Pool Studio brings pared-down virtual reality to the masses
By Andrew Lisa
For pool builders who deliver presentations to customers, virtual reality is, in a word, awesome. The technology fully immerses users in a digital environment that’s so lifelike they feel that they’re actually wandering through a backyard that doesn’t yet exist.
The technology, however, is clunky and complicated, and it requires goggles, headgear and other expensive hardware.
The newest feature from the latest Pool Studio software update seems to have struck a happy medium. Called Vip3D, it delivers a full 360-degree visual experience that is far more immersive than flat 2D or even 3D renderings, but it’s much cheaper, easier and more accessible than virtual reality.
For builders who crave the power and drama of virtual reality, but without all the headaches, Vip3D is poised to be a game changer.
Scaled-Down Virtual Reality for the Common Builder
Vip3D creates lifelike presentations that allow homeowners to move up, down, left, right, forward and backward through a singular, seamless design of their project.
“Pool builders normally take screenshots of their designs so they can send artistic renderings,” says Noah Nehlich, founder of Structure Studios, which makes Pool Studio. “Now they can do it in a 360-degree view. Homeowners can now look not at just one image of the design, but every angle of the whole project, all without any unique hardware or any interaction with the pool builder.”
Users can engage the feature on a computer with a mouse or trackpad. The best experience, however, is through use on a mobile device, which translates movement in real life into movement through the on-screen virtual design.
“It’s much cooler on a phone or tablet,” Nehlich says. “As the homeowner moves his phone, he navigates through the project.”
For builders who already use Pool Studio to generate project designs, there’s literally no learning curve.
“That’s what’s so cool about it,” Nehlich says. “There’s no difference. When they create their designs, instead of taking a screenshot by hitting P for picture, they can activate the 360-degree feature with a single click.”
This is a powerful draw for business owners who might be intimidated or frustrated with prohibitively complex technology.
“With virtual reality, you need hardware,” Nehlich says. “You need a really powerful computer. There’s some setup required. With this, there’s no change. It makes it really easy, with no training or time investment, to set themselves apart from everyone else.”
Social Sharing and an Incredible Stroke of Timing
Nehlich’s team had been experimenting with virtual reality goggles for years. Through their research, they realized the potential power of 360-degree photo and video. The technology, however, was hindered by one critical drawback.
“360-degree photos and videos had been around for a while,” Nehlich says. “But it was hard to share them.”
And then something happened. Both Facebook and YouTube simultaneously enabled users to upload 360-degree photo and video, which neither platform had been able to recognize previously.
“Once Facebook and YouTube developed the ability to detect the format, it was super simple,” Nehlich says.
With the social sharing barrier out of the way, builders can now deliver presentations that are nearly as immersive as virtually reality and can be viewed on smartphones, which all of their customers have. They can share their presentations over Facebook, which all of their customers use, or they can upload them to YouTube, which all of their customers can access.
Also, builders can easily embed Vip3D presentations on their websites as part of their online portfolios for visitors to browse.
Pool Studio receives a major update every three months, but few have had such an immediate impact.
“It’s definitely the most popular feature we’ve put out in some time,” Nehlich says. “It works seamlessly. It’s really cool.”