Smart Phone Apps for Builders: Velux Skylight Planner
(iTunes description: Visualize your home, bathed in free, natural, beautiful sunlight. A certified VELUX Skylight Specialist can make that a reality, but to help you imagine the possibilities, this easy-to-use app gives you the ability to discover what a dramatic difference skylights make. Whether you want to open up a dark interior room or make an architectural statement the VELUX Skylight Planner is the perfect tool to see how skylights might look in your home and share your ideas with friends and family.
Simply go in to your living space, choose a skylight product, size it and snap a shot to view or share with others to see how daylight from above can transform your space.)
Velux, a window and skylight manufacturer, offers this augmented reality & supplier-specific tool to help you drive your (and their) sales. As smart phones become more ubiquitous, we’ll see more manufacturers expanding their sales force by empowering the builder as their end-sales professional, often moving the task away from supply house and towards a direct-to-consumer model.
The Velux app works fairly well. The most ingenuitive feature is the ability to overlay a nice photo of a Velux skylight over a photograph of your client’s existing conditions. If your client is considering a skylight, few things will motivate them more than seeing what one actually looks like in their own home.
Skylights come with all sorts of heat gain and thermal loss problems, and it would be nice to have some data attached to the app to fully inform a builder. Considering that this data doesn’t necessarily help skylight sales, it should come as no surprise that it is missing from the app. What does exist is more of a marketing pitch: Velux doesn’t let too much mechanical heat escape the inside, or let in solar heat gain from the outside. Solar Heat Gain Co Efficient (SHGC) data would be a solid addition to future app versions, as would U-value, condensation resistance, air leakage, Low-E options and all the other information builders have learned to expect from a National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) window sticker.
Regional data might also be useful in a future application, as would general positioning advice. I’ve had client’s first instinct be to install a skylight on the south facing roof façade, which would look nice but cook their house during a North Carolina summer. The north façade (offering light but no heat) would be better. In Michigan, the opposite might be desirable.
That said, Velux has put together a robust catalog of their venting skylights, fixed skylights, and their proprietary Sun Tunnel solar tubes. They can also be searched with or without blinds, and by electrical functionality. Then, you can drag the skylights in the photo wherever you want. And you can resize them to whatever size you want. That’s all pretty powerful.
All in all, this is a great start by Velux. It is really cool to be able to visualize a skylight in your project house. Clients are bound to love that feature, which is why this is an app every builder and designer should have. It will be interesting to see where Velux may go next with their application, and to see if other suppliers, skylight or otherwise, follow suit.