I’m standing in a showroom: Gray floors complemented by gray and red walls. In front of me, there’s a hall with products and brochures and television screens. To the left, a model living room. But it’s all virtual. It’s Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US (METUS)’s virtual showroom, designed to show off the company’s residential air conditioning and heat pump products. Visiting the digital showroom mimics the experience of visiting an actual showroom without the need for accompanying travel costs or disrupting a schedule.
I wanted to try some virtual HVAC experiences recently. They have certainly grown in popularity over the past year and a half. Manufacturers have needed to come up with creative ways to showcase their product solutions in a time where a lot of in-person opportunities have either been reduced in size or cancelled, and the virtual locations are one of the solutions.
So I took a look at METUS’ virtual showroom and ZoomLock’s virtual roadshow. The roadshow puts the user in a virtual truck where the user can examine ZoomLock fittings close-up, talk to sales engineers, and read information about the products. Both the showroom and the roadshow utilize a 360-degree camera. I could pan to stare at the ceiling or turn around to see a different area of the virtual environment. It felt a bit like a video game, minus the need to shoot at aliens.
For METUS, the showroom was designed to allow distributors, contractors, and end users to browse the different inverter technologies. The resources are extensive: Users can see what the products will look like in a living room, watch videos on the use of thermal sensors in the products, and read about the inverter technologies. This also allows this information to be spread without the need of company travel.
The showroom is available for access in METUS' International region — Mexico, Central America, Bermuda, select areas of South America, and the Caribbean. In addition to this, the visitors can talk with a METUS representative through live chat and email to ask specific questions about the product technology, availability, and distribution. The METUS virtual showroom, which was created with the help of the ByondXR digital agency, can be accessed here.
“The idea was born in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic as a mechanism to continue promoting our products and bringing people closer together,” said Gina Larrea, residential sales, international business unit, Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US. “We want customers to learn basic product information and to see the full range we have available.”
Personally, I was very impressed with the use of digital technology to create an entire virtual room. Navigating the environment is simple. You step forward and back by clicking the arrows on the ground, and you can zoom with your mouse wheel. It’s easy to learn the information you went there to gather — and easy to spend more time than you planned just exploring the room.
“ByondXR has helped us create a unique and engaging shopping experience,” Larrea added. “Their team embraced the challenge of learning a new industry and successfully executed our vision. We see a tremendous value in providing a seamless interactive experience to our stakeholders.”
ZoomLock Virtual Roadshow
The virtual ZoomLock roadshow puts visitors in the ZoomLock truck, where they can watch videos, download collateral, and see the latest updates for the products, such as the added long-radius elbows to the product lineup. Like the virtual showroom, this allows contractors and distributors the convenience of visiting the ZoomLock roadshow whenever and wherever they would like. The virtual roadshow can be accessed here.
“We are excited to launch the ZoomLock Virtual Roadshow and connect with existing and future customers using this virtual platform,” said Dustin Searcy, marketing manager, Sporlan Division. “The self-guided virtual roadshow truck is a way to do that and update contractors on our latest ZoomLock MAX and ZoomLock PUSH product offerings.”
The roadshow offers a similar immersive experience to the one discussed above. Users find themselves in the ZoomLock truck and can easily explore through clicking the various options. There are PDFs of product information, statistics on the need for safe brazing, and videos demonstrating the strength of ZoomLock fittings.
It is currently unclear what the HVAC events landscape will look like post-pandemic. Many of us have become accustomed to virtual meetings and events, but once everything returns to normal, the desire for virtual experiences could wane. But the convenience of being able to examine new products and technologies from a desk chair without needing to travel could mean that these digital events are here to stay. Likely the industry will find some new balance between in-person and digital experiences. Regardless, be sure to explore the virtual environments that exist now to educate you on developing HVAC technologies.