Here’s How Makaan Gained Ground With 3D
Makaan offered the 3D Virtual Realty Tour years back with a view to offer freedom to homeseekers hunting for the right home. It helps you understand the space-usuage in your would-be property as also visualise much before you buy under-construction homes. The attempt was also to oust the archaic 2D floor plan that’s been used for decades. Yes, you can put on an Oculus Rift and tour your next home!
Using 3DSMax and an internally-built engine called Peacock, it creates a 3D model based on a 2D floor plan and available dimensions. These details are then stored on the server, fetched locally when a browser requests them and rendered at the client end using WebGL, which is supported by all standard browsers, Bhushan says.
One important point about this is that most solutions available in the market back then were creating a perception that they are showing a 3D model. While at the core, they are actually faking it by placing different 2D images to look like 3D. There is a software called KRPano, which is used by most others.
Makaan, however, doesn’t rely on a pre-determined 3D model, but instead fetches the 3D metadata and constructs the entire 3D model in the browser itself. You can manipulate it the way you want – you can see it in a top-down “floor plan” style, or switch to an isometric “doll house” view – and point-and-click at the room you want to zoom into and go full 360-degree view.
The visualisation technique extends to real-life images too. PropTiger acquired 3D visualisation start-up 3DPhy to ensure that all the heavy work happens on the software end, minimising the requirements and training needed for capturing the images on location. Any smartphone that comes with an 8- to 12-megapixel camera can sufficiently do the task, though it has used the likes of GoPro, and the Ricoh Theta S in the past. Once the images are with the Makaan team, we work on the enhancements to refine the images, to ensure things like contrast, and brightness are normalised across the stitching process.
This work is done with a mix of popular open-source software such as the ImageMagick suite, along with algorithms developed in-house, the company applied for patents.
The real challenge as it turned out did not lie in gathering images or building models, but actually delivering the 3D content. That’s why the Makaan team then went over the 3D models and decided which parts need detail, and which ones could be left low-res. The result is a file that’s still around 3-4MB in size, so you’ll want a fast internet to take advantage of this feature.
Loading happens progressively so when you drag or swipe in a new direction, you’ll notice that things go from being pixelated to clear. But now we’re coming up with a technique wherein let’s say you have a 3BHK flat – the kitchen, bedroom, and living room get loaded gradually. Users will get a feel that different modules of the flat are getting constructed in the browser, and they will align with each other in such a way that all these different portions are slowly making up the flat.
For Makaan, it really is becoming a hygiene factor, as the company revealed that over 90 percent of visitors on a 3D-enabled page actively used the “3D virtual realty tour”, and not just the 2D floor plans.