How to Leverage 3D Mesh Data to Create Models of Real Spaces

In 2011, when we looked at the landscape of virtual representations of real spaces, we saw a big hole that needed filling. Nothing on the market that called itself a “3D tour” actually let us interact with a space the way we really wanted – as if it were real. That’s part of the problem we’re solving at Matterport. Our goal is to leverage 3D scanning technology to create virtual experiences that feel truly real, whether viewed on the web, on mobile devices, or in virtual reality.

And that’s why we decided to create something new. Matterport 3D spaces knit together high-resolution photographic data and dimensional data of a space to produce something that goes beyond simply morphing a single two-dimensional panorama into another. We create an actual, complete digital replica of a real space. And our true differentiator is really the part that you don’t see – the mesh.

What is a 3D mesh?

A textured 3D mesh is a dimensionally accurate, 3D map of a space represented by a set of polygons onto which we overlay colored textures. The textured mesh includes walls, windows, floors, ceilings, and the individual objects within the space. 

A 3D mesh model is the result of all the spatial data collected by the camera and processed in our cloud. We then project the spherical 2D photography the camera collects onto the textured mesh to provide photographic visual quality within the 3D space.

What can 3D mesh data be used for?

When combined, all this photographic and spatial 3D mesh data is processed to create an exceptionally real navigational experience. In virtual reality, this feeling is called presence – the visceral sense of being immersed in another reality. This technique of combining 2D and 3D data sets lets us create a realistic sense of movement as our 3D models are navigated because we use the textured mesh during the transitions between spherical photographs.

3D mesh data creates a level of detail that has a wide range of applications across various industries. Some examples of the applications of 3D mesh data include animation, visual effects,  virtual reality experiences, augmented reality, gaming, simulations, prototyping products, tutorials, 3D printing, and more.

But what we’re most interested in is the 3D mesh data applications in real estate.

Offer detailed virtual experiences

3D mesh data also lets us offer our unique Dollhouse view, which gives you a detailed and realistic picture of a space. This wouldn’t be possible without a complete textured mesh that includes everything in the space. Similarly, the Floor Plan view is generated from the mesh and would not otherwise be possible. Finally, because the 3D mesh data is dimensionally accurate, you are able to take measurements anywhere within the space using our Workshop application.

Because our 3D Showcase player is built to provide a smooth, photographically rich experience, we know that the importance of a high-quality mesh sometimes gets forgotten.

Tap into new virtual platforms 

The importance of a high-quality textured mesh only increases as we expand our content to be usable on new platforms, like virtual reality, and with new applications that let you annotate and even modify the model. Having 3D data on hand will put you ahead of the game when virtual reality technology becomes more accessible.

Closing thoughts on 3D mesh data

As you’re creating models now, keep in mind that 3D mesh data could be used for a number of applications in the future. That’s why it’s so important to scan thoroughly and try to get behind furniture and into every nook and cranny. (Remember, if you over-scan, you can still turn those positions off in Workshop to produce a clean walkthrough experience while keeping the advantage of all that great 3D mesh data.) Even smaller rooms like a bathroom or laundry room should have no fewer than 2 scan positions so that any point in space is seen from multiple angles. This generates the best quality geometry.

We see too many otherwise great models with bits of rooms or parts of couches missing. Snagging that one extra vertex position is always worth it!

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