Anybody who has seen a home show on HGTV knows how it ends. The design genius shows the client, usually, a couple around their new kitchen or master bedroom or yard and they say “This doesn’t look like my house.” Some design experts were able to do the same thing Tuesday in virtual reality during an event by Surreal Events that showcased the company’s video game-based technology to allow designers to lead invited guests through a virtual mockup of their creations. The space allowed the home artists a chance to show their wares and let Surreal Events showcase their technology with interactive streaming demonstrations of groundbreaking facial recreation technology that showcased how far things have come in a short time. Each guest was given a chance to put together their own avatar and interact with participants. The event, which also highlighted products from Kholer and featured Chip Wade of HGTV’s Elbow Room allowed visitors to see just what you can do with the revolutionary gaming engine behind Epic Games’ Fortnite and Disney’s The Mandalorian.
Sara Bendrick, who has hosted a number of yard space design shows on DIY and HGTV toured guests around a beautiful Spanish-inspired garden that was faithfully recreated from a real space that she had recently completed. Guests were allowed to stroll down her pathway, virtually warm themselves at the gas firepit (Bendrick prefers gas because they burn clean), Check out the grill and plants while she gave everyone the same red carpet treatment she does her clients in person and on TV.
Tamera Day of Bargain Mansions fame showed off a beautiful new kitchen with new fixtures, cabinets, and more. Like the outdoor space, the kitchen design felt organic. As unnatural as it was in reality the sensation of hearing your footsteps as you stroll through space and the ability to see around corners and into nooks and crannies truly takes you to another place from a computer screen. The beautiful blue cabinets popped against the creamy counters. Day said that blue is becoming a very popular color in homes because it is a calming color. The past year has certainly highlighted a need to be able to calm ourselves in the home.
The stars of Extreme Makeover Home Edition Carrie Locklyn, Darren Keefe, showcased a home season 3 of the show highlighted by an island with a waterfall edge. For those of you picturing water spilling onto the floor for effect, don’t worry. The term refers to a counter that continues from the flat surface over the edge of the parameter of the space. The space also showed off the open-concept behind the design allowing guest to make their way through the shared living space where they could check out the drapes, furniture, and artwork. In each experience, guests were able to both see the setups and learn about the products they were looking at.
The experience is meant to help usher in a future where events can be held online in a way that gets people out of the Zoom experience and into something that feels much more like being somewhere with people. And it wasn’t just interacting with the celebrity influencers. The Surreal events space also included lobbies and lounges where guests could interact with each other and staff from the company. Its areas were set up so that anyone sitting at a virtual table could look at the virtual face of the person they were speaking with along with their actual face on the screen. The overall effect provided an intimacy that has been missing for many people since so much of the country began to stay home the majority of the time. Two Surreal staff members and I had a chance to talk about everything from the amazing technology to Pixar movies and local festivals. We all agreed that it was nice to have a pleasant conversation in a way that allowed us out of our mind space.
Streaming will be about much more than TV shows and movies as we go forward. And these sorts of experiences will hardly be focussed only on conventions. The technology could be used for interactive experiences at sporting events, concerts and anything else that we want to see. And while we are not at a place where we will be racing around an obstacle course dodging King Kong feeling the wind in our hair this technology is getting ready to really play.