Faces of Technology: Pioneer Develops Real Estate Tech for the Real World
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“If the software and tools we need don’t exist, we write new software and create new tools.”
This is the philosophy of Sarasota’s Hoyt Architects, which established its Hoyt Architecture Lab (HAL) design studio for the research and development of virtual reality, 3-D visualization and interactive applications for real estate development and urban design.
In 2016, the company IMERZA spun out of HAL as an independent venture. IMERZA applies virtual reality and other bleeding edge technology to help potential buyers visualize and learn about properties for sale, while enabling real estate sales and leasing centers to more easily showcase their properties. Using a head-mounted display, customers can explore the interior floor plans and exterior façade of their next home or business location as if they were on-site. And, through continuous development of applied artificial intelligence analytics, IMERZA can incorporate site-specific factors like vehicle and pedestrian traffic, time of day and weather simulations, allowing its clients to experience, monitor and analyze a full experiential environment in real time.
“There hasn’t been a single client we’ve worked with who hasn’t been absolutely impressed and amazed at what we can do for them – both in the visual sense and by how it’s transformed their business,” said Dorian Vee, co-founder and CTO for IMERZA, which experienced a three-times sales increase last year alone.
In addition to the core technologies, Dorian and his team developed a unique application programming interface to help users overcome the “fear factor” associated with use of a new technology like virtual reality. During presentations with their clients, real estate and leasing professionals can control the platform from their mobile phone or tablet – handheld devices they’re already comfortable using – rather than a foreign controller or similar hardware required to operate many virtual reality platforms.
The software began as an exploratory tool, but masterminds behind IMERZA quickly realized they were on to something when clients started using it to sell multimillion-dollar homes. In just three years, IMERZA has grown tremendously to now serve residential and retail clients in every major U.S. market, including several in Florida. The company recently expanded to Canada and is now working on projects in Singapore, Japan, Saudi Arabia and more. According to Dorian, IMERZA’s staggering success can be attributed to the technology’s capability to guide real estate developers through the design process from start to sale.
“When we are talking to potential clients now, we suggest that they bring us in on Day One and use the toolset and the platform for their design decisions, improvements, entitlements – the whole process,” Dorian explained. “Doing so not only reduces costs in the design phases by saving time and resources, but it also significantly reduces marketing costs because of the ability for us to generate almost unlimited marketing assets from the technology.”
This innovative approach stems largely from Dorian’s background, which combines formal education in computer animation and architecture. Dorian equates the tools used in his early days of architecture to those of cavemen. So, true to the company’s philosophy, he pioneered a new way. “We started using what I learned in film and game production, iterated on those ideas and applied that to our work at Hoyt Architects. Ultimately, we turned those innovations into two thriving new businesses.”