What's the difference between
each 3D Virtual Tour provider?

Make the home viewing an easy task and make your clients feel as they were
physically moving room-to-room and experience it as if they were there.

These providers can be viewed on web or mobile devices and are shareable or can be embedded on websites.

These days 3D tours are widely used for visualizing and marketing indoor spaces. They are also used to provide detailed space documentation such as floor plans and measurements.

Navigation in 3D Tours

When viewing a 360° image, a user can look all the way around and up and down. They can also zoom in and out. When it comes to navigating to another 360° image, there are a few different options available.

Source: The Listing Bees

You will never get confused, lost or disoriented in a property again. Every iGUIDE is delivered with an interactive floor plan and 360 degree panoramic visuals, giving the user full control over their experience while exploring the property. Navigation is better with an integrated floor plan because you know where you are at all times.At the beginning of the tour you have the possibility to navigate thru the floor plan or the 360° image.

Simply clicking on a floor plan can allow instant teleportation to another location across the floor, providing for a very efficient and intuitive navigation which is possible only with a computing device.

Source: Matterport

At the beginning of the tour you will see a paneo of the first room then you can select which room you want to go by the menu on the bottom or navigate thru the 360° image.

This 3D tour has a 3D dollhouse that you can see when Zoom out to see a 3D digital twin of your property from the outside and rotate it along any axis to see it from any perspective. You’ll be able to get the big picture of your space but is not very practical given the number of clicks required to enter the dollhouse mode, rotate the dollhouse, zoom in or out, and finally select a new location. It is definitely quicker than using the 360° image walking-type navigation, but certainly not as efficient as using floor plan navigation.

Source: Zillow

Navigate thru the arrows on the floor or room by room clicking on the menu gallery on the right side bar.

Without some kind of a map as a reference, it can be very difficult to make sense of a floor layout and after a couple of 360° image transitions the user can find themselves lost in space and unsure of where they are going or have been.

Images in 3D Tours

Since it is impossible to capture a 360° image with one lens and in one shot, either several lenses or several shots with a single lens, rotated each time, or a combination of both are used. Several resulting source images are then stitched together to produce a 360° image.

Source: The Listing Bees

The iGUIDE IMS-5 Camera System by Planitar features a DSLR body with a fisheye lens that is mounted in a way to avoid parallax errors when the camera is rotated into three positions to produce a 360° image.

The iGuide camera includes a time-of-flight 2D laser scanner with high accuracy and long range. The camera’s fisheye lens is calibrated for measurements and the combined 360° imagery and 2D laser point cloud data allow for not only constructing accurate floor plans, but also making measurements in 3D space without having a 3D mesh.

Due to the long range of the lidar, the iGUIDE camera needs fewer camera positions to collect the necessary data and its onsite capture speed is about the same as with 360° cameras.

Matterport’s 3D camera uses three lenses and is rotated into six positions with the resulting 18 source images stitched into one 360° image. Because of that optical setup, stitching artifacts can be visible for close-up objects in the image.

The need to collect overlapping 3D point clouds and produce a 3D mesh may require two to three times more camera positions compared to 360° cameras and the overall capture speed will, respectively, be slower. At the first glance the images have a great quality but having a camera with more than two lenses have a higher parallax errors and more stitching artifacts, that’s why you can see the distortion on some angles on the 3D virtual Tour.

The Ricoh Theta is a slim camera with two lens design which reduces, but does not completely eliminate, parallax errors, and sometimes you can see on the picture where the image merge creating some stitching artifact, that’s why you can see the distortion on some angles 

Floor Plans in 3D Tours

Without some kind of a map as a reference, it can be very difficult to make sense of a floor layout and after a couple of 360° image transitions the user can find themselves lost in space and unsure of where they are going or have been.

This is where showing a floor plan or a map alongside the 360° image is very helpful and improves the user experience, as the user’s current position and viewing direction can be displayed on the floor plan, providing constant location tracking.

Source: The Listing Bees

Simply clicking on a floor plan can allow instant teleportation to another location across the floor, providing for a very efficient and intuitive navigation which is possible only with a computing device

Floor plan or map navigation is used in very few 3D tours, notably in iGUIDE, Cupix, InsideMaps, and Google Street View. In those tours it is used in addition to 360° image navigation, giving users the option to choose how to explore the space.

 

Source: Matterport

 An 360° image navigation that attempts to simulate a real life walking experience and requires a lot of mouse clicks or “steps” to move across the floor, and can be a confusing to navigate thru at the beginning.

Source: Zillow

The Ricoh Theta do not include any measurement technology on their cameras. Nevertheless, images can be used for inferring 3D space structure and extracting floor plans, though with limited accuracy.

Measurements in 3D Tours

Without some kind of a map as a reference, it can be very difficult to make sense of a floor layout and after a couple of 360° image transitions the user can find themselves lost in space and unsure of where they are going or have been.

This is where showing a floor plan or a map alongside the 360° image is very helpful and improves the user experience, as the user’s current position and viewing direction can be displayed on the floor plan, providing constant location tracking.

Source: The Listing Bees

Lidar-based systems, such as the Leica BLK360 and the iGUIDE IMS-5 cameras use time-of-flight laser measurement and produce accurate laser point clouds – a 3D point cloud with Leica and a 2D point cloud with iGUIDE. Floor plans created from such data have the highest accuracy of all the methods described in this review, with 0.1% uncertainty for Leica and 0.5% uncertainty for iGUIDE.

Source: Matterport

Structured light is used by the Matterport 3D camera and Occipital 3D scanner that was used by GeoCV when they were involved with 3D tours. That technology collects 3D point cloud directly and floor plans can be easily produced from that data. Typical errors or uncertainty on such floor plans is around 1%.

Source: Zillow

The 3D structure of rooms can be extracted from regular and 360° images using artificial intelligence (AI) or human processing. With some independent measurement information, such as camera tripod height or ceiling height, scaled floor plans can then be produced from that 3D structure.

InsideMaps, Cupix, Zillow 3D Home, and Matterport for 360° cameras and handheld smartphone capture are the technologies where such processing is or could be used. The measurements taken on such floor plans can have up to 4-8% error or uncertainty.

Conclusion

There is a broad range of technologies that can be used for creating 3D tours all with varying degrees of accuracy, ease of use, and cost. We looked at the most popular ones in the North American marketplace and discussed their most important features.

When choosing a 3D tour technology, each particular use case may have different requirements and constraints. In the most common scenarios, speed of capture and availability of floor plan navigation would seem to be the most desirable features for a tour producer with all else being equal. In addition, according to both the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) and Zillow studies, over 80% of home buyers consider floor plans important or very important.

Understanding the public expectation that presented floor plans are a result of precise measurement and with property measurement standards requirements becoming more common in the industry, the measurement accuracy of a 3D tour technology becomes just as important as capture speed.

Sources:

  • iGuide (June2018). Matterport alternative: iGuide Comparison. iGuide : https://goiguide.com/matterport-alternative
  • iGuide (November, 2019). What is iGude? 3D Tour, Floor Plans, and more. iGuide: https://goiguide.com/showcase
  • Likholyot A. (October, 2019) State of 3D Tour Technology. iGuide: https://goiguide.com/3d-tour-technology
  • Matterport. Matterport 3D & 360 Camera Range. Matterport: https://matterport.com/cameras
  • Zillow. 3D Home Virtual Tours for real. Zillow: https://www.zillow.com/marketing/rental-manager/3d-home-landlord/
  • Zillow. How to make a virtual tour for real estate. Zillow: https://www.zillow.com/sellers-guide/how-to-make-a-virtual-tour-for-real-estate/