Ricoh Innovations Corporation, a subsidiary of the electronics giant that specializes in everything from computer software to cameras, has launched Ricoh Tours, a subscription-based virtual property tour and visual marketing content platform.
Launched on Wednesday, the 360-degree home tour platform costs $45 per month and will allow real estate agents to make, host and share virtual tours of homes they’re marketing for clients, Kay Iwaisako, Ricoh Tours’ Business lead, told Inman.
“We got feedback from the market showing that they want better software that it is specifically built for real estate agents,” Iwaisako told Inman. “So that’s what we did.”
Iwaisako said the company began working on the platform in 2013, after noticing its Ricoh Theta camera had grown in popularity among real estate agents and other industry professionals. The camera, which is used to capture 360-degree video footage, can be used to film the interior of homes that agents sometimes upload as part of a property’s marketing package.
The platform, said Iwaisako, was developed specifically as a way for agents, who make up a significant portion of Ricoh Theta’s current customer base, to film their own 360-degree property tours quickly, without relying on a professional photographer.
The subscription-based service includes an iOS and Android app, a management console where creators can store and share their tours, tech support and access to shareable links and analytics. While the app can be used to make virtual home tours from the photos or videos agents take on their own devices, 360-degree tours require a Ricoh Theta camera, which starts at $199.95.
“It is a marketing tool not only for sellers but also for buyers,” said Martin Shock, Ricoh Tours’ sales and marketing lead. He added that having 360-degree footage provides those searching for a home with a more complete understanding of what a property is like.
Bret Shugrue, the marketing director of Colorado’s Bogar Pilkington Group and a Keller Williams Realtor, worked with Ricoh early on to beta test the service prior to the launch.
“We are always on the lookout for cutting-edge technology that is accessible from both a cost and technological standpoint,” Shugrue told Inman, adding that his team of agents will now be able to provide 360-degree home footage for properties that would have otherwise not justified the expense of such filming.
Some agents reserve 360-degree for high-end properties and rely on professional photographers to capture them with cameras that cost thousands of dollars. But recently, we’ve seen simpler and lower-cost alternatives arrive, such as the free Zillow 3D Home app unveiled in January.
The new Ricoh service will similarly allow agents to capture 360-degree footage on their own, and Iwaisako and Shock hope that agents eventually include simple 360-degree videos for every property listing.
“[Home tours] are still too much of a luxury market,” Iwaisako said. “We think there is a very large potential for accessible 360-degree tours.”