Matterport, I knew I had heard of that company before. I’m moving house and the virtual tour my agent got done used Matterport to produce and host the tour of my home. Intrigued by an email, Matterport has made its 3D scanning software and devices more accessible to the public. My 9 to 5 is within the construction industry, I’m on building sites, surveying services, and taking photos and videos, so I can see my love of tech and my day job combing forces through Matterport. They have this new Axis device, it’s very reasonably priced at around £70, so I just had to take a look.

Who are Matterport, what do they do and what is the Axis?

Matterport has developed a number of products and software, and in its simplest form, it allows you to capture spaces in a 3D environment form. The products and services they provide start at the DIY level, through to professional-grade and BIM integration for us in the construction industry. 

The Axis, the motorise mount at the heart of this budget line, comes in a hard carry case with foam lining, offering a good level of protection. The mount comes in two parts, the rotary base and the phone clamp. Attach the two, then attach that to a tripod via a standard quarter-inch thread (smaller nut provided as well). 

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The mount has four green LED’s to the front, with a power button below that and a USB C port to the rear for charging. Yes, it’s a motorised mount, so it will need to be charged for the motor to rotate your camera around and take images. 

The clamp attaches to the mount by sliding it in and tightening the screw. There are measurements on the clamp, so you can adjust and note your preferred positioning. Then you can loosen the clamp, insert your smartphone and tighten it. To the very top, there is angle adjustment and during the capturing process, you’re asked to rotate up or down to provide views of the ceiling and floors. There is also a small magnetic area on the right-hand side to stick the remote control to. 

The remote control is small, the size of a £1 coin but twice the thickness. It’s battery-powered and attaches to the side of the clamp via a magnet. Once in the Matterport app, you can pair the Axis, via Bluetooth and this gives you the freedom to capture the space without you being in shot. 

The tripod provided is lightweight, which isn’t always what you want from a tripod, you want it to have a good weight to it, making it sturdy. However, the mount isn’t heavy, so I didn’t see the lightweight of it being a problem in practical terms. It folds away well, it’s very compact and you can get it inside a standard sizes backpack without an issue. 

matterport_axis_2

Now onto using the Axis and it is quite easy to use, once you know-how. There are no instructions provided in the case, just a piece of card with a QR code on it that should take you to some instructions but it doesn’t. I got a 403 error when using the QR code and it’s not the easiest website to navigate to find the Axis, when they have other products too. That being said, I did find some, I did read up on what to do for a while and then I just went headfirst into the app. When in the app, you can create a space, give it a title, address and so on. From there, you’ll go onto the model screen, where you can connect your phone to Axis via the options. You can then position the Axis in the centre of the room you want to capture, hit the ‘take photo’ button on-screen and then angle your phone so the white dot sits within the white circle, then hit scan. The Axis will take an image, automatically rotate, take another, rotate again and keep going until it can piece together a 3D model for you. There are two options for capturing, simple or complete. Simple does one single full rotation, whereas the complete option will do a full rotation, then it asks you to rotate your phone upwards to get another set of images from a different angle. It takes twice as long but does paint a better picture of the space, including the top of the walls and most of the ceiling. I mention time, which is very quick, 30 seconds at most to capture a room in my house if that. 

Within the app, you can set floors, measure things (which is roughly ok), let it know about windows or mirrors and even create floorplans from it, although that’s a premium paid option. Once you’re happy with the scan, you can then upload it to the cloud. It’s worth noting the quality of the images taken depends upon the phone you’re using with Axis. I used an iPhone 11 and it was pretty good, but a newer phone will offer a better image.

A word on the app pricing, or cloud storage I should say. Once you’ve got the Axis, you’re able to create a free account with Matterport and start using the app. The free account allows up to 2 users and 1 live project that can be stored in the cloud, shared and accessed by anyone. Moving up, you’ve got the starter (£7.99pm), Pro & Business (£55pm) and Enterprise options (quote), all of which offer a little bit more than the tier below and will depend on your needs. For example, if you are a business, the £55pm option allows up to 5 users and 25 active spaces within the cloud, plus a number of additional perks within the app like automatic face blurring discounted floorplans and so forth. If this is your business, 25 might not be enough and then you’d have to get a quote direct from Matterport for more.  

Applications for Axis? As mentioned earlier, real estate, a virtual walk-around of a property you’re selling or buying. Construction site progress, a bi-weekly or monthly snapshot of the progress that can be measured to form a contractor’s valuation submission. Or, the one that I’d use the most, surveys. I’d take the Axis to a plant room, take a snapshot, save it and then have the ability to review that space 1, 2 months or more further down the line, such an asset.

It’s quite a niche piece of kit that won’t be for everyone but if real estate or surveying properties is your thing, this could be a gamer changer for you and it’s very affordable. Three bundles are available with the cheapest costing £69 and including just the motorised mount. Add an extra £10 and get a compact tripod too, or go all-in at £119 and get a year’s subscription to Matterport.

For more info and to purchase, head over to the official Matterport website.