Welcome to the first installment of the Matterport blog.
In upcoming postings myself, others from our company or guests we invite we will explore ideas, share interesting insights, and show some great 3D visuals that Matterport is making possible. We invite you share your thoughts with us.
Photography and CAD – Worlds Collide
We believe that photography is an incredibly powerful communication medium that is an integral part of our lives on a daily basis. Photography expands our horizons and delivers information about the world that otherwise we would not have.
There are two key ideas behind Matterport.
Idea 1 – the current generation of photography is limited by trying to convey a 3D world in 2D.
Because we live in a 3D world, why would we think that we’re able to capture it well using 2D photography? 3D models are an incredibly powerful medium for enabling people to experience a 3D world in immersive 3D, providing a true feeling of what it’s like to be in a space.
Idea 2 – the current generation of 3D technology is expensive and limited to the technically elite and the results don’t look realistic, but the underlying technologies are improving rapidly.
Capturing a space in 3D has required expensive equipment, technical expertise, specialized software, and tons of work and effort to create and interact with. You’ve needed to spend a lot of effort to create the content, and then be fluent in CAD to enjoy it. Not really our idea of “mass market.” Starting with the launch of the Kinect, and continuing with the proliferation of cloud services and rapid improvements in client device capabilities, all of that is starting to change. We think that the timing was right to apply computer vision technology to this new set of tools to build something groundbreaking.
We set out to capture the best of both worlds while getting rid of the limitations of each, delivering an engaging, rich, and realistic 3D experience that is easy to create and accessible to the masses through everyday devices. Sounds pretty enticing, right?
Step 1 – Redefine photography
At Matterport, we have created a platform that enables everyday users to capture 3D photographic images and distribute them to other people. The first version of our platform consists of a 3D camera containing multiple sensors, a cloud platform for creating high-resolution dimensionally accurate 3D models, and Web and mobile apps developed by Matterport and third parties that allow non-technical users to experience and interact with this new 3D photography. By integrating multiple 2D images, 3D modeling data and other information into a single compelling 3D user experience, we’re able to realistically depict the world as it exists — and as you would experience it in person — online. We spent years developing the camera, automating all of the steps, and making it so simple to use that even non-technical people can create beautiful 3D models.
New possibilities and practical applications spring up daily. Our initial customers are real estate photographers, brokers, and agents, who are using the Matterport 3D Showcase to make listings more immersive and engaging. Construction companies are using it to enhance progress reports as 3D images convey a new perspective on complex, ongoing projects. Retailers and decorators are looking at ways to study how furniture or furnishings might look in a home before they are delivered. Retail planners are making 3D models of stores and verifying product placement or planning future layouts. The technology is even being used to create courtroom exhibits. Our camera works best shooting interior spaces like rooms, but we’ve even used it outside to shoot rock formations.
And, like in the first era of photography, we are also laying the groundwork to make sure the idea and technology can spread. While our first camera is targeted at professional photographers, you will see cell phones capable of taking 3D images coming to market later this year or early next year. When those come out, people will share 3D images of their homes or other spaces.
In the future, what will you call a 3D photo?
As with anything new, we get our share of skeptics. But we believe in less than ten years, “3D photo” won’t even exist as a term. People will just call it a “photo.” After all, does anyone still call it a “digital photo”?
Here are some recent examples to share. We’ll sharing more in upcoming posts and I‘ll also talk about the reasons we think mobile is so important as we move forward.
Here’s an example, we like to call this “Welcome to My Presidential Suite.” One of the great things about working at Matterport is that we get to visit a lot of places that your average software developer might not ordinarily see.
Case in point: the Presidential Suite at the Four Seasons Hotel in Palo Alto. It is one of the premier rooms at one of the most glamorous properties in the Bay Area. It offers the highest standards of luxury and comfort.
If this is your first Matterport scan, the navigation controls are in the bottom corners. By clicking the icon of the person, you can walk through the property. Clicking the 3D image next to that takes you to “Dollhouse View” which provides a top-down view of the entire property. The last icon, floor plan, lets you move from one location in the property to another. Let’s say you’re enjoying the being marble splendor of the bathroom but want to gaze out the window of the living room. Click the floor plan icon and then click on the living room. Your point-of-view will be transferred there.
And here’s another example of a space you may not have visited (recommended!) – The Art of the WPA at San Francisco’s Beach Chalet.
This mural, which wraps around the first floor of the Beach Chalet at the far western end of Golden Gate Park, highlights the San Francisco area as it appeared during the 1930s. Artist Lucien Labaudt also painted in several friends and San Francisco luminaries. It became a tourist landmark soon after restoration in the 1990s. If you take the time to read the many panels accompanying the endearing scenes, you will gather bits and pieces of how it felt to live in the city during the Great Depression.
What’s great about the scan is how well the Matterport camera was able to capture shading, color and detail that Labaudt imbued in the painting. Bonus points for those that find the people playing volleyball and the giant bowl of potato salad.
More later on Mobile 3D Capture and our 3D App Framework…