Mar 15–18, 2020

Designing a virtual tour application with computer vision and edge computing

Josh Weisberg (Zillow Group)
5:05pm5:45pm Tuesday, March 17, 2020
Location: 210 E

Who is this presentation for?

  • Applied scientists and product managers




According to the 2018 Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report, 45% of Gen Z and 41% of millennial buyers find 3D tours or recorded video of a home very or extremely important in helping them decide on their home. However, until recently, creating a virtual tour of a home required a professional photographer or the purchase of a $2,000–$3,500 camera and investment in cloud storage subscription service. Zillow changed that with the 2019 launch of 3D Home, an AI-powered mobile platform for iOS devices that allows anyone to capture 360-degree panoramic photos of a home and easily create a 3D tour, entirely for free.

The app works by capturing 360-degree panoramic images using an iPhone camera or a 360-degree camera that integrates with the app. With an iPhone, photos are shot within the app as on-screen instructions provide guidance for capturing the best possible images. Once the entire house has been shot and photos are uploaded to Zillow, the app uses several sophisticated technologies in tandem—from computer vision to deep learning—to stitch together seamless 3D tours, enhance photos’ exposure, and select thumbnail images that best represent each room. Once complete, tours are immediately available in the “My 3D Home” dashboard to edit, share privately, or add directly to a listing on Zillow.

Josh Weisberg walks you through the technologies and work that went into democratizing the capture of rich visual data of homes and applying computer vision and machine learning to create virtual tours in residential real estate. Along the way, you’ll learn about new advancements gained by employing edge-computing techniques. Josh offers an overview of how Zillow’s newest feature (launching March 2020) will help prospective buyers and renters conceptualize a space, make faster decisions about whether or not it makes sense to tour a property in person, and begin to think about their life in that home.

Prerequisite knowledge

  • General knowledge of artificial intelligence and deep learning techniques

What you'll learn

  • Learn how Zillow Group uses computer vision and deep neural networks to give customers a better shopping experience
  • Discover the opportunities and limitations within computer vision, use cases for the technology, and challenges to overcome
  • Explore what the future holds for this technology
Photo of Josh Weisberg

Josh Weisberg

Zillow Group

Josh Weisberg is a senior director on the 3D and computer vision team for Zillow Group. Previously, he led the AI camera and computational photography team at Microsoft Research, spent several years at Apple, and was at four early-stage startups. He’s written four books on imaging and color. Josh studied digital imaging at the Rochester Institute of Technology and holds a bachelor’s of science degree from the University of San Francisco.

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