Technology

The 3-D virtual tour that’s catching on in Canada

'IGuides' marry 360-degree panoramas with interactive floor plans

Some Canadian brokers are embracing a homegrown 3-D virtual tour offering that may become available to American real estate agents next year.

Planitar’s “iGuides” are less immersive than some online 3-D tours offered in the U.S., but they’re relatively cheap, and easy to whip together. Another selling point: They include interactive floor plans that let users measure spaces on screen.

planitar iguide

Click above to use an iGuide.

“You’ve got that marriage of the floor plan, the panoramic models; you’ve got the ability to take on-screen measurements,” said Kevin Klages, CEO of Planitar, the provider of iGuides. “What makes ours so unique is that integration.”

Based in Kitchener, Ontario, Planitar says it’s churned out 1,500 3-D virtual tours for Canadian listings since launching in May 2013, and plans to expand to the U.S. in the spring of 2015.

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Technically, iGuides — which Planitar produces using its own proprietary camera and software — aren’t “3-D models.”

Users can’t move around a home virtually, as models built by another company, Matterport, allow them to do (Seattle-based brokerage Redfin is adding Matterport’s tours to all its listings). Instead, iGuide users sort of teleport, jumping from one photo-realistic, 360-degree panorama to another.

That type of navigation hinges on what Klages casts as a competitive advantage over other products: iGuide’s floor plans.

Planitar's Alexander Likholyot and Kevin Klages

Planitar’s Alexander Likholyot, chief technology officer (left), and Kevin Klages, CEO (right)

The floor plans show where a user is standing and directing their gaze within a 3-D visual representation. Users can click on the floor plan to jump from room to room. They also let users take exact measurements of spaces (click “measure” in the embedded tour above to try it out), helping prospective buyers understand where their furniture might go.

Klages said that feature helped one real estate agent recently seal a deal with an out-of-town buyer who wanted to purchase new furniture for a home before moving in.

“People have started to call us house porn because they sit online at night just going through houses,” Klages said.

The iGuides tours cost less than $200 a piece, and also come with a gallery of listing photos pulled from its visual representations. Klages said it takes around 40 minutes to scan a 2,000-square-foot home.

For now, Planitar provides the photographers who produce the tours, but the company plans to begin selling its camera in the spring.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story mistakenly referred to Planitar’s 3-D virtual tour product as “iTour.” The correct name is “iGuide.”