How one kitchen retailer is using virtual reality to get ahead of the competition

Virtual reality might be about to shake up the PC gaming space, with the Oculus Rift headset ready to launch next month, but its uses extend beyond gaming.

The devices can be used within education, taking children to other worlds to learn history, or within travel agents to showcase holiday destinations – and VR is even being used to train dental surgeons. 

Now the highly competitive kitchen retail sector is starting to embrace virtual reality.

Scotland-based PC retailer and system builder Utopia Computers is working with a kitchen retailer to help allow their clients to walk around a virtual kitchen before buying it.

Utopia director Craig Hume told PCR: "A short while ago we were giving a demonstration of Oculus Rift to a client of ours, for no other reason than to share just how fun this technology is. We got talking and he wondered if it could be adapted to show people around kitchens – not such an odd question when you find out he owns Lloyds Kitchens & Bathrooms, one of Scotland’s largest kitchen retailers.

"The team at Utopia are always up for a challenge and saw this as an opportunity, not only to help out a good client, but also to take steps forward in cementing our place as Scotland’s leading VR specialist. The 3D design software that this company uses is not natively compatible with VR, but using third party software we have been able to almost get it working!

"Our lead team member on this project is actually just finishing his fourth year at Glasgow University and is currently writing his dissertation on developing and testing a mixed reality platform that will combine virtual reality and real world objects.

"Using technology like Rift and Leap Motion we are incredibly excited for him and can’t wait to read and of course try his finished product. Once this project is complete, we will be back to the VR kitchen to help our client show his plans in a whole new light."

Hume added: "VR has an amazing ability to convey scale in a way that is simply impossible on a monitor or TV. I myself am going through the process of renovating a house. The idea of being able to walk around the final designs before actually signing off on the work is very exciting. Think about the next time you are looking to move home and being able to have a virtual tour of the property."

Hume said that during 2016 Utopia will be positioning itself as the leader in all things VR in Scotland. 

"We see ourselves as the destination for consumers looking to take advantage of this new technology," he explained.

"While the obvious gaming revenue streams are there [within virtual reality], our industry should be mindful of the other avenues that I believe we should all be considering. 

"The possibilities are endless and IT firms are in the ideal position to be able to deliver these goals."

Image source: Shutterstock

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