12 March 2020 – Lower Hutt, New Zealand
The following is based on a conversation with a colleague based in Singapore who reports a massive increase in the use of 3D virtual walkthroughs by companies throughout Asia, as part of their efforts to protect staff from the coronavirus pandemic.
Today the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak is now classified as a pandemic. Countries and companies around the world are accelerating delay and mitigation strategies including social distancing, reducing travel, increased cleaning regimes and if you’re feeling sick – please, stay at home.
The virus outbreak brings considerable challenges for companies whose businesses rely on having people in the field, travelling from place to place and interacting with others. Overseas many firms have made the decision to cancel all non-essential travel, or where it’s possible, having staff work from home. Demand for video conferencing and chat software is skyrocketing. However there are many jobs that require a presence onsite to view, inspect, assess and report.
One mitigation some are adopting is the use of 3D virtual walkthroughs to minimize the time and presence of workers onsite. Platforms such as Matterport, as used by HomePlan NZ Ltd, can be utilized to quickly create a ‘digital twin’ of any physical environment and allow workers/inspectors to effectively be there, when they’re not.
HomePlan 3D walkthroughs utilize high-resolution (134 megapixel) 3D photography and an associated point-cloud data set that together give any user the ability to quickly navigate a property or space, measure with 99% accuracy, tag observations/issues, add 2D photos and videos, and to zoom in then export standard 2D photos – right down to if it’s a Phillips or square-drive screw head.
No specialist software is required, just a standard web browser on any mobile device, tablet or desktop PC.
While some presence onsite is still required, the aim here is to minimize the number of staff and the time spent there. A standard residential property inspection can take 2-3 hours for a property manager – this can be reduced to them spending 15 minutes onsite followed by a review of the 3D walkthrough while offsite.
For construction observation, rather than taking the consulting team around the site – the 3D walkthrough is captured then can be reviewed remotely, followed by a smaller/faster team visiting the site to focus on the key issues that were observed remotely.
We are now living in a different world, not only threatened by the new coronavirus but also by the economic ramifications that will follow. To survive we must look to innovative ways of connecting and doing business while still staying safe. 3D virtual walkthroughs provide a practical solution for people to do this.