing, and visualizing properties in 2D and 3D on web, mobile and VR,” the two partners said.

They assured a low-cost alternative to a 3D camera for providing immersive virtual tours.

It is the first of its kind, said Simon Gemayel, founder and CEO of HomeSpace360.

HomeSpace 4HomeSpace360 CEO Simon Gemayel. (EKU)

For interested brokers or companies ready to get into the digital ways of doing real estate selling,  here  are the four subscription plans:

  • Pro Model — Php1,500 per month inclusive of 15 virtual tours (2D/3D)
  • Advanced Model — Php2,500 per month, up to 30 virtual tours (2D/3D)
  • Premium Model — P5,000 per month, maximum of 50 virtual tours (2D/3D)
  • Enterprise Model — Custom Pricing and carries more virtual tours (2D/3D

HomeSpace360 also provides for every subscription a Mobile VR Viewer, Battery-free smartphone Rotator for stable 360 degree spin, lightweight tripod with carrying bag, and HD Fish-eye lens for 360 degree capture.

Microsoft and HomeSpace360 executives unveiled the solution for the real estate industry on September 27 at Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City.

Eilen Ong, Microsoft Philippines director of Commercial Partners and Small Medium Corportate Business Units, and Gemayel, cited their partnership in a separate interview with SDN — Scitech and Digital News.

She emphasized the importance of nurturing the Microsoft Partner Network, of which HomeSpace360 is now a part.

“Front and center for Microsoft is our partner ecosystem. And even the digital transformation that we are going through, we have many different partners,” said Ong.

“Of most important to us is the competency that our partner can bring to be able to drive Microsoft technologies to help customers.”

Reason for choosing Microsoft

HomeSpace 1

Virtual Reality (VR) headset. (EKU)

“I met with other tech companies for this technology I have. I found Microsoft to be the most receptive and eager to listen,” said Gemayel.

“Most of these big (tech) companies (mentioning the names)…there are so many technologies (around). You walk in and when they say, ‘Wow,’ you are in good company.”

Gemayel said one of the companies he first approached even hinted at competing with the HomeSpace360 technology he developed as they said, “We are also developing the same technology, but you are ahead of us.”

Not so with Microsoft

“We are a Philippine-based company. (Microsoft) really looked at the technology. (They asked), ‘is it proprietary, is it scalable, is there a market for it. Let’s do it’,” Gemayel, recalling his meeting with the United States company.

“…Mobility is the key. When I designed this technology, in particular my focus was how do I make this amazing technology, 3D Virtual Tours, go mainstream,” he added.

Ong mentioned the four kinds of partners Microsoft has in its Partner Network with more than 800 members, both big and small companies.

She said what’s “most important to us is the competency that our partner can bring to be able to drive Microsoft technologies to help customers.”

“So, we have many different partnerships. We have what call ISPs like HomeSpace, and really what they bring is solutions like HomeSpace360 to customers. They run on our platform and they actually will be able to bring value to customers.”

The Microsoft executive said ISPs have global reach because they run on the cloud.  She noted this kind of partners are able to reach any country in the world just because of the technology that they use. So, that’s one tech partner that Microsoft works with.

Thought leaders

Ong said they also have partners who are thought leaders, “because in todays’ world you need to work with industry leaders because they understand what’s important in an industry, what are the trends and happenings in the industry and, therefore, they are able to help business re-imagine how they do business.”

What thought leaders do, she said, is help customers build a roadmap for their digital transformation and be able to identify what are the different types of solutions that they may need, like HomeSpace360.

Two other kinds of partners, she mentioned that Microsoft has are system integrators who are needed to build the solutions for the company, and piece things together using technologies; there is also what “we call the managed-services partners and this kind of partners work with customers to help with the continuity in providing the support that they need because lots of companies want to focus on their core competency. So, they just wanna do the business right.

Gemayel said they soft-launched HomeSpace360 in August and so far they have received good feedback, with some technology issues but none that could not be addressed.

Four years, US$4.8 million

He recalled that the worked on the Virtual Tour app for four years, at a cost of around US$4.8 million and, on the fifth year soft-launched the real estate marketing solution.

“So, my approach is, ‘how do i democratize this, without making them buy a 3D phone or a 3D camera. I realized that the smartphone is the only device (needed to do it,” Gemayel narrated.

“So, here is our technology that extracts 3D data from a 2D data and 2D information. That’s how I’ve gone about this technology,” he said.

The HomeSpace360 CEO said they have applied many patents out of the technology, some approved and some still pending as grant of patents takes years.

“As you can see, it’s the only app that creates 3D virtual tours instantly. User-friendly, no need to be tech-savvy,” the assured.

Gemayel said “the technology was designed to work that one would use her or his phone in 2D. So, our goal is, you as a broker knows how to take pictures with your phone, you can do virtul tours.”

The solution they came up with does not require training, any rendering, taking multiple shots and assembling them.

If one knows how to capture photographs, he said the software will do everything.

Difference with related applications

“That’s really how we are different from everyone. Even those with 3D camera, because with a 3D camera, you take pictures, there’s still a lot to be done, such as editing, so many things. You need to be tech-savvy.

“But in our solution, you just take 2D pictures and before you know it, it’s in 2D and 3D,” he added.

With the solution, he said buyers can have a virtual walk-through in any part of the property, very powerful and engaging experience.

Future of property marketing

Gemayel said he designed the technology with the present and the future in mind, though it is still Stage 1. “We wanna move ahead, but not too far ahead, we don’t want to intimidate the customers.”

“I believe it is the future of property marketing. Today, we live in a digital age. We live in an on-demand economy. We want things fast. We are no longer impressed by CGI graphics. 3D is the next revolution.”

He said HomeSpace360 is looking to expand to other markets, some of them like Australia, Singapore, China, United States, and United Kingdom in the near future.

Microsoft has assured support for the expansion. (EKU)