WHY WE BUILT OUR PANO CHANGER
Sometimes you build something because you’ve got all the pieces there and it was the logical place to head. Other times you build something to fit a gap in the market.
MIND THE GAP
We devote most of our market research efforts to locating those specific visualization needs that aren’t being well-served. It’s pretty rare to spot a market gap that doesn’t already have a good bit of competition, but listening to clients and studying the other tools offered can help us to create a unique tool at that intersection.
We see significant interest from all markets when shopping to display all the product options or those variants available in a scene. The most common implementation is a full image changer where the entire image is replaced when selections are made. This simple tool uses an interface or menu to allow a user to choose which version of the image they want to display. Full image changers are built into most e-commerce websites. Images of a sofa in an array of colors and fabrics or a kitchen in multiple design styles may come to mind.
One of the bedrock products that we’ve offered clients for years is a visualizer. In addition to the full image changers or visualizers, sometimes these are constructed by layering a flat base image with pieces of optional versions of the same image over top. This type of changer works well on the web and is high performing because it doesn’t swap the entire image every time.
Just like the full image changer, it allows the designer to stage the scene or product exactly in the best lighting and position for the camera. It doesn’t need any special software because it loads images as quickly as the device download speed allows. Compared to other visualizers, the scenes look photorealistic but the user is somewhat limited because they can’t really get a feel for the room and look around. Lots of websites show versions of this where you can click around and see different versions of a room or a product.
GET A GOOD LOOK AROUND
When trying to get a sense of space in a multi-room setting like a home or a showroom and really look around, another common tool is the panoramic tour. This type of tour links panoramic images of a space to jump from room to room and give varying viewpoints of the same space. These can be created with 360-degree cameras, but for our team, they are created by rendering a 3D scene using a 360 camera in the software and generating an image that mimics the full view of a scene.
These tours are very effective at helping buyers get the lay of the land, but they still only show one version of the space or the objects in that space. In order to highlight features and give a richer experience than a simple walk around, these tours can include “hot spots” or links that users can click to load additional images, text, or videos with details.
TOUR AND CHANGE OPTIONS AT THE SAME TIME
The desire to not just show the space but to explore all the options available in that space is the market need that led us to explore that next step beyond a tour. Finding that many of our clients and their users wanted to do just that, we gave it a go. By rendering optional versions of the space from some or all cameras and then compiling them into a tour, we were able to create the best of both worlds — a tour with options.
This tour, the web-based tool where you can specifically change panoramic images to show optional versions, is what we call a 360° Interactive Panoramic Changer (or Pano Changer for short). In its simplest implementation, the Pano Changer shows a single viewpoint that allows the user to swing the camera around as if on a pivot, zoom into the scene to view details, and change the options in the scene by loading a different panoramic image.
The most complicated versions of these consist of multiple panoramic rooms and Pano Changers linked together allowing travel between spaces – showing multiple rooms and options for all of those rooms. This type of panoramic tour with interactive option changes can allow a user to configure an entire home to their favorite style while touring through it. Game. Changer.
AN IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE
The kind of realistic views that are found in these tours can help a new homeowner fall in love with a home before it is built or explore a new furniture line in the virtual showroom before the first piece is created. These image-based tours work well on the web and compete with higher tech real-time rendered tours that can require stronger graphics processing hardware and high-speed internet connections. As download speeds and the viewing hardware available to the average user improve, real-time rendering will become the norm. For now, these image-based changers make for a very realistic bridge technology that can help our customers display their options and package them in an immersive space to wow their clients.