Of all of the technology applications that will have a profound impact on the real estate industry, I Believe that virtual reality will be the most significant. I can see so many applications in almost every aspect of the sector... from showings to marketing to architecture and design. There is no doubt in my mind that VR will soon be something that touches all facets of the industry!
One of the companies I have had my eye on and have really been paying attention to is Matterport. They are crushing it!. And beside the obvious leading edge technology that they provide, they are also a very responsive and market-driven company which is always something I personally take note of and appreciate.
I had the chance to chat with Marc Rehberger of Matterport who shared some of their new initiatives (specifically their new product CoreVR) and provided an overview of the company and the sector.
Michael: Can you tell me about CoreVR?
Marc: CoreVR is a breakthrough automation process which has allowed Matterport customers to automatically generate virtual reality versions of their Matterport 3D Spaces. Now, every Matterport customer can capture real-world places and share them in VR using the same Matterport system they already have.
Michael: How did the company go about building this really innovative product?
Marc: Matterport’s mission is to give people the freedom to experience real world places as if they were there, from anywhere. It’s the future. Our team of VR specialists spent the past year optimizing the steps involved in making a space available in VR, eliminating all manual post-production steps while still ensuring a great experience. We developed a vision and path planning algorithm that would account for line of sight visibility while also making it easier to navigate through a Space in VR. Additionally, we developed mechanisms for contextual use of depth and occlusion data to provide the feeling of being there through our intelligent gaze cursor, something which cannot be replicated easily on other platforms. We also developed methods for auto-optimizing the VR experience based on the capability of a user’s VR hardware. Finally, we made it extremely simple for content creators to give their users access to the VR version of their Spaces without applying any additional effort. CoreVR reflects Matterport’s ethos of simplicity with quality.
Michael: What are your goals and expectations with CoreVR? How do you hope people will use it?
Marc: Today there’s a vacuum of VR content out there. We knew we could seriously jumpstart the VR ecosystem by VR-enabling over 250k of our Spaces. We also decided to do it for free and will continue to generate VR Spaces for free until December 31, 2016. We see real estate agents keeping a Gear VR headset at the office or to take to meetings at the client’s home. We also see agents sending Google Cardboard to potential buyers abroad with a simple QR code that they can use with their smartphone to tour homes on the spot.
Michael: Can you give an overview of Matterport?
Marc: Matterport is an immersive media technology company that builds 3D and VR media solutions that power industries from real estate to entertainment, and everywhere in between. Our team has built the first end-to-end media platform that allows users to easily create, modify, navigate, and build on digital representations of real places. Founded in 2011, Matterport is building our founders’ vision of creating a complete virtual model of the world that changes the way individuals and industries interact with physical spaces.
Michael: I am a huge fan of VR and your platform. Where do you think both the residential and commercial industries are in terms of adopting and engaging VR into their business?
Marc: Residential real estate agents and brokerages are eager to differentiate themselves with Matterport VR, but some are still early in the adoption process. Most tech-forward agents are already busy setting up their VR Collections in our app. All you need to do to get started is, buy a Samsung Gear VR headset or Google Cardboard. We expect an even larger commitment to VR when we launch support for iOS devices later this year.
As you know, commercial brokerages are a bit slower to adopt new technology, traditionally CRE trails residential in all things tech. As a result, we anticipated a pretty long ramp up cycle, but to our surprise the cycle has been much quicker! We have active pilots with almost all the top 10 brokerage organizations. We have deployed cameras across the CRE ecosystem, from brokerage, ownership, tenants, co-working, retail etc. For example, JLL has been one of the most aggressive in the space They are testing many different ways to produce a large number of commercial real estate spaces in 3D, and with that comes instant VR as well since Matterport is VR-enabling all models for free through the end of the year.
Short answer, we are still in the early phases of adoption for both commercial and residential real estate alike. Our customers are using Matterport 3D & VR as a 24/7 open house.
Michael: What’s next for Matterport?
Marc: We know VR is the next big advance to mobile marketing. With over 6 million Gear VR and Google Cardboard headsets already in the market, smartphone vendors are working to optimize next-generation phones specifically for VR. We expect to see a much improved resolution along with framerate, and the introduction of low-latency motion tracking via high end inertial measurement units (IMUs) to ensure quality VR experiences with little or no user discomfort. As VR demand continues to grow, Matterport will continue to improve our software for a better user experience.
Marc is a 20 year commercial real estate veteran that has been part of companies like GE Capital Real Estate and Costar. Marc joined Matterport to bring their technology to the CRE industry. When not talking tech and CRE, Marc is active with his family in scouts and sports.