In Conversation: VR/Mapping Giants Matterport
Matterport is a company at the forefront of the virtual reality curve. Established in the US in 2011, Matterport is a technology company that provides a specialist 3D camera and software platforms to create fully immersive virtual spaces. In other words, they specialise in allowing customers to quickly and easily create 3D tours & VR content of real world places, for example, residential properties, offices, museums, shops and hotels. The Matterport Pro 3D camera was launched in 2014, and they’re now active globally in 80+ countries. PhotoBite’s Simon Skinner caught up with Matterport’s James Morris-Manuel, to see what practical applications can be found to benefit the existing photography market
Simon Skinner: Hi James, please give us some history on the company, Matterport, the development of the technology, the people and the journey.
James Morris-Manuel: We’re extremely active in the UK having grown out of a proptech startup that I cofounded called Virtual Walkthrough which had developed a similar tour technology. Matterport acquired the business last year and in London, we’ve now become the EMEA hub of the business.
The technology is very state of the art. The Matterport Pro 3D Camera is the key to creating, modifying, distributing, and navigating immersive 3D and virtual reality versions of real-world spaces on web, mobile and VR devices.
It’s been an exciting journey so far. We’ve seen rapid development of tech in property and other sectors in which we work. Matterport technology itself has now captured circa half a million spaces, generating more than 150 million viewings across 80 countries.
SS: Matterport are clearly strong in the property market, what other markets do you see the company striving in?
JMM: Matterport’s system is used by thousands of camera operators in more than 80 countries across several industries. The 3D tours do work really well for the property industry, providing an ideal way to have the first viewing of a property without even leaving your chair.
However, the technology is used across a number of sectors, including apartment rentals, vacation rentals, events [helping people to find a suitable venue to hold an event], retail, hospitality and hotels, museums, architecture, engineering and construction.
The technology can be used to capture any kind of enclosed space, from a studio set of the Starship Enterprise to a Funicular Railway, impressive high end residential apartments and even museums. We’ve even seen the technology applied to multimedia storytelling, to help promote Power Rangers & Krispy Kreme, where visitors navigate a virtual environment and look for clues. The applications are potentially endless, and very exciting.
We see our role as helping photographers to expand the range of work that they can offer to their customers. The ability to deliver premium 3D tours and virtual reality technology will enable many photographers to differentiate themselves from the competition and add to their portfolio of services
SS: Matterport was exhibiting at The Photography Show this year. what are the company’s hopes in the photo sector and, particularly, what applications do you see the imaging solution offering unique points of difference to the photography market?
JMM: We see our role as helping photographers to expand the range of work that they can offer to their customers. The ability to deliver premium 3D tours and virtual reality technology will enable many photographers to differentiate themselves from the competition and add to their portfolio of services.
There are already many professional photographers in the UK, including architectural and interior photography specialists that are offering 3D scan technology to capture buildings.
SS: What can we expect to see next from Matterport in terms of technical development and market strategy?
JMM: Virtual Reality/VR is quickly becoming mainstream: the application of VR technology is no longer limited to gamers or early adopters, and the VR industry is expected to generate billions in global revenue this year. As you would expect, VR is going to be incredibly important for us going forward. Matterport already holds that largest VR library of real world spaces [500,000 spaces], and it is being added to every day.
Last year we launched our CoreVR product to start to integrate our platform with headsets, including Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR. Matterport has seen VR usage explode, clocking over 3 million pano views. Going forward, as we are a Cloud-based company we will also continue to improve and refine the software we use.
In terms of the market, we’re always keen to continue pushing the boundaries and also finding new and exciting ways to use the technology, while also ensuring that we continue to serve our core sector markets in Europe, Middle East and Africa well.
SS: Thank you, James.
To find out more about the Matterport 3D Camera, visit www.matterport.com