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Category Archives: news

Virtual home tours get more hits

virtual home tours

Being able to search and preview homes online has revolutionized the real estate industry.

According to a recently released joint study from the National Association of Realtors and Google, “The Digital House Hunt: Consumer and Market Trends in Real Estate,” real estate-related searches on Google have grown 253 percent over the past four years.

“Increasingly, online technologies are driving offline behaviors, and home buying is no exception,” said Google’s head of real estate, Patrick Grandinetti, in a press release. “With 90 percent of homebuyers searching online during their home-buying process, the real estate industry is smart to target these people where they look for and consume information — for example through paid search, relevant websites, video environments and mobile applications,” he said.

Prospective buyers search for loan information, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, garages, heating and directions to a home, the study data revealed. They also use photos and videos of homes to help narrow down their search — this is where the virtual tour or video becomes a sought-after feature in the early stages of a home search.

The virtual tour essentially allows you to walk through a property online and decide if you would like to visit the home in person.

Roberta Lorio, licensed associate real estate broker at Houlihan Lawrence in East Fishkill, said she started using virtual tours 10 years ago when she and her husband, Vincent, began their second career as real estate agents. “We can’t live without them,” she said.

Curt Darragh of the Mid-Hudson Valley Real Estate Investors Association said: “Virtual tours started becoming common practice around 2004 when the market began to heat up. Most of them were photos linked together and put to music or narration. Next came the 360-degree virtual tour that showed an entire room — then, with the explosion of smartphones and tablets, came full video tours.”

Since their inception, the virtual tour has only gotten better and easier for agents to use, Lorio said.

Written by
Jackie DiMarzo
For the Poughkeepsie

360Cities partnering with Microsoft on Windows 8 Bing Travel app


After months of integration work, we’re pleased to announce that Microsoft is now displaying 360Cities panoramas as part of their Travel App, powered by Bing, in the new Windows 8 Release Preview launched on May 31st. There are currently over 4,300 of our stunning panoramas, each with attribution to the photographer and a link back to the panorama on  We expect to increase the number of panoramas available on the service over time.

According to Troy Batterberry, Principal Group Program Manager, “We are excited to partner with 360Cities and to integrate their beautiful panoramas into our Bing Travel app.  360Cities’ panoramas offer Windows 8 users an immersive and visual way to discover and explore destinations from all over the world.”

We’ve made a short video demo for those who haven’t yet installed the Windows 8 Release Preview:

Google unveils virtual tours of Stonehenge, Jerusalem, other ‘world wonders’


Stonehenge, Jerusalem, other ‘world wonders’


If your budget is too tight to actually stroll along the banks of the Seine or trek through Jerusalem, Google is now offering a virtual alternative — digital tours of famous sites across the world.

The World Wonders Project uses the same Street View technology that allows people to virtually navigate their neighborhoods through Google Maps, but the cameras are focused on historic and treasured sites such as Florence, Stonehenge and ancient Kyoto instead.

Although many of the images are gathered with cars that have a camera mounted on top, more difficult-to-reach spots, or publicly inaccessible sites, have been recorded on a pedestrian “trike” and other devices.

“With advancements in our camera technologies we can now go off the beaten track to photograph some of the most significant places in the world so that anyone, anywhere can explore them,” the company announced on the new website.

The project, unveiled Thursday, includes 132 famous spots in 18 countries. Historic and notable spots on the website include Shark Bay in Australia, the Golden Gate Park Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco and a smattering of sites across Europe.

The U.N. cultural agency UNESCO and the World Monuments Fund are partnering with the company to provide information about the treasured spots. Videos, photographs and interactive models also spangle the site; people can submit snapshots of the famous places for possible inclusion on the website as well.

So far, the project does not include any sites in Africa and is sparse across much of Asia and South America, an absence that annoyed some commenters, who pointed out the gap on YouTube and Twitter. Google says it hopes to continually add more sites with the help of its partner agencies.


Photosynth on your Nokia Lumia: 360° panoramas

Photosynth  360° panoramas

Published by Adam Fraser on June 7, 2012

Whenever you take a photo, you do it because you want to capture a memory. Rather than taking just a static, flat photo, why not capture everything – all 360° of it. With Microsoft’s Photosynthon your Nokia Lumia you can now create complete panoramics, in all directions, in a matter of seconds. This is a must-have.

The best way to demonstrate how this app works is to show you the results. I found some open space in London and stood in the middle of it, loaded up Photosynth, and the app started taking the photos instantly an automatically.

If you use your cursor on the image above, you can drag the image around from left to right, up and down to see the entire scene. It’s not just a photo of one subject, from one angle. It’s a more immersive experience. My rushed photo-taking has left some dark spots, so make sure you take your time with your panorama, but even with those dark spots, I’m sure you’ll agree the photo still came out really good.

When you start taking a photo with Photosynth, you’re prompted to pan the camera around its current position. As you start taking photos, an innovative capture system lets you see your progress during the capture so that you’re reminded what’s already been taken. This is powered by Photosynth’s computer vision algorithms and makes capturing a panorama very easy.

Once you’ve finished capturing that spherical-image, you’re left with a few options. You can just save it to your phone in the Pictures Hub, however the image just looks flat and distorted as it’s supposed to be viewed when stitched into a sphere. For optimum viewing, we’d recommend using the app to view your saved images.

There’s also the option of uploading the images using the free service. This is where you can store all your Photosynthed images and view them on the larger screen, as well as deciding whether to share them with the rest of the photosynth community, or not.

Photosynth on Bing Maps

If you decide to share your images in this way, there’s the added option of having your panoramic photo appear on Bing Maps for everybody in the world to see. It’s a great way to show off your local area or a famous landmark.

Alternatively, if you’d like to just share the images with your friends, you can share it to your Facebook and Twitter profile, as well as sending it via email, using the share option in the app.

Photosynth is available for the Nokia Lumia 610, Nokia Lumia 710, Nokia Lumia 800 and the Nokia Lumia 900

Have you used Photosynth? We’d like to see your photos. Feel free to share them with us using the comments section below, and tell us what you think of the app, too.


Published by Adam Fraser on June 7, 2012