A few years ago, we wrote about a home design game that works as an entertaining way to express your interior design skills.
While fun, the app wasn’t good enough for me. I wanted something more real, where the layout of the property was exactly like the one I bought, so I could plan out my furnishings and renovation virtually.
Turns out, there was a Malaysian app fulfilling my exact demand. It’s called SofaX, and it brands itself as a metaverse for your home by letting you decorate and furnish properties in VR.
Your digital home
I actually found the SofaX app in late 2020, where it mostly behaved as a digital version of interior design brochures (or Pinterest, if you will). It had VR interior design functions as well, but the lengthy loading times were frustrating, with few properties and furniture options available.
Almost two years in, SofaX seems to have more updates. The VR home design portion is the star of the show, and has a much faster loading time. It also has at least 3,000 pieces of branded furniture, and over 1,800 VR floor plans that are inspired by residential projects around Klang Valley.
These residential projects are made up of real-life floor plans from property developers such as Glomac, Beverly Group, Sime Darby Property, and Tropicana Corporation Berhad, to name a few.
On top of that, you can find contacts for service providers like plumbing, aircon installation, carpentry work, Feng Shui consultancy, and more, on the app. There aren’t many names listed yet, but the team is in the process of onboarding more.
SofaX’s main goal is to help users visualise the design of their dream home in the exact property they bought. The app does so by letting users combine various furniture from different brands under one virtual roof.
Giving brands exposure
Via the team’s 3D modelling skills and VR gaming technology, they started SofaX in November 2020 by constructing the VR house plans based on publicly available information from property brochures.
In December 2021 though, the team began approaching property developers to get more information about their house plans and constructed them accordingly.
“The property developers are very interested to work with us as the creation of this little metaverse of the houses that they are selling [or have] sold will be useful for their customers,” shared Mac Lai, SofaX’s COO.
“They do not have to pay for an expensive mobile app or other costs in getting our service to render in virtual reality.”
For the furniture merchants on the app, their benefit is an advertising opportunity, in which they pay SofaX commissions between 5% to 20% of each furniture sale.
Having the products featured and able to be interacted with through the VR platform gives these furniture brands more exposure and potential sales. A similar idea applies to the service providers on the app.
A gateway to e-commerce
Using the app, I realised there’s a “Scan to Pay” option that works with participating merchants. This led me to wonder if SofaX offered streamlined e-commerce functions where users could purchase the furniture they liked straight from the app itself.
“To begin with, we are not a 100% online type of e-commerce,” Mac clarified. “Our concept is phygital-based (physical plus digital experience).”
After a user visualises their design, they can then visit the physical showrooms of SofaX’s partner merchants to better experience how the pieces feel to the touch.
“There are also more items at the showroom which are not available in the app. The idea is to bring customers to their shops,” Mac told Vulcan Post.
For SofaX to earn the commissions they charge merchants, users have to make a certain form of payment through the app, hence SofaX’s reward and credits system. To put it simply, the rewards system works more like your petrol points card.
“This also enables us to save unnecessary transaction costs which typically payment system providers will charge,” Mac justified about the rewards system.
Of course, SofaX does plan on letting users purchase the furniture straight from the app itself down the line. Mac added that it has always been in SofaX’s mission to provide the best of both worlds where users can play and buy straight from the app.
Bigger developments down the pipeline
In the next 3 years, SofaX’s team intends to provide a digital twin for all houses, including those in neighbouring cities and countries such as Singapore and Bangkok. Mac believes it’s possible, as the team has the in-house resources to turn houses into VR without being in the actual location itself.
“As and when we cover the property development projects, we will be building our ecosystem of 3D assets of furniture companies in those areas itself,” added Mac.
SofaX is currently in the midst of raising its pre-Series A funding and expects to be raising its Series A at the end of the year.
With the VR technology which we already have, we intend to build more metaverse world which could cover virtual shopping malls, virtual convention centres, virtual car shows, to name a few. These will include developing individual apps to cater for different events.Mac Lai, Chief Operating Officer of SofaX
Featured Image Credit: Mac Lai, Chief Operating Officer of SofaX