By Meghan Hall
While 3D technology has been around for some time, it is finally working its way into the mainstream commercial real estate industry as 3D tech becomes scalable and widely accessible. Platforms such as Matterport can now efficiently and accurately produce 3D models, measurements and schematics of property, greatly reducing a tenant or buyer’s need to physically evaluate a space before signing a deal. This, according to Matterport’s Chief Executive Officer RJ Pittman, has the potential to make one of the world’s largest asset classes the next form of e-commerce.
RJ, tell The Registry a little bit about 3D tech; what is it? How has it historically been used and why was Matterport inspired to adopt the technology and apply it to commercial real estate uses?
Generally speaking, 3D technology is a broad category that includes gaming, computer-aided design (CAD), animation, virtual reality, augmented reality and capture. 3D capture has historically been more limited and nascent due to the complexity of accurately reconstructing 3D from 2D imagery/photography. Traditional digital cameras and specialty capture devices have been limited in their ability to capture enough data and imagery to enable the reproduction of a 3D image or model of an object, space or building.
We introduced the category of 3D capture to the built world in 2011 and have since created a market that has revolutionized the real estate and construction industries. Our unique capture devices and image processing technology allows individuals to capture, edit and share immersive 3D models of real-world spaces that can be experienced from your computer, tablet or smartphone as if you were physically there. Matterport True3D™ models are dimensionally accurate, captured in 134MP 4K HDR resolution and contain all the 3D data necessary to work in CAD systems for customization.
Our unique camera and image processing software has made it easy for commercial real estate professionals to create 3D models of properties, accurate floor plans and interactive virtual tours to bring more clients to more spaces without ever leaving their home or office. This dramatically shortens the deal cycle for properties and provides customers with technology so powerful they can confidently make property rental and purchase decisions without physically seeing the space. Matterport True3D™ increases rental occupancy by 15 percent on average!
How did your previous experiences working for major tech companies such as Google and Apple hone your understanding of how specific technologies can impact real estate and the built environment?
Major technology companies are working constantly to strike the right balance between innovation, ease of use and scalability. There are thousands of brilliant ideas and ‘innovations’ created every day, but it’s important to determine if it can scale, meaning how relevant is this idea when it becomes available to industries at large? Those that can must be led by teams and organizations that understand what it takes fundamentally to deliver a big impact at global scale. Some other critical questions are as follows: Will it work? How well do you know your market and your customers? Customer centricity at scale is not learned, it is earned. Understanding the nature of your customers and the ability to ‘be the customer’ is essential to success. I’ve also been involved in architecture, design and property development for as long as I’ve been in technology. This has been a very real passion of mine for a very long time. This gives me an advantage in customer centricity, as I can be Matterport’s toughest critic and biggest champion, putting the customer at the center of everything we do.
How do you think the commercial and residential real estate markets will continue to change as 3D technology becomes more widely available? What impact has 3D tech and Matterport’s AI-powered image processing technology had so far? How does it help brokers showcase less expensive listings?
3D capture technology has the potential to fundamentally transform the real estate industry in the coming years. As the digital frontier pushes its way forward into the sector, more real estate transactions will occur online, and more often, sight unseen. This effectively becomes the next form of e-commerce for the largest asset class in the world. It removes friction in the decision-making process for buyers, tenants and guests, and will dramatically speed up the transaction. Today’s buyers are increasingly willing to purchase or put an offer on a home without seeing it in person. Our technology simplifies the home search and evaluation process, especially for buyers looking for property in a different city or country.
Matterport 3D models provide a powerful digital system of record for any property type, commercial or residential. The detailed 3D data allows buyers and sellers to access valuable documentation of the property that is measured down to the centimeter. This will unlock maintenance, repairs and remodels with ease, as trades across the industry can share this information.
We recently announced the launch of our new, subscription-based platform, Matterport Cloud 3.0. Our new cloud platform extends the power of our flagship Matterport Pro2 camera, while unlocking an entirely new class of entry level capture devices known as 360 cameras. Matterport harnesses the power of our AI-based image processing technology, Cortex, to transform a collection of simple 360 panoramas into Matterport True3D™ models. Cortex also has the ability to identify objects in the room and the detailed characteristics of a space, automatically choose well-composed HD photos, label specific rooms on a floor plan and construct stunning 3D models from two-dimensional images.
