Spatial Computing is an emerging technology that involves the total digitization of the activities of machines, people, objects and their surrounding environments so as to improve all actions and interactions in such an interconnected ecosystem.
Already, it offers us solutions such as virtual home assistants, apps for shared travel such as Uber, augmented virtual reality in video games that allows us to see directly in the living room the goblins we are fighting, but also try on clothes in digital locker rooms.
Here, these are the first applications of Spatial Computing, which in the future will allow us to work, shop and socialize as avatars in a rich, three-dimensional digital world that overlaps our own.
Spatial computing and the Metaverse
The idea of a “metaverse,” built with Spatial Computing, is no longer science fiction. Facebook has devoted an entire division to its development and has gone so far as to rebrand the company as Meta, just to make clear how much it believes in this new virtual world.
Microsoft envisions what its CEO, Satya Nadella, calls an “enterprise metaverse,” while Jensen Huang, CEO of chip maker Nvidia, wants to create “a virtual world that is our digital twin.”
Their vision of a visible alternative realm, always “connected” and always interacting with the real one, is still far from reality. Yet, fueled by technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR), the Spatial Computing revolution is already well underway.
The technological revolution behind Spatial computing
“Spatial computing integrates technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality with the real world, so we can move around and interact with the virtual and physical world at the same time,” explains Corinna Lathan, inventor who created the development company, AnthroTronix. “You can think of AR and VR as technologies. Spatial computing is a way of being in the world.”
Advances in 5G mobile broadband and smartphones are changing things, and today’s cell phones are equipped with cameras and GPS, allowing them to merge real and digital.
Their processing power and capabilities are steadily increasing; in fact, the latest smartphones are equipped with LiDAR (light detection and ranging), a remote sensing tool that is seen by many as a major breakthrough for Spatial Computing.
The real world more and more connected with the Metaverse
Driven by the pandemic, apparel bigwigs have begun to leverage AR and VR to create virtual fitting rooms, and some of them have even launched their stores into the 3D world.
But there are applications beyond retail and entertainment: Spatial Computing promises to make factories safer and more efficient and improve worker productivity because it would help us meet with colleagues who are miles away.
Already, hospital researchers are experimenting with everything from remote surgery to ways to project X-rays or scans directly onto patients. And we are just at the beginning.