Microsoft will integrate 3D immersive imagery in its local business profiles through a partnership with imaging provider EveryScape, the companies announced today.
EveryScape's imaging product, dubbed WebScape, enables small and local businesses to offer users a virtual guided tour of its premises, allowing them to "step inside" virtually before doing so physically. "[The feature] uses EveryScape's 3D experiences of local businesses to help users answer the all-important question of whether this business is worth their time," explained David Gedye, principal program manager, Bing Maps for Microsoft Corp.
According to EveryScape, its offerings help small and local businesses reduce the "fear of failure" consumers often associate with trying new products and places, in a similar way to daily deal sites such as Groupon and Living Social. "As opposed to using deal economics to try to encourage people to try something new, we let users visit the premises virtually. It can really help to get people over that hump," said Jim Schoonmaker, EveryScape CEO. "Local search is inherently personal and subjective. The problem of where to take your boss to dinner is not easily solved by a simple list of nearby restaurants," he added.
Businesses can purchase a WebScape package starting at $35 a month for a small premises, with larger businesses paying based on the size of their property. One of the company's photographers then profiles the business, with the resulting imagery available to embed on clients' websites, and accessible through its syndication partners such as Bing and other local interest sites.
According to Schoonmaker, the firm's database currently stands at around 10,000 premises, with businesses such as hotels, restaurants, and those in the medical field finding the most use for the product. Peculiarly, dentists and chiropractors are finding particular value from the product, he said, since "there's a great deal of anxiety around those types of businesses" around issues such as cleanliness and modernity.
A month ago the company also released an application for Apple devices dubbed EveryScape Eats, which allows users in Boston, San Francisco, and SoHo, NYC, to view the interior of nearby restaurants before deciding to visit them. The company intends to rapidly expand that offering to other cities, as the range of businesses it has photographed continues to grow. Schoonmaker said the launch of a reseller program earlier this year is helping accelerate that uptake.
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March 19, 2014