#5 | News! Matterport launches Pro3 camera and new cloud
After weeks of rumours, the time had finally come yesterday: Matterport officially announced the new Pro3 camera and - to my surprise - also the launch of the new Matterport cloud platform!
First a look back
All cameras developed by Matterport have always been milestones in the Reality Capturing, so it's worth taking a quick look back at the two previous models to get started.
Die Matterport Pro1
The Pro1 was released in June 2014 and caused a wow moment worldwide by being the first system to combine 360° photography with 3D scan data into a unique immersive presentation - the so-called Matterport Showcase. This showcase still inspires today with the "often copied but never equaled" 3D Dollhouse View and the amazing Virtual Tour that feels so real it's like being there.
This is how Matterport was advertised back then (please click the image for the clip):
I imported the Matterport Pro1 in October 2015 and was probably one of the first providers in Germany at the time.
What attracted me to Matterport was the unique package offering. Because for a relatively low monthly fee of 49 USD you could add three models with up to 100 positions and host 100 models every month. And you also had access to all recorded data - photos, 4K panoramas and the 3D file of the room in OBJ format.
Additional credits were available for 19 USD and for a small model you needed 1 credit and for a large model with more than 100 scan points 2 credits. In my opinion, the disadvantages were the connection of the 3D Tour (and camera) to the Matterport Cloud, the steep price of USD 3,995 net for the Pro1 camera and the fact that the camera could basically only be used to record interiors.
Die Matterport Pro2
Three years later, on 15. June 2017, was the Pro2 released. Externally largely unchanged, this camera brought out some innovations, especially in the recording quality.
The resolution was set to around 134 MP (Megapixel) pro Panorama multiplied by 32 MP. Now you could also zoom in the tour (cool!) and you could also zoom in from these panoramas high-resolution snapshots especially for real estate customers. Pure 360° photo recordings were also made possible, the so-called 360Views, which were particularly interesting for outdoor shots.
In addition, shortly after the release of the Pro2, the Fast Scanning implemented, which halved the recording speed per scan position from approx. 60 seconds to approx. 30 seconds. A boon for the photographer and for the clients who may be present.
Let's remember (please click for the clip):
In retrospect, with the Pro2, Matterport laid the foundation for the further technical development of the platform over the last 5 years.
The scanner has remained unchanged from the Pro1, but the resolution of 134 MP in the panorama was used to finally Cortex AI to develop, i.e. the possibility to include the image information in the creation of the 3D model.
With Cortex AI, the Matterport Cloud also open to recording devices from other manufacturers - for smaller 360° cameras, but also for mobile phones and for a Laser-Scanner - the Leica BLK360. It should also be mentioned that a GPS sensor was only built into the camera as standard with the Pro2. With the Pro1 were still Inkognito-Scans possible where Matterport had no chance of figuring out where the captured object is.
Unfortunately, with the introduction of the Pro2, some contractual terms were also made worse.
First, the free 3D file was dumped in favor of the admittedly awesome one Matterpaks. Then the processing credits were only limited to small models up to 100 positions. And finally, a new contract model was introduced for all new customers, which offers free processing for all recordings, but in return has at least quintupled the ongoing hosting costs per model.
For the old customers who, with their many models, did not want or could not switch to the expensive new hosting contracts, the old contracts were kindly continued as so-called "grandfathered Classic Plans". In return, however, fairly high fees were introduced for the Matterport grandpas for every new platform innovation that had something to do with processing. And not to forget the 49 USD for the Matterpak, which was previously at least partially included in the contract was.
So it's high time to look ahead: what does the new Matterport Pro3 bring us?
Die Matterport Pro3
So yesterday, August 30, 2022, the Matterport Pro3 camera was announced. Available September 22 in the US and October 22 in Europe and more parts of the world. And to shorten the technical course a bit, I refer to the following overview for the individual technical specifications:
What's new on the Pro3?
In short - basically everything.
That Design is slimmer and the camera is significantly smaller and lighter. This was essentially achieved by going from a large battery for 8 hours of recording time to small, replaceable batteries for a maximum of 2-3 hours of recording time. For a big job you will need 3-4 batteries, but you don't have to plug the camera in late at night to continue the project or start a new project the next day. Additional batteries are available e.g. here.
