I was recently looking at places to rent for my mother in-law. I was wearing the vOICe as my wife and I looked at prospective houses. For those unfamiliar with the Indian real estate market, here are a few things to note
- Real estate is an investment for many people. Landlords construct houses specifically for renting.
- Many houses are little more than shells with plumbing.
- You need to check carefully because maintenance is bad here. The landlord’s idea is to get the maximum return for the lowest cost.
- Be careful about the furniture because it can be old and unusable.
- Real estate agents seldom give you all the facts about a place up front.
I used passive echo location to get a sense of the size of the house.
I used my nose to tell how well the air was circulating in the house which was a key to ventilation.
I did not want to touch anything because the houses were not being cleaned regularly. The vOICe however came in handy to ask about bits of furniture. I was also able to see and ask about the paint on the walls because I was able to perceive texture differences. In addition, I was able to explore independently and supplement my other senses and see the quality of doors.
I was unable to confirm if objects were dusty visually but I expect if you see something hazy, assume it is dusty.
I was also able to get an idea of how the common staircase was maintained by scanning the walls. I did feel them while ascending and descending the staircase but the vOICe gave me a larger field of view.
One example of detecting furniture was when I spotted a stack of something. It turned out to be a wall rack cut out of the slab of the open kitchen.
You may well ask me, why not ask my sighted wife to describe things to me? I could have done that but she was making her own observations, talking to the agent and navigating me. We did however had a discussion in the car where I was able to compliment some of her observations.
Our hunt continues but I am glad I have the ability to get data about my environment at a distance.