Clients planning superyacht homes with virtual reality

International broker YPI is breaking new ground in the yachting industry by allowing prospective clients to see what it will be like to walk around a superyacht before it’s been built with VR.

With the huge investments being made and client satisfaction essential for recurring business revenues, the stakes are just as high in the luxury yachting business as with high-end homes.

The industry has often lagged behind other industries such as the automotive and travel business when it comes to technology innovation, but broker YPI is hoping to bring change to the yachting world by taking advantage of VR.

The company has collaborated with Bricks & Googles, a Dutch VR developer in a bid to boost business following a chance meeting at Monaco Yacht Show. The company’s co-founder approached YPI’s sales director Russell Crump at the event with Google Cardboard device, and has since worked together to create a 360-degree walk-through of a flagship vessel (watch above) in development at the company.

“I had been looking into virtual reality as a fully immersive way of promoting our 105 metre (344ft 5in) RAPTOR project for about a year,” Crump told 360 Magazine.

“I’d researched it with a firm of architects in London who had designed a Radisson hotel using VR, but they said a yacht would be too complex and expensive for them to develop. Ingmar was literally in the right place at the right time.”

The experience of its 105 metre superyacht is delivered to clients via the Oculus Rift, with renders produced by H2 Yacht Design, and software developed by Bricks & Goggles allowing prospective clients to experience everything on board in scale and zoom in on different textures of interior materials and even change them.

“We also went to great lengths to make the experience feel as natural as possible,” says Crump. “That means you can’t walk through walls or furniture, which happens with some gaming software. Then there’s the scaling and perspective, so we’ve based the programming on an average height of 1.75 metres (5ft 7in) to provide a realistic angle of view.

He continues: “You are effectively transported inside the yacht. You can walk through the lounges, explore the cabins, go on deck and take a helicopter fly-around.”

YPI state they expect VR walk-throughs of superyachts to significantly help their business, particularly in avoiding costly design changes later down the line after construction has begun and building life-size interior reconstructions for projects – as currently used in the industry.  

“Clients often have a hard time understanding from General Arrangements how interior and exterior spaces work, especially on a 100 metre-plus (328ft-plus) yacht. VR helps them to experience the sheer scale and circulation flow from one room to another, which is invaluable for a designer. In this sense, I see it as a useful tool in addition to the conventional renders, material samples and life-size mock-ups,” commented Jonny Horsfield of H2 Yacht Design.

YPI says it will focus on using Occulus Rift for newbuild and major refit projects for clients, in addition to its 360-degree photo tours.

Riva Yachts shipyard has also since confirmed they are considering building a specific “virtual reality room” at its facility.

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