This app brings the street view effect to your apartment

This app brings the street view effect to your apartment

Google Street View is part of every holiday preparation. This is the only way to get a realistic idea of your surroundings. Especially important is the 360-degree view: it gives a first impression of the location of the holiday house or hotel.

The US company Matterport has now developed a platform that allows users to easily create digital twins from their homes or apartments. The test shows that you can already build professional 3-D views with an iPhone camera starting with the iPhone 6s model.

The effort is limited. If you want to create such a 3-D twin, you first need the app “Matterport Capture” from Apple’s AppStore. Unfortunately, there is no Android version yet. A short guide shows the first-time user how to take 360-degree shots with the iPhone.

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He must align his camera so that a circle on the display always matches the displayed circle of the view. So you turn at the recording and tilts the iPhone a bit up, sometimes down.

It is important that the user does not revolve around himself, but around the camera. So he has to imagine that the iPhone stands on a tripod and is rotated there. This is the only way to create a 360-degree shot without seeing too much of the transitions between the individual photos that are put together.

Image error only for ceiling beams

This worked very well in the test. But there are some challenges such as ceiling beams, where you later discover image errors because the composition is partly shifted. But this hardly bothers you, because you only notice this when you look up.

If you like it even more professional, you can also connect a real 360-degree camera to the app. We tried this with the Insta360 One X on a tripod. Scanning a house is much faster because you only take one shot at each location and not several that need to be put together.

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With such a camera, no image errors can be detected. The Matterport app is also compatible with the camera models Rico Theta Z1 and Theta V. These cameras can be bought for as little as 400 euros.

In order for the viewers of the recordings to be able to move through the digital twin later by clicking on white circles on the floor, several recordings have to be made. Ideally, you should take a 360-degree shot every 1.5 to two meters.

In this way, 70 shots come together in a three-storey house. However, the user then has nothing to do with the composition of the recordings. He loads his complete set in the app to the Matterport server at the end. Depending on the extent of the shots, he gets an e-mail after one to two hours that his model is ready for viewing.

Dollhouse with wow effect

This is the moment when the wow effect sets in. We showed our pictures to several test persons, all of whom were enthusiastic without exception. This begins with a kind of dollhouse model, into which the viewer literally flies.

This model can also be rotated along any axis. You have arrived in a room, you can see the white circles on the floor, where the next shot was made.

If you click on it, you can see the environment from exactly this perspective. However, one does not jump there, rather one slips there in a flowing movement. It actually seems as if you are moving through the house or apartment.

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Conclusion: Matterport makes a virtual home visit almost realistic. Although the recordings need some effort, especially with the iPhone, but with some practice it goes then nevertheless very fast. An apartment should be scanned within 30 to 60 minutes, depending on its size.

The result can then be viewed on the Matterport website after you have logged in there. Alternatively, there is another app for iPhones and iPads called “Matterport 3D Showcase” in which you can download your model for offline viewing. In this way, users can place a model on the platform for free.

If you want to save more models for viewing, however, you must complete a monthly subscription that starts at nine euros per month for five models. Only with such a subscription can links be sent or posted on social networks, so that others can also view these digital twins.

First of all, free access is sufficient to try it out. The 3-D models from Matterport do not have to be limited to your own apartment. With this technology, museum tours could also be digitized. Users can even tag individual objects so that a small information panel opens when you click on it.

This article was first published in June 2020.

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