The Future of Virtual Tours Might Be Reinventing IPIX or the Egg Lens

By
Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Stars Realty

Virtual tours have been a pretty big buzz in real estate industry for more than 15 years now.  During this time we have seen many changes relating to virtual tours and long time agents will remember some of the first larger scale virtual tour providers such as PictureWorks.  The introduction of photo stitching and the 180 degree wide panoramic photos and soon to follow 360 degree rotating views changed the real estate marketing landscape.

IPIX 360 Virtual TourThe challenge with many of the early virtual tour products was that 15 years ago most of America was still on a dial up internet connection which made viewing virtual tours a long and often painful experience.  The good news was that ISDN connections, DSL and broadband connections were just around the corner and Bamboo which later became IPIX introduced a unique 180 camera lens that enabled users to take just two photos using their lens, software and virtual tour key to create a true 360 degree rotating image.  This technology was mind blowing at the time and IPIX became a huge hit at real estate trade shows, real estate publications and it seemed that even REALTOR.com got excited about the future of IPIX.  

The next truly revolutionary product introduced was the Egg Solutions System which featured a very unique looking 360 degree camera lens.  This lens allowed you to take a single photo and once you imported the 360 degree donut shaped photo into the software you got a truly impressive single shot virtual tour image.  This system may have come slightly ahead of the market because at that point there were no ultra wide angle lens cameras available and many of the 360 degree imagines were not capturing the majoring of the room essentially cutting out the top 1/4 of the room and the bottom 1/4 leaving mainly the center image.  Another challenge with the Egg Solutions System was that many of the web browsers at that time didn't support the player without the required browser update.  

During the past couple of years I have had dozens of conversations with more than one hundred top real estate professionals about virtual tours.  In each of the conversations we shared the discussion of either the IPIX or the Egg came up.  Most agents feel that with evolution of the digital camera, the abilities of the latest browsers, the addition of high speed internet and the enhanced speeds that are available even our cell phones and mobile devices allow us the opportunity to create truly mind blowing realistic virtual tours.

Egg Solutions Lens

 

 

I still believe that the Egg Solutions System and that funky looking lens could become the hot ticket once again.  The key is adapting the Egg lens by creating an adapter ring that would fit and connect an ultra wide angle lens like the Canon DSLR 10-22 lens.  This would enhance the range of view and create a much wider viewing angle from floor to ceiling.  Having the ability to take a single 360 degree photo is very appealing and a huge time saver for agents.  If you could combine the 360 degree full view experience with the back end and reporting system from a service such as Tour Factory or Visual Tours you would have one hot product.  

I also can envision the IPIX 180 degree lens combined with an ultra wide angle DSLR 10-22 lens under a similar arrangement as I described above with the Egg Solutions System.  The one thing that I think IPIX would need to do in order to be super successful would be to dump the virtual tour key purchases in exchange for an annual subscription.  Agents simply dislike paying per tour and tend to be more attracted to the monthly or annual subscription service.  The IPIX system was once extremely popular and I believe it could become a major player once again if it could utilize an ultra wide angle 360 degree view.  

You are probably wondering why I didn't go into detail talking about other virtual tour products and there is a very straight forward explanation.  None of the other real estate specific virtual tour products have offered the uniqueness and viewing experience as the IPIX and the Egg.  I love what Real Estate Shows, Tour Factory, Visual Tours, OBEO and some of the other providers offer but in most cases they are more of a Ken Burns style slide show than what I believe we originally set out to do with a virtual tour 15 years ago.  For me the goal was simply creating 360 degree views of the interior of my listed homes and marketing these 360 tours on my website offering interested buyers a realistic feel of the home.  

Do you think we will see a higher end version of IPIX or the Egg and their unique lenses adapted with the ultra wide angle DSLR type cameras?  Do you think another vendor will take the IPIX or Egg models and plus them and take these 360 degree virtual tours to the next level?  I am interested in knowing your thoughts and where you see virtual tours headed?  Do you believe virtual tours be replaced by online video?  What is the future of virtual tours?

 

Sam Miller of RE/MAX Stars Realty Apple Valley Lake Community.  Get the newest real estate listings sent directly to your email inbox as they come on the market at Knox County Ohio MLS Listings By E-Mail

 

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Topic:
Real Estate Technology & Tools
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Tips tools and technologies for today's REALTOR
Virtual-Tours
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Comments 22 New Comment

Rainmaker
120,249
Allyson Hoffman
Making Today's Dreams Tomorrow's Reality!
RE/MAX Villager (Chicago North and North Suburbs Real Estate)

Sam, that  is definitely a great topic and interesting new idea.  But having used the IPIX system as a very early adopter (I think it was called Jutvision and then I think Bamboo -- can't remember for sure), I eventually returned to lots of quality still photos too finding that so many of the spinning tours made people's heads spin, so to speak.  Lots of distortion and long white walls turned many people off.  Much like Ira and Margaret, amongst others who have commented, I think the mutliple quality still photos allows me to be more selective about the emphasis of the marketing.  If this quality could be guaranteed in a new product, as you are suggesting, I would definitely be open, however, to revisiting these thoughts.

December 21, 2009 10:45 PM
Rainmaker
1,286,705
Sam Miller
Knox County Ohio
RE/MAX Stars Realty

Thanks everyone for all the comments.  Let me be begin by saying that I am a fan of well done video and it sounds like many who commented are also.  I agree with the comments about the old style distorted 360 virtual tours making some viewers feel dizzy.  I want to be very clear I am not talking about posting a 10 year old IPIX virtual tour today.  My blog explores the idea that these type of tours (IPIX and EGG) could be reinvented using CURRENT technology such as HD digital images from a quality DSLR, utilizing a much wider angle camera lenses, vendor improved virtual tour software and a more modern and much sharper virtual tour lens.  

 

 

 

December 21, 2009 10:55 PM
Rainer
3,091
Jill Kuchle
HUFF Realty

Hi Sam,  I agree with the others about the 360 virtual tours making folks dizzy.  I think the wave of the future is gearing up towards video.  Especially with the explosion of social media sites that enable you to put video up there.  It just seems like that is where everything is heading.  As far as the EGG is concerned - we had one and it was very hard to use - at least that was my experience with it and I felt the pictures made me feel like I was in an EGG looking out!!! 

December 27, 2009 11:36 AM
Ambassador
883,219
Lane Bailey
Realtor & Car Guy
Century 21 Results Realty

I think that using a tool like MagToo.com (you have to use it in Internet Explorer) is a good option.  It is interactive, but at the same time, technologically feasible for most agents.  And, using good technique, you can compensate for not having a wide enough lens... 

January 01, 2010 11:05 PM
Rainmaker
1,286,705
Sam Miller
Knox County Ohio
RE/MAX Stars Realty

Watch for some upcoming news and an update about this topic.  

December 22, 2011 09:36 AM
Rainmaker
1,286,705

Sam Miller

Knox County Ohio
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