Deakin architects have developed a virtual reality tool that lets people customise and walk around inside their future space before it has been built. 

The new Pre-Occupancy Evaluation Tool, or P-OET, uses augmented and virtual reality to enable developers to produce bespoke homes and work spaces tuned to users' needs.

Led by Professor of Architecture and Interdisciplinary Design Jules Moloney, the team developing the tool considered how a typical couple might go about buying an apartment, leveraging VR technology to enable new home buyers to make better and more informed decisions.

"At the moment developers rely on floor plans, a few select perspective views or an expensive show home, but floorplans are hard for average buyers to understand and often the images and show apartments are generic," says Moloney.

The idea behind P-OET is to allow users to shape and design their future homes to match their needs and budget.

"Because the end user is the one with the input, not the designer, you can tune the final product to your specifications and balance the best you can with the budget you’ve got.

"This is a win-win situation, with owners getting a tailored home and developers being able to engage with a shifting demographic."

According to Moloney, another benefit of the technology is that it could help buyers understand the constraints of a space before moving in.

"There are things you don't understand until you live in a place for a while, such as if there's enough space to move around comfortably, the views and where the sun will be at any given moment," he says.

"With this tool we can show views out from your future living room or work space, allow you to walk about and test circulation, and provide time-lapse simulations of daily and seasonal sun paths.

"This can be incredibly useful for the spatial arrangements of offices and workspaces, by getting things right in the first instance rather than relying on costly retrofitting.

"We can even apply spatialised sound in the environment so you can get of sense of how activity noise is going to affect the space and make any necessary changes prior to occupation."