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3D Video Fusion brings new interactivity to video housing tours

Quebec's Urbanimmersive launches new platform, US$11M funding round

Urbanimmersive brings a 3D, interactive home listing experience to its clients. (Courtesy Urbanimmersive)

With the use of 3D cameras and digital twin technology, Longueuil, Que.-based proptech firm Urbanimmersive (UI-X) aims to bring more texture, information and immersion to its interactive housing tours.

The company's primary offering is its 3D tour and floor plan, where 360-degree cameras on tripods scan a home room-by-room. This creates an interactive image, similar to a street-level view on Google Maps, that can be swivelled and manipulated to have far more control than a static picture.

Its latest platform, 3D Video Fusion, was launched in October and offers a number of new and enhanced interactivity features.

Founded in 2007, Urbanimmersive has 49 full-time employees and approximately 200 contracted photographers on its roster, according to CEO and co-founder Ghislain Lemire, who spoke to RENX Homes.

He said Urbanimmersive helps real estate photographers with its rapid process that incorporates several tasks typically spread out across third-party services into one platform, simplifying their workflows.

“The real estate photography business is shifting to become a high-volume business. In order to stay competitive, you need to do a lot of shoots. In order to do a lot of shoots, you need technologies. So the time to scan a house is crucial and the output you’re going to get from it is also crucial.”

Urbanimmersive needs just five minutes or less to scan a 2,000-square-foot home to create a digital twin and floor plan, an appealing feature for high-volume photographers, Lemire said.

3D Video Fusion

Its latest 3D Video Fusion offering is a 360-degree video tour of a home that allows the user to navigate with or away from the real estate agent as they describe its features. Lemire said the platform differs from typical 3D videos because it allows for free movement as the video runs.

Lemire said the idea was birthed because contemporary 3D digital twins are “boring” and do not involve the real estate agent, who can provide critical information about the listed housing.

“So, 3D Video Fusion is not only showcasing the home, but is also showcasing the agent’s expertise,” Lemire said, who described the best agents as “rock stars.” The technology is aimed at building a closer relationship to the real estate agent.

The promise of 3D Video Fusion led to a letter of engagement with Joseph Gunnar & Co., a New York investment bank, to raise almost $15 million for Urbanimmersive.

Lemire said Urbanimmersive has never raised that much in a single round (it has raised a total of over $20 million to date), and it will be its first U.S. fundraise if it is completed.

Key industry leaders, he said, see 3D Video Fusion as a “game changer,” and want to help promote and scale-up the technology.

IT is not the only service the company offers. In addition to scanning homes with a 3D camera for an interactive 3D picture, Urbanimmersive also provides 2D floor plans and marketing services.

How Urbanimmersive works

Urbanimmersive typically serves realtors who need to promote a listing on their real estate portals, websites and social media.

But the real benefactors are photographers, Lemire said. Real estate photography fees have stayed virtually the same since the founding of Urbanimmersive, he claimed, while photographers are expected to do more.

To explain, Lemire said the average real estate photographer today needs to complete four to seven shoots per day with each taking around 30 minutes. Then they rush to do editing, create the 3D tours and the floor plans.

By comparison, Urbanimmersive requires a 360-degree camera and provides a turnkey solution with 3D digital prints, floor plans and business solutions. Its offering helps scale-up real estate photography businesses, Lemire said.

Approximately three-quarters of Urbanimmersive’s clients and revenue come from real estate agents who need photography services. The remainder is from clients who subscribe to its software-as-a-service, such as independent photographers and home inspectors, according to Lemire.

Outside of residential real estate, the company has worked with commercial retail giant Alimentation Couche-Tard to generate floor plans, and has been approached by clients for crime scene investigations.

Three-fourths of the company’s revenue is from U.S. clients, and large home inspectors and prospective investors from the U.S. have been drawn to Urbanimmersive because of its latest offering, Lemire said.

Its list of clients include RE/MAX, Sotheby's International Realty, Corcoran Group and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices.

Lemire said the company’s top priority is to advance the 3D Video Fusion platform.

The firm also hopes to branch out into more business-to-consumer applications by exploring other sectors in which its 3D media technology can be used, such as sports and tourism.

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