The old 3-lens concept of the Pro1 and Pro2 has been swapped for a fantastic new one lens with 1 inch sensor (20 MP) swapped for 134 MP panoramas, which are now using only 4 shots to be created (in 5x HDR). So the camera only turns 4 times and as a photographer I have to move quickly behind the camera if I don't want to appear on the pictures. The rotation at the top of the Gif figure corresponds to the real situation. The Pro3 comes with a very fast recording process - under 20 seconds per scan point. And the new optics with a 1-inch sensor promise significantly improved colors and details. And more importantly, the single-lens setup should finally fix the "cornered edges" problems in the shots.
And then the most important innovation - the laser. This solves so many problems of the Pro1 and Pro2 in one fell swoop. ceiling heights of up to 25 meters should be easily feasible. Also 3D outdoor shots are then no longer a problem because the real LiDAR is not light-sensitive in contrast to the old scanners. And the 3D scan data promise significantly better detailed information and usability in professional 3D software. And the laser has a longer range, which larger distances between the scan positions are possible. You get to your destination faster.
So is everything great?
Unfortunately not yet, with the emphasis on "yet". Because in the Matterport 3D Tour shown with the release, you can clearly see that the Matterport Cloud is not yet (!) set to the new Pro3 camera. There is still a lot of room for improvement: transitions, 3D view/dollhouse and also in the colors and details there is still a lot of room for improvement.
My interim conclusion on the Pro3
This will be a great camera for pros who have mastered Matterport and know exactly how to move. Because the mistakes that you could already make in a Matterport recording with the Pro1/Pro2 will not be able to be corrected by the Pro3 either. This means that the qualifications and experience of the photographer continue to determine the quality of a model.
And to what extent the Pro3 can keep up with the Leica lasers in the construction sector will only become apparent when the first feedback from the architectural draftsmen on the Pro3 scan data arrives. And here - in the AEC area - I think it will also be decided whether the Matterport Pro3 can be a success or not.
Because for all other use cases, I can easily keep up with the combination of a Pro2 with the BLK360 and possibly with a few hand-shot pictures from a professional photo camera.
But wait a minute, was there another release yesterday?
The new Matterport Cloud Platform
The music plays in the cloud - especially with Matterport!
Let's start with the three new features: Guided Tours, Guided Tags und Matterport Views.
The Guided Tours get a great upgrade for better storytelling. Here in the gif you can already see what you can expect: headlines and explanatory texts for each item.
The mattertags get a search function and a function to jump through the showcase from day to day. It's quite successful, but there's not much left of the showcase on the mobile phone with the Matterport tag navigation. For such functions, the showcases of some overlay providers are, in my opinion, the better solution (e.g. Openhaus or MPskin).
The Matterport Views are again aimed more at large business customers and the use of Matterport for management, training and planning in companies. Matterport Views enable the definition of user groups, which can then be shown individual tour content (especially tags). This is what it looks like:
The biggest innovation was actually only mentioned in a subordinate clause.
Because the new Matterport Cloud is set up Streaming Technology. Previously, the Showcase and the 3D Dollhouse were downloaded as a package. The level of detail of the dollhouse was limited to 50,000 polygons. That is now a thing of the past, because the new Matterport Cloud streams the showcase, removing all previous limitations. In theory, the new Matterport Showcases can be any size!
That too Cortex AI Rendering, according to Matterport, should have a 5x greater range in the new Matterport Cloud, which means that the ceiling heights can also be fully captured with 360° cameras.
Of course, that goes somewhere against the Pro3 if I can also capture the full height of the ceiling with a 360 view.
Enterprise Features (June 2022 Release)
Additional features have been announced for enterprise customers, e.g. an account API, which are intended for use in large organizations. User rights are managed here. But we can already do that with our Showcase Player from MPskin.
My conclusion on the Pro3 and the new cloud
As you can see, everything is getting bigger, wider and higher at Matterport.
The Pro3 will be a fantastic 3D camera with outstanding image quality and incomparably fast scanning processes. If scanning processes have a future, then the Matterport Pro3 camera also has a future. In the short term, the Pro3 will definitely open up new possibilities and opportunities in the market. And the prospect of even larger Matterport model worlds that will open up the new cloud with streaming technology brings the Metaverse a whole lot closer. I think we'll be getting a showcase stitching tool soon, and more features to go with it, like distributed recording.
The only downside that somewhat dampens my enthusiasm is the information that my "grandfathered classic-account", which I have had since 2015, will no longer be compatible with the Pro3. This means that my grandpa contract and some of the 3D models stored in it will be tight in the foreseeable future. I very much hope that it won't be said more often here soon: