3D Virtual Tour - Why, How, History, Uses

3D Virtual Tours

Why, How, History, Uses

A major problem in commercial, retail, and institutional promotion  is expressing the look and feel of a space to clients who are not able to experience it in person.  A picture, or video, does not really impart the feel of a space and can fail to show items which are important to the user.

3D Virtual Tours allow for a user to “walk” through a space at their own pace while looking in any direction they want.  This is accomplished by taking a large number of digital pictures and “stitching” them together to form panoramas.  Matterport, the company which developed the software and camera we use, has taken the linking of panoramas one step further by adding infrared measuring of distance to the camera which allows for rendering of highly accurate 3D spaces.  


The process of obtaining the data for rendering a space consists of taking “scans” every 4-8 feet throughout the space.  A scan is where the camera and tripod are placed to take a series of pictures and measurements while revolving 360°.  The space needs to be kept in a set arrangement throughout the process since each of the scans need to align with previous ones.  If the software cannot find enough points to align the scan will fail and have to be repeated in a different location.  The  process also requires that spaces be scanned in a linear fashion so that alignment can take place.  The camera cannot be moved randomly around the space and have alignment occur.  All spaces must be connected for a space to render.  Connection can be via doorways, stairs, and hallways but the connecting spaces must be scanned along with the primary spaces.

Using The Space

The finished spaces are maintained on the Matterport servers.  This enables anyone to use them through the integrated viewer.  Viewing  requires a specialized software application which is accessed when a user follows the provided link.  It is much like Youtube or other web based programs where the software to view the product is accessed through the web.  This means everyone can view the space without having to download an application.  To easily allow our client use of their spaces we provide links and embed code.  The links can be emailed or used to show the space on social media.   The links can also be added to a web page.  Embed code allows the space to be viewed within your website. For commercial, retail, or institutional projects we can place the space onto Google Street View allowing for viewing from within Google Maps.  There are several options in the Matterport space which will not show in Google maps but inclusion can be a powerful advantage in showing your space.  

What Are Mattertags™ 

Mattertags™ are clickable icons within a space.  As described on the Matterport website, “Mattertag Posts turn Spaces into a multimedia hub. They're anchored to points in the 3D model data, so you're able to add descriptions and embed almost anything - like additional photos, video, or audio files - right in your 3D Space.  This turns Spaces into a powerful tool for communicating with remote stakeholders, property buyers, prospective lessees, or global audiences.”

Cost (as of January 2019)

Our typical charges are based on square footage.  We have a base rate, $350, for up to 2500 square feet and then a per square foot charge of $0.12.  For very large spaces we will consider an hourly rate, or possibly negotiate a job rate.  Any additional services such as adding “Mattertags™” or generating a web page would be an additional cost.

Matterport Spaces vs Google Street View

Matterport spaces and Google Street View give different experiences to the user.  They each have advantages and it is probably best in most situations to consider, as we provide,  both.  Google Street View is great since so many people use Google maps and Google earth.  Google Street View tours also show up on your Google business listing.  Unfortunately some of the more advanced features of Matterport don’t transfer to Google Street View.Matterport Spaces allow for the 3D “Dollhouse” view as well as floor plans to be seen.  Matterport Spaces also allow the use of explanatory text and multimedia embedding through Mattertags™.  Another plus to Matterport is the fact that they can easily be linked to or be embedded in web sites.