Using 360° Photos To Enhance Your Deliverables - Volume 1

By Samantha Wyant | HDLS Manager

At Hale Technology in Practice, our mission is to empower design and construction firms to adopt technology that will enhance productivity and collaboration. In this multi-part series, we will explore 360° photos, cameras, and technology. In Volume 1, we will discuss the difference between still and 360° images, learn how 360° cameras work, explore hardware options, and list some construction specific applications of 360° photos and video. Next week, Volume 2 will investigate the applications for 360° photo and video more in-depth and discuss ways to view and share your photos with your existing software. Finally, in Volume 3, come back to learn about automated software and apps that are currently available including their uses, strengths and weaknesses, and cost-effectiveness.

Why 360°?

Traditional still photos provide little context and insight for the people trying to interpret them. The perspective of the photos can easily warp objects and make still photos even harder to understand. In order to provide context and accurately document an entire area, multiple photos are required, and that can add up quickly. Conversely, 360° photos can document an entire area or room with one photo and are easy to navigate and understand. Now that the cameras are more affordable than ever, and with new software and apps for this technology flooding the market, implementing 360° photo and/or video on your construction site has never been easier.

                                                  Still Photo    vs.   360° photo  (click for viewer)

                                                  Still Photo    vs.   360° photo (click for viewer)

How does it work?

360° cameras are composed of two or more cameras, often wide-angle or “fish-eye” lenses. To capture an image, a photo is taken simultaneously with each lens and then stitched together to create a seamless 360° photo. These photos can then be viewed as a photosphere, or interactive 360° image of the space photographed. You can see some examples of 360° photos here.

Affordable 360° Camera Options:

There are currently multiple, affordable 360° camera options on the market, way more than we have room to list. For the casual user, phone add-ons such as the Insta360 Nano for the iPhone or the Giroptic iO for iPhone or android can be purchased for around $150. For a Samsung aficionado, one could shell out around $175 for the 2017 Edition Samsung Gear 360, which is compatible with Samsung phones and the Samsung Gear VR Headset. Or for those looking for inexpensive home solutions can expect to pay anywhere from $80 for an OUTERDO Sports Camera to $300 for a Mi Sphere Camera Kit.

However, if you’re serious about using a 360° camera to enhance your construction deliverables, the Ricoh Theta Camera has quickly emerged as the industry leader for this technology. With three options varying in function, price, and resolution, you can find exactly what you need in a Ricoh Theta. The Theta SC costs around $200 and takes 12MP pictures and high definition video. The Theta S will run you about $350 and takes 12MP pictures, high definition video, and has high definition live streaming capabilities. Finally, for the best quality and most functionality, the Theta V retails at $400 and includes 4k video and spatial audio. The Theta V also boasts a higher definition live streaming resolution and more internal memory. All of the Theta options are easy to use and can be synced with your iPhone or android through their app.

Ricoh Theta.jpg

Construction Site Applications:

360° photo and video can be used to quickly and accurately document construction progress, issues, walk-throughs, and existing conditions. In addition, depending on what software you use, there is the capability to create 360° virtual tours of any space. In the near future, 360° photos could be used to create 3D point clouds or 3D meshes, and photospheres could potentially be measurable.  We'll explore this more in the next post.  

Tune in next week for an exploration of applications for 360° photos and available software!

Future Posts:

How to integrate with your current software

How to integrate with automated software, pros and cons