Whatever we think of the term ‘digital natives’, it is certainly a very appropriate descriptor for today’s student generation. Technology and the internet have been consistent parts of their lives and for the majority smart phones, tablets and laptops have taken them from toddler age through to their teenage years. Whether they are watching a film, accessing music or scheduling their social lives, digital technology has become a natural and necessary part of their day.
The use of smart devices has set a very high expectation for this generation, who assume the same level of accessibility, speed and efficiency is available in every other area of their lives. For teenagers about to make the leap into higher education, their electronic devices will be put to full use – from applying to their chosen university, to reviewing the local area and, for the first time, they can even use it to take a virtual walk around their prospective accommodation.
Choosing a home for their university years will be many teenagers’ first experience in selecting a property. It is a crucial decision that could make the difference between feeling happy and settled in the early days away from home or feeling regretful that they didn’t carry out more research. So it makes perfect sense to make the entire accommodation search easy, accessible and entirely online.
As one would expect, the majority of student accommodation management agencies have an online presence, with comprehensive websites detailing the specific sites and spaces available and other useful information regarding costs and the surrounding area. Many of these websites also offer additional features to take a closer look at the rooms and flats, with photographs, floor plans, and occasionally 360-degree views to showcase the spaces. Whilst helpful, the problem with these two-dimensional views is that they do not give a completely true reflection of the space and students find it a difficult to get a real perspective of the accommodation.
Enter an emerging new trend that could become the perfect companion for the digital generation when viewing property. There is a fast-growing market for 3D visualisation on both website and smart device apps that present students with a comprehensive, realistic view of potential accommodation. The 3D visualisation allows students to gain the best possible perspective without physically having to visit the property by viewing an entire room, flat or building in an interactive and immersive way. Students can effectively take a virtual walk around the room and get a real feel for what the property offers.
One of the major benefits of this new emerging technology is the ability to view the accommodation at any time from any device with internet access. Students will no longer have to travel miles visiting potential sites; either within the UK or from overseas, all students will have the same online access 24/7, without having to be physically present at the building. There is an element of gaming to navigating around the accommodation, viewing the space from any angle, zooming in and walking around will feel a familiar process to this digital generation and they can show screen-grabs via social media channels to share their findings with friends.
This technology could also give the competitive edge to any property management companies looking for the next marketing tool to showcase their offering. The entire booking process can be completed online and developments under construction can be viewed in the same way as existing accommodation, allowing potential customers to take a virtual look in and around the property well before the physical rooms are ready to view.
Digital natives are leading the way when it comes to running many aspects of their lives via their precious electronic devices. The future is clear to see and 3D visualisation can give a whole new perspective to these technological advancements.
Dr Stefan Fafinski is managing director of LiveSpace