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Virtual Reality Allows Developers to See Projects In 3D Before They're Built

Sunday, September 18, 2016

More from Dan Taekema

Published on: September 18, 2016 | Last Updated: September 18, 2016 7:56 PM EDT

A brand-new Windsor business allows potential homeowners to walk around their condo before it’s even built.

3DFX  is the brainchild of Michael Hoppe and Chris Jedlinski. It’s a virtual reality tool that can create three-dimensional architectural renderings that investors, developers and designers can take tours of and actually interact with.

“We ended up getting into video gameplay modes where you can move and even run through the condo,” said Hoppe. “But now we have the next step, which uses the Oculus and it’s just a completely different experience.

“We want people to be entertained and fully immersed in what their new life could be,” he added.

Both Hoppe and Jedlinski are in their 20s and graduates of the Architecture Technology program at St. Clair College. Their tool allows them to build 3D models of virtually anything, from single condo units to houses or hotels.

The models are complete down to the tiniest detail. Minuscule dust motes can even be added to float through the air and give rooms a realistic feel.

After spending months perfecting their project at the Downtown Windsor Business Accelerator, it officially launched last week.

“This is one of the companies that we feel is going to be strong,” said Siddique Sheikh, program manager at the accelerator. “It’s something that’s ahead of the curve, especially in this region.”

Throughout the afternoon industry professionals, potential customers and curious onlookers had an opportunity to take a tour of a condo unit created for the launch.

When Mary Porter pulled on a headset she said she was immediately transported into the virtual apartment. 

“This is incredible,” she said. “Oh my gosh, it’s just like I’m here.”

Porter praised the spotless condo for its lack of dust, was thrilled by realistic water in the bathtub and rejoiced at the lack of dirty dishes in the sink.

Her only criticism was of the pictures hanging on the walls, but that was more about artistic taste than an issue with the pieces appearing artificial.

When she eventually removed the headset she sat for a moment with an astonished look on her face.

“Once you’re in it you don’t want to leave,” she said. “You forget you were ever anywhere else.”

That sense of suspended reality is exactly what Hoppe and Jedlinski are hoping will attract real estate agents and developers from big markets in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. They’re also scoping out markets closer to home.

“We think this could work very well in Windsor,” said Jedlinski. “Plus, with us being so close to the border. We’ve looked to Detroit and watched how people there are giving back to the community and rebuilding and this is something they can use.”

The company’s creators are planning to get to the point where they can offer a variety of condos an easy-to-use menu that will allow potential customers to try out different spaces. Eventually they plan setting 3DFX up so people can switch flooring or even fixtures and truly customize their future homes.

Hoppe calls it “selling from the soul” and added that the company already has people in the industry talking.

“We’re getting ready to show this to a couple of developers in London and over in Detroit as well,” he said. “We’ve had a few architecture firms come through and I think what we have here is something that’s going to catapult us into the future.”