Today I want to talk you about a very interesting service regarding 360 photos and 360 tours: Roundme.
Roundme Stock is an online platform that basically offers two services:
- Marketplace of 360 photos;
- Easy creation of 360 tours.
Martketplace of 360 photos
Let’s start from the first one. Imagine that you’re a professional photographer and you love doing high-quality 360-photos. Surely you would like to have a marketplace where you can sell them to people wanting to pay the right amount money for your top-notch work. Then Roundme would be the right place for you. Conversely, if you’re a person looking for high-quality 360 photos for your apps or virtual tours, you would find Roundme marketplace very interesting.
The marketplace works as you can easily imagine: the photographer uploads its photos on the portal and wait for customers to buy them. Notice that one of the best feature of this website is that all the photos are moderated by humans. This is to ensure that all the photos are high quality ones. They have to absolutely comply to these requirements:
- 8 bit JPEG or TIFF
- full spherical panorama in equirectangular projection
- minimum panorama size of 5,000 x 2,500px
Furthermore in other section of the website is also highlighted the importance of having images that are free of stitching errors and that have a nadir cap (that is: looking exactly below you you shouldn’t see the typical distorted mess that you usually see in all 360 photos, but an undistorted image or a circle with the copyright of the photo). I love this high-bar that they have set for the photos on this platform: every photo or tour that I’ve seen on this website has surprised me for its quality, really.
The customer that needs for instance to create a 360 tour, can go to Roundme, certain that he/she will only find amazing photos. He/she can go to the “Stock” section and browse the images looking for specific keywords (e.g. “sunset”). When he/she finds an image that he/she loves, he/she can download a free low-res watermarked image to test it in 360 and then, if he/she likes it, buy it.
It’s an amazing marketplace only tailored on high resolution 360 photos. So, not a generic stock photos website, but a very specific one. I love it, but there are two little problems:
- The website is ratherly new, so you can’t find a great amount of photos for each keyword you’ll look for;
- Images are really expensive. Low-res ones cost $175, medium-res cost 375$ and hi-res cost $575. I mean: $575 for a single photo!
Given the high prices, I guess that this service is targeted towards professionals and not hobbists or simple VR enthusiasts. In this, it reminds me other professional services that I’ve reviewed, like Headjack.
Easy creation of 360 tours
The other service that this website offers is easy creation and visualization of VR tours. I think I don’t have to explain you what a VR tour is, but just to make a recap: a set of 360 photos taken at a given place (e.g. a villa) with some points of interest in each photo that explain something about objects in that particular photo (e.g. an interesting point on the floor could explain why the material of that floor is so classy) and some navigation points to go from a photo to the other ones (e.g. to go from the kitchen to the living room of the villa). Virtual tours are very interesting to make people visit distant places in VR and for this way they’re used a lot in tourism and in real estate business. We’ve already seen an example of virtual tours in real estate market with the Transported app.
Roundme makes the creation of virtual tours easy. You just upload 360 photos, that maybe you’ve purchased in the section described above, and create the interesting point and the navigation points through the web editor. Since Roundme is very interested in hi-quality photos, it allows you to upload high resolutions images in your tours. Notice that you can upload every image you wish, not only images bought on the Roundme Stock section.
Once you’ve created your awesome tour, you can do the following things:
- Leave it on the Roundme portal, so that your users can view it whenever you want (you have just to give them the link);
- Embed it on your website, so that all your visitors can see it.
The viewers will be then able to enter your incredible tour, navigating the various photos. They will be offered a lot of visualization options. Three of them were the ones that I liked the most:
- Change of the projection mode: this allows for instance to view the images with the funny “LittlePlanet” projection;
- Map: if available for that particular tour, the viewer can see where those photos have been shot directly on Google Maps;
- Enter VR mode: clicking this, the screen splits in half and you can enjoy the tour from inside a VR headset. This currently work only on Cardboards, but Roundme team has told me that they plan implementing this mode even for PC VR in the future.
In my opinion, viewing is optimal on mobile phones: both in non-VR and in VR mode, the high resolution of the photos seen on a little hi-res screen of a phone makes the result very beautiful. And thanks to gyroscopes that make the point of view to rotate automatically, the magic is even better.
If you’re curious, you can go to their website and explore the tours that other people have already uploaded. Roundme has organized the best tours according to their geographical data, so that you can select any place of the world and see every tour regarding that country or that city. An amazing possibility to visit places far away from you, that you can live for free on Roundme website.
Roundme can be enjoyed for free, but to unlock all its possible features, you have to upgrade to a PRO-Account that costs 99$/year. Again, this is a professional service. With PRO, you can upload any number of images that you wish, use the panoramas at their highest resolution possible, create private tours and much more.
Indipendently from your account type, you can buy for every tour you create some dedicated features that may be useful for your particular case: for instance you can choose to remove the Roundme branding that is naturally present in each embed or create your own image as the custom map of the virtual tour (this is very interesting in the above case of the villa: instead of using the standard Google Maps mapping, you can use the villa planimetry).
The service is completely online, even if with PRO-Account you can also have offline tours on Android. But you can’t for instance export your VR tours as white-label VR apps for all platforms as you can do for instance with InstaVR.
My final judgement on Roundme is that it is a very interesting service for professionals, that lets them sell or buy 360 photos and create 360 tours. I especially loved the high quality of all the products present there. If I would ever need a 360 photo for some work, for sure I will give a look on Roundme to find it.
While the stock photos service is too expensive for hobbists, the basic virtual tour functionalities can be interesting for them too.
If you’re interested in giving it a look, go to Roundme website and start having fun! Trust me, seeing those beautiful photos is worth the click of the link :D.
(Header image by Roundme)
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