theta360.biz used in Japan real estate industry
Although the RICOH THETA is very popular in the real estate industry, I wanted to look at high-end cameras built specifically for real estate to see if there was any business opportunity for developers that wanted to build an improved real estate virtual tour system with the THETA.
Matterport is an expensive 360 camera and cloud system that could provide ideas for developers that want to build real estate software using the RICOH THETA. Matterport pricing starts at $3,600 for the camera plus $49/month for the cloud.
The RICOH THETA SC is currently on sale at Amazon for $260. Numerous software like Roundme is available for free or at prices around $15 per tour. Software like Pano2VR costs 99 Euros one-time. There's an extensive list of software that works with THETA media here.
Why the huge difference in cost between Matterport and real estate systems based on the THETA?
Let's take a look at what Matterport offers and see if there's a business opportunity to package up a THETA-based system for the real estate market.
$3,600 Matterport Pro 3D Versus $260 THETA SC
The Matterport Pro 3D Camera doesn't list resolution specifications. I suspect that they emphasize ease of use and charge a premium for it. Other than an integrated hardware and software system, there's nothing glaringly obvious that would prevent the THETA SC from being used in this application.
Dollhouse View Versus Top-Down View
While the dollhouse view is cool to look at, I'm not sure there's that much advantage over a top-down map.
Matterport also offers top-down maps.
theta360.biz has offered a top-down view for real estate for over a year.
Matterport has a slight edge with wow factor for the dollhouse, but I think the two systems are basically equivalent in terms of usability.
Experience Inside of House
The Matterport experience is slightly better. The navigation with hotspots is nice.
In this example with Pano2VR, you can see that the experience is fairly similar to Matterport
The theta360.biz example is also very similar.
Although Matterport does have a slight edge with transitions between spheres (different rooms or areas within rooms), the experience is comparable to the experiences with the THETA. It's likely that the experience with THETA images could be improved by standardizing on the THETA with a specific tripod height and improved software.
Matterport has an advantage in measuring objects in an image. I suspect that this also helps them with creating a better tour experience.
I've heard that companies like HoloBuilder are using the THETA to calculate distances, but they haven't yet applied this to a full real estate system. Also, I don't see the measurement feature on their site right now.
Ease of Use
Although I don't have access to a Matterport system, I'm expecting that their system is easier to use. By standardizing on only one camera, cloud system, and mobile application, they're able to provide an experience closer to Apple versus the current build-your-own systems with the THETA. Fortunately, as the THETA is designed for consumer use, the camera itself is extremely easy to use with an open API based on Google's OSC API.
Watching Matterport's marketing videos, it seems that real estate agents want to use 360 tours to get into high-end house offerings. They want to present a 360 tour to a potential client to convince the client to choose them for houses over $1M or $2M.
I think there's two different THETA-based businesses to explore:
- Build a bundle of camera, hardware and cloud-based system and sell it for a set price with support. This business model is a technology integrator for existing 360 applications
- Develop software to increase ease of use for realtors
The areas where development could turn into a viable product are:
simplify virtual tour creation with the THETA SC. There needs to be a mobile app that is used to take the pictures and automatically create the tours in the cloud without manual linking. To make this feasible, you may need to standardize on the tripod height, placement instructions, and calculate dimensions.
create sales platform, not just to help sell the house, but also for the realtor to sell their services to their client