What advantage do 3D tours offer over 360 tours?

As certain innovative technologies become more popular and their uses more widespread, it can often get confusing with the terminology used, particularly with very similar products.

‘Virtual tours’ are no different.

If you are familiar with the term ‘virtual tour’, you may have seen it with ‘360’ or ‘3D’ in front of it.

But what are 360 tours and 3D tours and how do they differ from one another? How do I know which one would be better for my business?

What are 360 Virtual Tours?

360 tours are comparable to a panoramic photo slideshow.

It is made up of numerous panoramic images captured with a 360˚ enabled camera, ‘stitched’ together to enable a basic walkthrough of the captured environment.

virtual tours of living room with sofa and tv in view

When the user clicks the images or the navigation prompts, they are taken from image to image, getting a 360-degree view of the space.

The most well-known use of 360˚ imagery for a similar purpose is Google Street View.

What Are 3D Virtual Tours?

3D tours take the same type of panoramic image captured for 360˚ tours and combines them with 3D data.

Using LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) laser scanning and point cloud data, 3D tour software such as Matterport captures and converts real-world space into a virtual environment with pinpoint accuracy in detail and scale.

This 3D model – or ‘digital twin’ – can be viewed in the ‘dollhouse’ or floor plan view, along with the traditional walkthrough feature which maintains complete continuity throughout the whole virtual space.

3D tours are also optimised to be viewed through virtual reality headsets, which truly completes a user’s immersion within the virtual environment.

Whats the Difference?

Both 3D and 360 tours utilise high definition 360-degree photography.

However, 3D tours merge 2D photography with 3D data, making for a far more immersive experience.

This helps viewers to feel as if they are really there, forming an emotional connection to the space due to the accuracy in detail and scale


3D tours have a much broader range of applications than 360 tours. The 3D data collected from laser scanner in camera means 3D tours have a multitude of wider uses.

While 360 tours are mainly used for marketing and showcasing purposes, the use cases of 3D tours stretch from immersive employee training to CAD modelling in construction.

In addition, many of the additional enhancement features enabled within the tour interface provide an elevated experience for the user.

Features & Functionalities

You can also get far more added functionalities from a 3D virtual tour.

While the additional features and functionalities beyond 360 panoramic display are limited on a 360 tour, 3D tours have features within the standard ‘Matterport’ offering such as digital ‘tags’ to label objects and rooms, and the option to convert the 3D ‘scan’ data into schematic floor plans with precise measurements.

If you were looking to take things a step further than Matterport, alternative platforms enable additional features to be embedded within the tour interface, such as custom media, branding, booking systems, a mini map, and more.

360 tours of garden area with tables and chairs

This brings a new dimension to 3D tours: rather than just a marketing tool built to showcase a property, the ‘digital twin’ becomes a complex branding powerhouse and a hub for lead generation, guest experience, health and safety info and staff training.

Which Would be Best for My Business?

Ultimately, what you are looking to use your ‘virtual tour’ for determines which type of tour will work best for you.

Thought 360 tours may be limited in terms of their broader applications, if you are looking to market a property so it will stand out among others using regular photography and videos, then a 360 tour is ideal.

However, if you are looking to create more of an emotional experience, 3D is the way to go.

360 tours are one step up from regular photos and videos. 3D tours are one step down from actually being present in the captured space.

If you would like to discuss how an enhanced 3D tour could benefit your business, get in touch today.