Cortex is a breakthrough in the 3D capture industry enabling Matterport to offer fully-immersive 3D experiences from a full range of capture devices now including low-cost sub-$400 360 cameras to our flagship Pro 2 professional cameraand beyond.
Are there any projects or properties you would like to highlight in which Matterport’s use was particularly successful? How did Matterport’s 3D modeling technology enhance the process?
Matterport’s 3D technology has successfully captured millions of spaces including stunning homes by legendary architects to one of a kind boutique hotels, iconic commercial buildings, and notable historical landmarks all over the world. This makes it especially difficult to choose just a few. A few that really demonstrate the magic of Matterport for me: Planetarium Hamburg, 29 Rooms for Refinery 29, the National Museum of Iraq (Assyrian Hall,) the Cornwall Hotel and Spa and Frank Lloyd Wright’s famed Taliesin West masterpiece. What I feel is most compelling about these special properties in 3D is that they can be visited, experienced and explored by anyone, anytime, anywhere thanks to Matterport.
How is Matterport strategically implementing and expanding its product offerings to not only increase its target audience, but remain competitive with other imaging technologies currently coming to market?
The AR/VR industry is beginning to show some forward progress within the real estate category, as the enabling core technologies make their way into the latest generation of smartphones. This aligns well with our platform strategy designed to accelerate the adoption of 3D capture for the built world by making 3D capture accessible to everyone. Today, we support 360-degree cameras such as the Ricoh Theta V and Insta360™ ONE X. And tomorrow, we will support even more cameras, powered by Cortex and its ability to create accurate fully-immersive 3D models from imagery that is captured by 2D cameras. Our integration with 360-degree cameras marks the first low-cost, entry-level solution for the creation of 3D experiences, and we’re just getting started.
We are opening up the Matterport Cloud platform to third-party developers working in the fields of real estate technology and construction, travel and hospitality and beyond to create powerful new features and functionalities for our customers.
Looking ahead, how do you see 3D technologies like Matterport evolving? Are there any industries that have yet to benefit from platforms such as Matterport?
Ease-of-use continues to be a major factor that’s both impeding and accelerating adoption depending on where you are on the development curve. Many systems today are just too complicated for everyday use, and others, like Matterport have focused on walk-up usability and instant gratification from the technology. An important ingredient in the future of 3D experiences will be measured by how effectively humanity is incorporated into the experience. The presence of human interactions within 3D experiences will be instrumental to maximizing the true power of these immersive experiences and vertical market applications.
The market for 3D experiences is still in its early years, with many use cases and markets still to be discovered. For Matterport, commercial real estate, insurance, architecture, engineering and construction (AEC), travel and hospitality and photography are the sectors where we are most active today and moving very fast. But we continue to see our technology limited only by our customers’ imaginations. The possibilities are rather open ended. Recently, our technology was used by celebrated artist, Alexa Meade, to create a “living painting.”
How does Matterport plan to use the $48 million in funding it recently raised for Matterport Cloud 3.0?
Our principle focus today centers on accelerating innovation and scaling the business globally. As the business grows, we aim to meet our customers where they are currently to help transform industries. Our newly-expanded capture ecosystem and increased focus on Matterport Cloud gives us a distinct advantage, paired with our significant leadership position in the market today. I am most excited to start working with the broader ecosystem of third-party developers, technology and business partners to establish Matterport 3D capture technology as the industry standard platform we can scale up together.
In your role as Matterport’s new CEO, where do you intend to focus the company’s growth?
We are squarely focused on driving adoption and engagement. Our principle metric of success is what we call SUM, the number of Matterport ‘Spaces Under Management.’ Our transition to a true cloud platform company, powered by SaaS subscription revenue model gives our customers the flexibility to choose the best path to 3D capture for them.
Is there anything else you would like to add that The Registry did not mention?
Matterport is currently the leading 3D capture company for the built world. We have created the only hardware, software and services solution of its kind, serving millions of properties and spaces in over 100 countries today, and we are accelerating from here. We are the only company delivering a commercially-scalable, end-to-end and true 3D experience for our customers. Our unique technology has been under development and in the market for nearly a decade. We are uniquely capable of creating a 3D model of a space as small as a single room to a commercial building of several hundred thousand square feet in size. When it comes to 3D capture for the built world, there is nothing comparable.