If you’re interested in learning more about Matterport and how the 3D virtual tours are used in India, this blog post is for you. We cover the basics in non-technical verbiage to make it easy for a broad audience to understand this innovative solution.
Matterport in India
Matterport is a US-based company that offers 3D virtual tour solutions with its software platform. They also sell cameras (3D scanners) such as the Pro2 and the newly-launched Pro3.
The virtual tours can also be created with other hardware and use the Matterport platform for hosting and sharing. Starting from a smartphone and consumer 360° cameras, the compatible devices also go up to professional-grade devices such as the Leica BLK360.
The Matterport Pro2 at a furniture showroom in Surat, Gujarat.
Professional devices like the Pro1, Pro2, Pro3 and BLK360 use infrared or laser technology to measure distances. This is an important aspect of the virtual tour, where the users will be able to see the dimensions of a room or a table, for instance.
Let’s say you’re virtually walking through a house for rent. You can check the size of the windows to purchase curtains. You can also share the tour via WhatsApp to your interior designer so that she can plan the decor accordingly.
Why Do Businesses Use It?
Businesses who are looking to increase foot traffic to their stores use Matterport for marketing purposes. This is one example. There are plenty of other industries such as hospitality, education, healthcare, warehouses, museums, etc where Matterport tours gives them an edge over their competitors.
Apart from promotion, these virtual tours are also useful for inventory assessment, site status (construction), facilities management, co-ordinating with other teams, training, etc.
A 3D Scanner at a Conference Room at Lonavala, Maharashtra.
In commercial real estate, potential clients can see the facilities virtually before taking the negotiation further. The office rental companies can also add information tags (Mattertags) so that the user can see the details (text, image, video, web links) within the tour itself.
Another special feature in Matterport is the dollhouse and floor plan views. In one click, you can see the entire layout (refer the featured image at the top of this article), then click to where you’d like to go next. For example, a guest can zoom out from the textile section, see the floor plan or dollhouse, and click on the Bhutha Gallery to go there directly instead of clicking many times to reach that spot.
The dollhouse is what gives that 3D effect to the entire virtual tour. Otherwise they are pretty much panoramic images stitched together by an AI bot.
What is 3D Scanning?
When IR or laser beams reflect on a surface and return to the sensor, it measures the distance and depth. This process of scanning a space or an object helps the software to create 3D models.
A scanner like the Matterport Pro2 or Pro3 does not allow adjustments of aperture, shutter speed, ISO, exposure and other factors that typically influence traditional photography. Once it is set in a tripod, it spins 360 degrees in about 30 seconds, without any interference from the person who is operating the device.
With advanced scanners like the Leica BLK360, the HDR settings are adjustable. We are not getting into consumer 360 degree camera and smartphone settings, because the Pro2’s quality is the minimum that businesses expect.
Matterport and other scanning platforms are popularly used in BIM projects. Watch this video from Autodesk to learn more about BIM:
Where is the Creativity?
Matterport virtual tours are as-is representations of the space. Since editing (like those with Photoshop) is not possible, the data is court-admissible in insurance claims and other scenarios in certain regions (not in India, yet).
HD Image Extracted from a Matterport Tour – Shimla, Himachal Pradesh.
The professional cameras compatible with Matterport may employ HDR techniques with AI-assisted colourisation. However, the effect is not under the technician’s control. The device and the platform is designed for actual representations and not for creative endeavours like those in filmmaking or even real estate photography.
The PhaseOne XT camera system shown above (medium format camera, at the price of a Mercedes) is designed for landscape photography. If you try shooting portraits or wildlife, you’ll be disappointed. Creativity aside, there are particular devices designed for unique purposes and we have to appreciate the engineering behind that.
Consider the IMAX-certified Sony Venice 6K that was used for Top Gun: Maverick. There’s a good reason Tom Cruise didn’t want to stream the movie but wait for the theatrical release – the movie grossed $1.489 billion:
A director might use colours to evoke a certain emotion. For example, Manoj Night Shyamalan uses the red colour in The Sixth Sense just before the spirits are shown. These subtle cues are what gives the audience that ‘wow’ factor but they don’t even realise it.
Add infrasonic sounds, the right lighting, aspect ratios and camera movements to get the desired effect. Therein lies creativity. Matterport is not designed for such creative projects.
What's Beyond Matterport?
Matterport holds the largest market share in spatial data. The quality is world-class using the professional scanners. For promotion and general documentation, Matterport is not only easy to understand, but quite time-saving.
Let’s say you’re an architect looking for the most accurate as-built representations of a particular building, then there are laser scanners that give dense point cloud data.
The Leica P series scanners have a range up to 1km, which is typically used by industrial professionals to scan tall buildings, dams, mines and other environments.
There are plenty of survey-grade scanners from other companies such as the Trimble, Faro and more. Talking about them could go into pages, but we’ll save it for another day.
Nitin Gadkari’s office says 10,000 kms of Greenfield Expressways are under construction by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. Imagine capturing such large quantities of data with high accuracy.
Here’s the Leica Pegasus TRK700 Evo with dual scanners and panoramic cameras, which is designed to be mounted on top of a car or an SUV. How cool is that?!
We are unsure of when the new gen Leica BLK360 will be compatible with Matterport. However, Hexagon says the 3D scanner will assist in projects such as surveying and forensics. Let’s look at this interesting application from Faro:
Automated 3D Scanning
Matterport and other companies are the forefront of 3D scanning solutions. Some of the exciting (and expensive) options will soon come to India. We don’t have a motorised dolly to move the Matterport scanners around, and a manual intervention is inevitable but there are aerial and autonomous ideas in play already:
At the bottom of this article, you can find some external links, which includes Skydio 3D mapping solutions, which is touted as completely autonomous. This is an alternative to our over dependence on DJI drones. There’s also the endearing Boston Dynamics dog (Spot) who can take a Faro Focus or a Lecia BLK on its head and scurry around. Here’s a flying BLK, while we’re at it:
The Aero India 2023 held at Yelahanka in Bengaluru was the biggest event ever with 809 defence companies participating. We hope indigenous drones with payload capacity will help with autonomous LiDAR scanning and medium-format photography.
What's Unique to India?
The good thing about India is that there’s lots of scope, especially when less than 5% of the real estate market digitised. The challenge is awareness and adoption, though.
We’ve seen top-tier builders who haven’t heard about such a thing as a ‘virtual tour’, let alone ‘Matterport’. However, when an example is shown, they become receptive almost immediately.
If this means that there’s plenty of demand (vs supply) in real estate, imagine the other sectors like hospitality and education. Smartphone penetration is looking quite encouraging even in rural areas. As long as there’s internet, there’s scope for Matterport scanning projects.
If you’re looking for a Matterport tour of your property, contact us and we will take it forward. We’ll need some basic information like the area (in sq. ft) and other information to schedule the scan.
We’ll manage hosting for one year, and edits like Mattertags for a lifetime. We typically take up large projects, however, we will consider on a case by case basis. The following virtual tour is a small studio apartment in Kolkata: