Geo Week News

September 28, 2016

What is the biggest market for 3D tech?

A Matterport dollhouse" view of the Four Seasons' Ty Warner Penthouse."

Though 3D technology has traditionally been used in industries like surveying, mapping, mining, and oil & gas, its potential for wider adoption is huge. But I bet no one expected it to be this huge.

Matterport, which bills itself as an “immersive media technology company,” just released a statement about its growth since its founding two years ago. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the company, it sells a 3D camera that attaches to an iPad and lets users scan a real-world space in 3D. They also provide a pro-level camera that service providers can use, as well as a cloud service for putting that scan online. (Here’s a gallery of example scans.)

According to the numbers in Matterport’s statement, its service has grown by leaps and bounds in the scant two years it has been around. It has surpassed 70 million total visitors. People are using Matterport’s solution to create 22,000 virtual tours a month, with a current total of 300,000 spaces scanned. Users are regularly adding real estate listings, hotel rooms, vacation rentals, businesses, and architecture projects. Outlets like the Associated Press are using it to generate virtual reality journalism. (Sure, that piece is about real estate–but just give the media time to figure this tech out.)

Here’s Jerry Seinfeld’s apartment in Matterport:

The growth for this kind of 3D tech application is huge, and accelerating: Matterport says that visits to their spaces have doubled since March of this year. Those numbers are growing by two million visits per week.

You have to wonder—Is real estate the biggest market for 3D technologies?

It certainly looks that way. Matterport is now working with agents from seven of the top ten firms, including Keller Williams, Sotheby’s, and ReMax. They’re even in with, who raves that listings with Matterport Spaces embedded stay around for 2.5 times longer, and are twice as likely to submit a lead.

But there is another industry primed to take advance of 3D tech: publications.

Remember that publications like the AP are starting to use 3D technology to produce 3D web content—and people consume content on the web much more often than they view real-estate listings. Once VR devices like Oculus Rift and HTC’s Vive reach maturity, it’s entirely possible that we’ll see a huge uptick in journalism and content created for those platforms.

If that doesn’t convince you, think about this: YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world. People are already watching videos more than they’re reading articles, and they’re likely to bring that same kind of enthusiasm to consuming 3D or virtual reality content online. All criticisms aside (read a book, people!), that could be a huge opportunity for 3D tech.

Which means… there’s more than a passing chance that web content will someday be the biggest market for 3D technology. There could be reasons why people would rather watch a 2D video than a 3D video, but only time will tell.

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