360° – Glimpses into the Future

Work on the revitalization of the former “K.K. Telegrafen Centrale” (telegraph center) at the prestigious address of Börseplatz 1 in Vienna has already started. The old headquarters of the Austrian postal and telegraph service administration center will be turned into a luxury property with a total of 39 condos for people for whom the price doesn’t matter. As before in Graz, we helped with the digital staging of the building’s future.

 

Showing a non-existent Room

When you want to visualize real estate properties (whether interiors or exteriors), the difference between a normal photo and a depiction that gives you an actual three-dimensional impression is huge. Such a spatial representation can be achieved with spherical 360° panoramic pictures. Here’s an example:

When you then stick this picture on the inside of a sphere, so to speak, and position yourself in its center, you get the impression of actually standing in the middle of the scene. Together with your smartphone’s gyroscope which controls your viewpoint inside the panorama, your screen will become the window revealing your potential future luxury hangout.

For the most important part of the app, the beautiful content, the render-pros at FreeDimensions once again pulled out all the stops and supplied us with first-rate images of the building’s various apartments and lofts. All in all, 14 panoramic views were integrated into the app, which are presented in full-screen view after the app start.

But that’s not all! If you look at the lower end of the screen in those panoramic views, you will find a small VR icon, which lets you change over to the respective viewing mode.

3D without 3D in VR

When you’re presenting rooms that don’t yet exist, you have to first recreate them digitally. In order to turn a digital 3D scene into a photorealistic rendering, high-performance computers have to work on them for several hours. The finished product is a view of the desired scene from a certain fixed perspective. If you want to produce another picture showing the room from a different perspective, this process will have to be repeated. With this in mind, it becomes clear why a real-time 3D rendering is not (yet) possible on any smartphone (no, not even an iPhone) – and definitely not with the necessary high quality.

But we want high quality and 3D and we want to use it with our smartphones … hmm …

Luckily, you can also create depth with the spherical panoramas I showed you before. Because what do you need for depth-perception? Exactly, 2 eyes.

With this method, the screen is separated into two equal parts for the VR-mode, so that the smartphone can be inserted into a suitable VR-viewer (e.g. Google Cardboard), in order to increase the impression of depth. To create this view, a panoramic picture like the one above is used.

If you stop there, you’ve created a scene which cannot actually exist in the real world, because identical pictures are used for the left and right eye. While such a depiction is already pretty immersive, you will need an individual picture from the appropriate perspective of each eye in order to create a real and moreover realistic 3D impression. The result is what’s called a spherical stereoscopic panorama. In addition to sounding very fancy, this is nothing more that two pictures which contain separate parts for the left and right eye – either next to or on top of one another.

In the VR view, these separate parts are then used for the corresponding half of the smartphone’s screen. This makes the objects in the picture appear as though they stand out from the background, so that you think that you’re viewing the scene in 3D. If you know the trick with these old groovy-looking 3D images, you could try it on the following picture (VR view).

Stereo-Panorama

 

VR-view of the Stereo-Panorama

 

The finished app was presented live at Börseplatz 1 in Vienna, during the official project presentation.

However, it’s pretty difficult to give you an accurate impression of the experience by describing it to you here, so I recommend having a look at it yourself. The app “Börseplatz 1” will be published soon and will be available for free download via the Apple AppStore and the Google PlayStore.