Ironically, the original version of Everyscape’s technology, used by the first company that Oh founded, Mok3, had the type of capability that’s on Hoiem’s wish list. Mok3 built software that can use panoramic photographs to generate environments interactive enough for a game engine, and that looks much like a walk-through captured on video. (See the Infinite Corridor animation.) In search of a business model, Oh scaled back the technology to make it transfer more easily over the Internet and founded SuperTour Travel, which created interactive environments to show off high-end hotels and other travel destinations to potential customers. With Everyscape, Oh hopes to use what he learned with SuperTour to virtually reproduce the entire world.
In a business model based in part on SuperTour’s, Everyscape plans to make money by helping businesses build their interiors for a fee. Schoonmaker says that he expects shopkeepers to understand the need to virtually display their physical inventory and store layout. “That’s where all their money went,” he says. “That’s what they need to show you.” In the future, Schoonmaker hopes to add more interactive features to help businesses function virtually. Future additions might give users the ability to buy merchandise inside a store with the click of a mouse, or might add a virtual maître d’ that could help visitors make dinner reservations at a restaurant and recommend items on the menu.
Everyscape plans to launch this fall with environments for parts of San Francisco, Boston, and New York. Other future plans include adding user-controlled avatars and features for mobile devices.