New technology is one of the driving forces behind industry progress, but limited access and availability can often stand in the way of that technology reaching its full potential and capacity for real change. For this reason, democratizing exclusive technology and its deliverables has become a way for businesses to lead their fields and have meaningful impact, transforming the way entire industries operate.
Launched in 2015, UK spatial data company Pupil was one of those companies with a tangible and ambitious vision on how geospatial assets could revolutionize the valuation of real estate. Leica Geosystems unveiled the world’s smallest and easiest to use reality capture tool in November 2016, the Leica BLK360, which presented the perfect solution for Pupil as it allowed them to capture 360 degree HDR spherical imagery and point cloud data within minutes. This compact 3D imaging laser scanner has enabled new applications in architecture, design, construction, and engineering and plays an essential part in the data Pupil delivers today.
Most importantly, Pupil’s initial thesis that accurate, data-rich captures of interiors could create a new gold standard within the real estate industry has now become a reality with the use of the BLK360.
Pupil and Leica Geosystems are aligned in their mission to democratize access to accurate data, which is manifested in the deliverables Pupil provides to its clients. 3D reconstruction and scene-understanding systems allow Pupil to take real-world spaces and convert them into hyper-accurate digital records. This guarantees correct measurements which assist accurate valuations and helps to avoid potentially misleading real estate transactions.
Founded four years ago by James D. Marshall (CEO), Oliver Breach (COO), and David Mullett (CDO), Pupil’s aim is to capture, publish, and deliver 3D information available on an industrial scale. With a team of over 85 employees based in central London and an advisory board made up of former senior executives at companies including JPMorgan, Uber, and IAC, the UK company launched its first brand, Spec, in June 2018.
Spec sets out to build the new standard for the residential property industry by offering agents insured and accurate assets including professional photography, 360° imagery, floor plans, immersive VR content, Area Measurement Reports, and Condition Reports. Pupil is also currently in beta with its second brand which focuses solely on the commercial property market: Stak.
Even though the residential and commercial property markets require different processes and deliverables, Spec and Stak both rely on the data collected by the BLK360 imaging laser scanner. By placing this technology in hands of a qualified team of Digital Surveyors, an occupation newly defined as RICS Property Measurers, over 3 billion points of measurement are captured each week, translating into millions of square feet in the real world. To support global consistency and transparency in data, Pupil works in partnership with the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) towards setting new surveying industry standards.
Pupil’s army of Digital Surveyors visit and scan properties and locations across London on a daily basis, and the large amounts of data are then fed through a proprietary cloud architecture and processed by a team that provides Spec’s clients with access to consumer-ready assets within 24 hours. This includes 360° imagery and an immersive VR experience with life-like viewings that can be accessed from a desktop computer, smartphone, or the Spec mobile app from anywhere in the world.
At the touch of a button, the BLK360 captures 360° HDR spherical imagery and takes a 360,000 point per second laser scan with a +-4mm accuracy at 10 metres and an overall 0.6 - 60 metre range. It's only minutes before the spherical image and laser scan are complete and available to view on the Digital Surveyor propriety app, before being uploaded to the cloud. “The intuitive usability and highly accurate data delivery is truly game-changing for us,” says Pupil Head of Computer Vision James Hennessey. “We capture everything within a property, with a level of accuracy that ensures trust and confidence in our digital assets.”
James leads Pupil’s team of Research Engineers who work on capturing, processing, and understanding the geometric data gathered by the BLK360. He and his team are responsible for creating high-fidelity 3D reconstructions, professional-grade images, and applying computational photography techniques and machine learning to understand what has been captured.
Pupil designed and now deploys its own software which seamlessly works with Leica Geosystems’ 3D laser scanner. “Our current capture and data pipeline is integrated with the BLK360 and has enabled us to produce better data and faster imagery than ever before,” adds James. “For the industrial scale of our service and the mobile nature of the digital surveyor’s day, the lightweight BLK360 has truly redefined the speed and quality of our Spec and Stak captures and service.”
Pupil believes that laser scanning and technology such as the BLK360 is not only going to redefine the future of the built environment and the way that properties are valued and transacted, but also deliver data that powers countless other applications in and around interior space. Devices such as those created by Leica Geosystems are helping to make this a reality for the real estate industry and are also disrupting and leading other industries in the right direction towards more accurate data.
“Leica’s accurate and easy-to-use laser scanning devices are currently allowing us to offer more reliable and accurate property measurements to our customers. In the future, using this high-quality data and artificial intelligence will also allow us to offer a series of new products and experiences to them”, says James. Now, more than ever, building trust with customers is a priority for businesses like Pupil that want to stay one step ahead in a rapidly changing market and technology landscape.