AI spatial computing

Real estate juggernaut Zillow has announced that their 3D Home app now uses AI to generate 3D home tours and interactive floor plans from panoramic images. It supports 360° cameras like Ricoh’s Theta line, and the iPhone 7 and newer.

The app also goes further than 3D tours, automatically extracting square footage and the location of the listing photos. Zillow says this will help bridge the gap between these “listing media” and the text-based “listing data.”

Improved “for sale by owner” listings

According to the company, data shows that buyers love 3D tours. A home with a 3D tour sells 10% faster, on average, than those without.

If you are a private individual looking to sell your own home without an agent, there aren’t many attractive options. Laser scanners are very expensive and require a lot of training. Laser distos and tape measurement require a lot of time. While Matterport offers a similar tool called Cortex AI, which generates 3D models from 360° images, the company caters more to businesses than individual sellers. And, crucially, their service is not free, which makes it much less enticing if you only need to generate one model.

Here’s where Zillow comes in. The company says the 3D Home app will make it free for anyone to add a 3D tour to their listing, and require no more technology than the iPhone in their pocket (and maybe a sub-$400 360° camera).

Real(ty) caveats

Since Zillow uses their own 3D Home app to process the data, the models will likely be locked into their platform. That might not be a problem for people who want to list their home but don’t really care to use their new 3D model for any other applications. If you were hoping to capture your home for renovation, or to try out new furniture virtually, you should look elsewhere. The walled approach also makes it unlikely that realtors will adopt the service, since a realtor would much rather people go to their realty web page than a listing service like Zillow, Redfin, etc..

As a result, it looks like the tool will see widest adoption among those who want to sell their home and cut real estate agents out of the process.