360 Virtual Tours vs. 3D Digital Twins for Ships & Yachts

By now, most people have had the chance to use a “virtual tour” of a house or know they exist. While these virtual tours are somewhat engaging, either through a simple slideshow of 2D flat photos or a linked group of 360 degree panos, they can be disorienting and don’t always create an immersive feeling.

In an era where remote everything is becoming possible, we need to look for tools that allow vessel buyers, managers, and inspectors to experience the ship before stepping onboard. Digital Twins have the upper hand for remote access to vessels. 

By building on virtual tour technology, Digital Twins take photography data a step further by overlaying photographs on a 3D mesh of the ship’s geometry, thus allowing users to take measurements and feel immersed as they move through the 3D Model. The 3D dimensional data orients the user and reduces the “nausea effect” sometimes created by virtual tours. 

How is this done?

The two main methods of capturing 3D data are photogrammetry and/or the use of sensors (typically LIDAR scanners) to SLAM the vessel’s geometry.

  • Photogrammetry – The science of making measurements from photography.
  • Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) –  A method of determining distance by projecting a laser onto an object and measuring the time for the reflected light to return to the receiver.
  • Simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) – A computational method of constructing or updating a map of an unknown environment while locating the devises position within the environment. 

These technologies are coming together at the right time, when remote work is more necessary than ever, to enable the creation of Digital Twins.

This combination of technology is what allowed Google Earth to map most of the planet in a relatively short amount of time. Below is a video that does an excellent job of explaining Google’s application of photogrammetry:

In conclusion, the technology that enabled virtual tours (360 cameras) has been combined with photogrammetry, LIDAR, and SLAM technology to create 3D Digital Twins. These Digital Twins allow for measurements and a user experience that is far superior to simple virtual tours.

To learn more about Digital Twins of ships and how they can change how your team markets and manage your vessels, please send us a message, and we would be happy to meet with your team.

Try a 3D Digital Twin of an OSV below: