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Electrohome Speeds Home Sales for Real Estate Developer; Shows Photorealistic Large-Scale 3-D Animated "Virtual" Home Tours.

KITCHENER, Ontario--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 8, 1998--Electrohome Limited, a leading manufacturer of high brightness video/data/graphics projection systems, has supplied the VistaPro 2000 for the first real estate virtual tour application: a large-scale three-dimensional computer-generated tour of planned condominium and loft housing.

Backed by a simple personal computer programmed with "virtual tour" software made by Aareas by Design Ltd., Toronto-based developer Triloft Developments Ltd. takes customers on a photorealistic animated "walk-through" of six very different model properties at its latest condominium and loft development in Toronto called The Kings. Triloft, which has grown rapidly in three years on the basis of its striking architectural designs, chose the VistaPro system for its large-screen presentations, to accelerate the sales process. Virtual reality tours have been tried before, but were hampered by size of standard computer monitors and the poor image quality and limited brightness of many video projection systems.

"Virtual tours require us to deliver very high resolution and brightness to make the experience of visiting these living spaces compelling and realistic," says Zoran Veselic, product manager for Electrohome Limited. "Our VistaPro images are so detailed, bright and large that Triloft can make presentations to 30 people or more at the same time without having to worry over dimming the lights or if everyone can clearly see the presentation."

Triloft is like many housing developers in major cities across North America who compete aggressively for condominium and loft buyers. But when people walk into Triloft's $35 million (Cdn) The Kings they experience a radically different kind of tour of the company's available properties. The presentation room is built around the Electrohome VistaPro video projection system, which projects dramatic moving images of Triloft living spaces, built using Aareas by Design software, onto a screen five feet high by seven feet wide.

The VistaPro 2000 projects bright moving images of exceptional clarity, creating a "you are there" feeling that the developer was previously unable to achieve in its presentations, according to Triloft president Wayne Barwise. "The VistaPro 2000 combines a very bright picture and the technology to resolve fine detail, allowing us to project an image so large that customers feel they are actually moving up a flight of stairs, looking out a window, or enjoying how the sun plays across the living space."

Aareas by Design works from two-dimensional architectural plans to create three-dimensional animated tours. They're complete with vividly detailed images, sunlight and artificial light, and the viewer's choice of wall coverings, furniture styles and finishing details. Details abound, even down to a partially eaten apple left behind on a kitchen table by a "virtual" occupant.

As exotic as the virtual reality tour sounds, it has a bottom-line practicality. Normally, a developer will build a full-sized condominium model that costs between $70,000 (Cdn) and $100,000 (Cdn). But, according to Triloft's Wayne Barwise, customers who aren't interested in that one model tend to have trouble envisioning what the other units will look like from two-dimensional plans. For about the same cost as building one full-sized model, it can show several virtual reality models in three-dimensions, so customers feel as if they are actually walking through them.

Aareas by Design, headed by president Frank Guido, works with the Triloft development team to choose from a very large custom library of images and data that allows each of the six models to be furnished right down to eye-catching details like wood, tile or marble flooring choices as well as finishing trim. "Like a Hollywood set, we take the finished three-dimensional design and furnish it, supplying lighting, even the sunlight shining through the windows. We then animate the tour, allowing customers to "move" through the space, climb stairs, pace across the living room and peer into a closet," Guido explains.

After completion of the "Kings" project, Triloft will again use the virtual reality tour for the launch of a new $40 million (Cdn) housing development project in three to six months. By simply re-tooling the images, Triloft will be able to sell units in the new project well in advance of other development activities, thus shortening their sales cycle.

Technical Backgrounder For "Virtual" Tour

Aareas by Design Ltd., with offices in Toronto, Ontario; Edmonton, Alberta; and Fort Myers, Florida, offers unique software solutions in specialized, niche markets. Using up to 12 different software programs including AutoCAD 3D and several types of video capturing software, Aareas takes the 2-D model of the physical space (usually an AutoCAD electronic file) and recreates it in three dimensions on a typical high-performance personal computer. Aareas maintains a very large digitized library of trim pieces, colors, tiles, furniture, light fixtures, and a vast array of accessories that can be rendered photorealistically in three dimensions. Once each room is complete, the staff determines the path and speed of the tour through the living space.

The animation program generates a frame-by-frame representation of 1280x1024-resolution images that can be played at thirty frames per second. If the tour's virtual camera is programmed to spend 10 seconds in a room, that means 300 high resolution frames will be created and stored in one home model's tour file. Once the customer has picked a model, Aareas' B.O.S.S. - The Buyer Option Selection System - allows them to specify exactly how the space will be finished.

Company president Frank Guido says his company is always experimenting with new technology and 3-D renderings of building and interior spatial designs. He thinks it is perfectly reasonable to consider a future where current technology can be extended to develop and project images on all four walls - as well as ceiling and floor - of a presentation room, to create a fully enveloping virtual tour of a living space.

About the projector technology used for this project:

The VistaPro 2000 projection system featured in the Triloft application features the Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) developed by Texas Instruments (TI). This TI chipset design, when combined with Electrohome-designed lighting sources, electronics and specialized optics, allows the VistaPro to produce an unrivaled range of greyscale modulation on the screen with a resolution of up to 30-bit color.

Pixelization on the screen has become a very important part of resolution discussions. Transmissive LCD-based designs have a much lower aperture ratio than the Digital Micromirror Devices (DMD) found in TI's Digital Light Processing systems, making the pixelization effect more pronounced. The VistaPro projector used at Triloft was chosen because it allows images to be projected on a very large screen without the obvious pixelization one finds in LCD-based projectors. Its high resolution, combined with inherently high brightness, allows images to be clearly seen even in rooms where there is a significant amount of ambient light.

Established in 1979 and headquartered in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, Electrohome Projection Systems represents the Visual Communications Division of Electrohome Limited. Founded in 1907, Electrohome Limited supplies total solutions in visual communications to customers around the world, specializing in large-screen video/data/graphic projection systems. Electrohome's VistaPro line of SVGA-resolution projectors has set the new standard for images in the high brightness marketplace.

 CONTACT: Rogers Communications
 Angela Cincotta or Sarah Mensching
 (781) 224-1100
 Electrohome, Limited
 Zoran Veselic (for all technical inquiries)
 Dorina Belu (for all other inquiries)
 (519) 744-7111

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Date:Jul 8, 1998
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