PHORIA is an immersive technology studio based in Melbourne, Australia, founded by five friends who realized their complementary skill sets uniquely qualified them to break new ground using spatial data technology. The company lives and breathes Extended Reality (XR) and covers the full spectrum of 3D imaging from digital twins to Virtual and Augmented Reality.
They bought one of the very first Matterport Pro1 cameras in 2014. “I think it was number 11 off the production line,” says co-founder and CEO Trent Clews-de Castella. At the time, he had just moved to Melbourne and had found that looking for a new home was a disappointing experience.
I saw many beautiful property photos and videos, but when I finally visited places in person, they were often disappointing,” he explains. PHORIA’s founders figured there had to be a better way to experience spaces remotely, a problem Matterport was ideally suited to solving. “It was a no-brainer when we discovered Matterport. PHORIA has matured and evolved alongside Matterport ever since, creating CAPTUR3D in 2014,” he adds.
A Rewarding Real Estate Partnership
One of PHORIA’s earliest partnerships was with local real estate agency Jellis Craig, a company that specializes in high-end properties in the Australian state of Victoria. “Working with them has given us a lot of insight into how the real estate industry works,” says Alex Hitchcock, senior account manager at PHORIA, “and what agencies need when it comes to photo retouching, floor plans, videos, and analysis of how people use that content, what they look at, and for how long.”
CAPTUR3D, the Matterport-based content management system (CMS) developed by PHORIA, uses multiple cameras to create immersive 3D real estate tours. These tours are the next best thing to visiting an apartment or house in person. “We have a team that does post-production services for Jellis Craig, such as creating the highlight reels within Matterport virtual walkthroughs and photo retouching on their still shots,” says Hitchcock. “Essentially all Jellis Craig needs to do is go to a property, scan it, and click upload, then we take care of the rest.”
Many properties on the market are vacant, and it’s hard for potential buyers to imagine what spaces will look and feel like when furnished, prompting agencies to pay to have them temporarily staged with rented furniture. So PHORIA is further developing CAPTUR3D’s capabilities to digitally stage and enhance virtual tours. CAPTUR3D also provides advanced analytics that shows Jellis Craig which online real estate listings attract the most views and which areas of each property are scrutinized more than others.
We serve partners and clients all over the world now,” says Clews-de Castella. “The past year was a bit of a tipping point for digital twins and spatial data. We saw a digital awakening and experienced a massive behavioral shift in the property sector here in Australia, especially during the coronavirus lockdown in Melbourne.”
Beyond Real Estate
After buying their first Matterport camera in 2014, PHORIA became one of the first Matterport service providers in Australia and has since become the primary reseller there as well as a development partner. The company uses Matterport’s SDK and API development tools to create enhanced services for CAPTUR3D clients, extending the value of Matterport scans.
“As we integrate Matterport’s latest APIs into CAPTUR3D,” says co-founder and head of production Dean Kominek, “we create new and improved filter search processes that streamline workflows for our clients. That means we empower them to complete and deliver better products, faster.”
Initially, PHORIA used Matterport to capture spaces in apartments and houses. However, because the cameras can capture any place or object in 3D, PHORIA now uses them even for sprawling spaces such as university campuses, both inside and outside buildings.
We can transport someone from anywhere in the world onto campuses to see their facilities,” says Clews-de Castella. “We even added audio of virtual tour guides to capture not only physical spaces but the stories that live inside those spaces.”
The company also works with the National Trust of Australia and has digitized hundreds of heritage landmarks, not only for those who live far away but also for those with accessibility needs. People who use wheelchairs, for instance, can use a virtual reality headset to visit upper levels in older buildings that don’t have elevators. And while most museums have had to close their doors during the coronavirus pandemic, PHORIA has captured some of their collections using Matterport so that people can still visit online and enjoy a guided experience. With help from CAPTUR3D, Open House Melbourne - the premiere program for public-facing architecture - has over 40 iconic spaces digitized, making it the largest collection of virtual tours in Australia.
In the past using more limited technologies, it could take days or even weeks to capture some spaces and then months to process. Fortunately, now Matterport can capture and publish spaces within a matter of hours, while CAPTUR3D can deliver any supporting content like floor plans or photo retouching within 24 hours.
The past year was a tipping point in other ways as well for PHORIA. Sales of CAPTUR3D increased 350 percent. Custom floor plan sales also increased more than 200 percent, and use of the single property website template builder that real estate agents use to create websites has increased 50 percent month-over-month since its release in July 2020.
The Next Frontier
Going forward, PHORIA’s collaborative projects with Oculus, a virtual reality headset manufacturer, are especially compelling. They are working on a virtual reality nature tour that includes location-based soundscapes and particle effects like dust in the air to make the captured spaces feel alive. Currently, PHORIA is building 3D asset integration into CAPTUR3D, so clients can virtually stage their own homes with bespoke assets, or send the scans to an interior designer located anywhere. The designer will then be able to virtually decorate the space, which can then be accessible through a range of mediums, like WebXR, VR headsets, and CAPTUR3D’s ARConnect app, a platform that will allow users to see virtual staging come alive onsite through AR.
This is the next frontier of spatial data and digital twins,” Clews-de Castella says. “These can work beautifully in engineering, asset management, facility management, and the internet of things. Even when you're physically there, you’ll be able to surface new information, look through walls, and see how spaces have changed over time. We’ve only just scratched the surface of what's possible."
PHORIA is a leading Extended Reality (XR) technology studio based in Australia that specializes in Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality (VR, AR, MR). With a globally recognized team of developers, creatives, and partners, PHORIA is on a mission to transform human experiences and enhance intelligent environments. PHORIA’s flagship product, CAPTUR3D, extends the impact of 3D Virtual Tours and is used by thousands of Matterport Service Providers from around the world.
Harness cutting-edge technologies to create compelling XR experiences.
Matterport captures and renders spaces in immersive 3D, enabling PHORIA to generate highly engaging experiences and create more value for clients.