The other day I blogged that we're looking for applications that use Amazon Web Services, and that were developed on the other side of the Atlantic... Had some interesting replies; and want to tell you about one of them.
Metropix is based in England, and is the leading supplier of floor plans to the UK real estate industry. They've built a server-based engine that converts 2D floor plans into 3D views of homes and other buildings. Of course, the interior as rendered makes a few assumptions regarding decorating and furnishing, but the point of doing this is to help people understand the space that might be their new home, and offer them a glimpse without having to visit the property.
Max Christian is technical director for MetroPix, and emailed me the following validation of the hard work our product team put into building the Amazon S3 web service platform.
"We're in production and have around 17,000 users in any one week. As well as basic floor plans, we use S3 to host 3D floor plans and are starting to use it to store Google Earth KMZ files of 3D models of houses for sale. "
"The company started in 2004 and as the customer base grew we responded by adding additional web servers. Although using additional servers to cope with demand was reasonably straightforward, the storage needed for the thousands of 3D Floor Plans and 3D Walkthroughs hosted on each server was also growing rapidly. It became increasingly impractical to keep expanding the storage capacity of the web servers, which was consuming valuable technical resources that could be better spent on product development. In early 2007 we switched to Amazon's S3 service for storage, shuttling images and video backwards and forwards between S3 and our servers so that only recently-demanded content need be kept locally. This proved so successful, and so reliable, that in March 2007 we went one step further and are now serving floor plans directly from S3 to all major UK real estate portals. As well as vastly improving the scalability of our systems, S3 is already saving us over a thousand pounds a month, as Amazon's data transfer charges are 5% of what we paid previously and have proved to be just as reliable."
Max pointed me to a KMZ file for a house that's for sale in Southern England. After downloading the 12 MB file, Google Earth did its usual zoom in to the location of the house, and then rendered the building. As you can see below, I was able to check and uncheck "layers" to add and remove floors in the building. Really neat way to bring a 2D floor plan to life!
Initially both floors were displayed, showing a 3D rendition of the interior of this home.
By unclicking the upper floor layer, the ground floor was revealed
Sounds like entire towns might be next -- evidence that content is still king on the Net.