Wired.com Maps Their Office With This Slick New 3-D Camera

Posted on March 20, 2014

Three-dimensional interactive models of indoor spaces have traditionally been expensive and labor-intensive to create. But now anybody can buy a system that can make really neat digital renderings of a house, office or art gallery for $4,500, plus a monthly subscription. And it’s incredibly easy to use.

When you’ve got your area covered, the camera uploads its data to the cloud and Matterport’s computers go to work on it, merging the shots and removing artifacts to create a 3-D model. In the app, you can swipe, tap and pinch to travel through the interior space. You can also see the floor plan in a direct overhead shot, or see the 3-D model from the outside and twirl it around in what’s called dollhouse view. It’s pretty neat. You can also view the models on your computer (after installing the viewing app), and you can see some examples on their website, such as the presidential suite at the Four Seasons hotel in Silicon Valley.

It would take about an hour to an hour and a half to map a 1,200 square foot apartment, depending on how complex the space is, says Matterport CEO Bill Brown. (By complexity, he means things like how many interior walls divide up the space.) The 3-D model includes the dimensions of each room, which could be handy for contractors or interior designers, at least for general planning purposes.

In addition to the 3-D camera and iPad data capture app, you’d also need to set up an account to be able to upload images and create 3-D models. Those will range from $50 to $150 a month, depending on how many models you want to create. (You’d also need your own iPad and tripod).

What could you do with this? Lots of stuff, according to Brown. Insurance claims adjustors could use it to document damage; hotels and real estate agents could use it to sell their space; museums could use it to create virtual tours; interior designers could use it to test out various looks. Matterport is working on cloud-based design tools that will make it easier to, say, try out different colors on the walls or move the furniture around with a few finger swipes.

We used it to map the entryway to WIRED HQ and the office of our boss, editor-in-chief Scott Dadich. Click the image below for a virtual fly-through. You can also check out the full 3-D model on your computer, but you will need to download and install Matterport’s Unity Web Player first (it only requires 360kb of space and a couple minutes to install).