Thursday, July 30, 2020

The Future of 3D Tours

Over the last few months I have spent a lot of time exploring 3D tours created by museums and art galleries around the world (here is a list of links to museum virtual tours). A lot of these museum virtual tours were created with the Mattterport, 3D data platform.

Matterport is an easy way to capture imagery and create a 3D tour. It allows you to capture your own imagery and create what are essentially custom Street View tours from this imagery. However Matterport tours can be a little disappointing. Using a Matterport virtual tour of a museum is a little like exploring a museum on Street View. It simply allows you to navigate around a series of static photographs. It isn't really a truly immersive experience.

To create a truly immersive 3D virtual tour you need to use photogrammetry. Using photogrammetry you can reconstruct a space in 3D and then explore it from any angle. The New York Times Research & Development team has created an awe inspiring demonstration of photogrammetry in action.

In Reconstructing Journalistic Scenes in 3D you can explore a New York loft and a shanty town in Haiti in immersive 3D. In these two 3D tours you can see how photogrammetry can be used to create narrated 'scrollytelling' like tours around a 3D scene. You can also see how you can add annotations and interactive elements to objects in the scene, so that users can explore the scene for themselves.

The problem with photogrammetry is it involves a lot of work. You need to capture extensive overlapping photographic images of the location that you wish to map. You then need the photogrammetry software to stitch all these images together into a seamless 3D scene. And you need the programming skills to be able to create a useful 3D tour of your photogrammetry scene.

As you can see from the NYT's examples the results are really astonishing. The NYT's article includes a few tips on how to make the process easier and how to deliver the finished 3D scenes to different devices and different bandwidths. Even so creating tours like these still requires an incredible amount of work. For most users looking to create a 3D tour Matterport is going to be the easier and more realistic option.

1 comment:

Nick said...
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