Creating new 3D experiences and services for real estate
Author: Kevin Rinaldi-Young
Technology is one of the driving forces behind industry progress, but often limited access and availability can stand in the way of it reaching full potential and capacity for real change. For this reason, democratising exclusive technology, as well as its deliverables, has become a way for businesses to lead their fields and have meaningful impact, transforming the way entire industries operate.
Launched in 2015, United Kingdom’s spatial data company Pupil was one of those companies with a tangible and ambitious vision on how geospatial assets could revolutionise the valuation of real estate. When Leica Geosystems unveiled the world’s smallest and easiest-to-use reality capture laser scanner in November 2016, the Leica BLK360, Pupil was presented with the perfect tool to capture 360° High Dynamic Range (HDR) spherical imagery and point cloud data within minutes. This miniaturised 3D imaging laser scanner has enabled a raft of new applications in architecture, design, construction and engineering and plays an essential part in the data Pupil delivers today.
What’s more, Pupil’s initial thesis that accurate, data-rich captures of interiors could create a new gold standard within the real estate industry has now become a reality with the use of the BLK360.
Both companies are aligned in their mission to democratise access to accurate data, which is manifested in the deliverables Pupil provide to its clients. 3D reconstruction and scene-understanding systems allow Pupil to take real-world spaces and convert them into hyper-accurate digital records. This guarantees correct measurements that assist accurate valuations and help to avoid potentially misleading real estate transactions.
Founded four years ago by James D. Marshall (CEO), Oliver Breach (COO) and David Mullett (CDO), Pupil’s aim is to capture, publish and deliver 3D information available on an industrial scale. With a team of more than 85 employees based in central London and an advisory board made up of former senior executives at companies including JPMorgan, Uber and IAC, Pupil launched its first brand, Spec, in June 2018.
Spec cross-out to build the new standard for the residential property industry by offering agents ensured and accurate assets, including:
- Professional photography
- 360° imagery
- Floor plans
- Immersive VR content
- Area measurement reports
- Condition reports.
Pupil is also currently at a beta stage with its second brand which focuses solely on the commercial property market - Stak.
Even though the residential and commercial property markets require different processes and deliverables, Spec and Stak both rely on the data collected by the BLK360 imaging laser scanner. By placing this technology in hands of a qualified team of digital surveyors, more than 3 billion points of measurement are captured each week, translating into millions of square metres in the real world. To support global consistency and transparency in data, Pupil works in partnership with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) towards setting new surveying industry standards.
Pupil’s army of digital surveyors visit and scan properties and locations across London daily. The large amounts of data experts generate is then fed through a proprietary cloud architecture and processed by a team that provides Spec’s clients with access to consumer-ready assets within 24 hours. This includes 360° imagery and an immersive experience with life-like viewings that can be accessed from a desktop computer, smartphone or the Spec mobile app from anywhere in the world.
At the touch of a button, the BLK360 captures 360° HDR spherical imagery and takes a 360,000 point per second laser scan with a +-4 millimetre accuracy at 10 metres with an overall 0.6 to 60 metre range. It's only minutes before the spherical image and laser scan are complete and available to view on the digital surveyor propriety app, before being uploaded to the cloud. “The intuitive usability and highly accurate data delivery are truly game-changing for us,” says James Hennessey, Pupil head of computer vision. “We capture everything within a property with a level of accuracy that ensures trust and confidence in our digital assets.”
Hennessey leads Pupil’s team of research engineers who work on capturing, processing and understanding the geometric data gathered by the BLK360. He and his team are responsible for creating high-fidelity 3D reconstructions, professional-grade images and applying computational photography techniques and machine learning to understand what has been captured.
Pupil designed and now deploys its own software that seamlessly combines with Leica Geosystems’ 3D imaging laser scanner. “Our current capture and data pipeline are integrated with the BLK360 and has enabled us to produce better data and faster imagery than ever before,” adds Hennessey. “For the industrial scale of our service and the mobile nature of the digital surveyor’s day, the lightweight BLK360 has truly redefined the speed and quality of our Spec and Stak captures and service.”
Pupil believes laser scanning and technology, such as the BLK360, is not only going to redefine the future of the built environment and the way properties are valued and transacted, but also deliver data that powers countless other applications in and around interior space. Devices, such as those created by Leica Geosystems, are helping to make this a reality for the real estate industry and are also disrupting and leading other industries in the right direction toward more accurate data.
“Leica Geosystems’ accurate and easy-to-use laser scanning devices are currently allowing us to offer more reliable and accurate property measurements to our customers. In the future, using this high-quality data and artificial intelligence will also allow us to offer a series of new products and experiences to them,” says Hennessey. Now, more than ever, building trust with customers is a priority for businesses like Pupil that want to stay one step ahead in a rapidly changing market and technology landscape.