Spatial computing refers to the process of using digital technology to make computers interact seamlessly in a three-dimensional world using augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR). Spatial computing uses physical space to send input and receive output from a computer.
Through spatial computing, most people no longer interact with computers as an outsider would. Instead, they get to experience what it’s like to be within the digital realm by interacting with objects that only exist in it. The concept allows the marriage of the real world and the digital landscape.
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Compared to traditional computing, which is highly two-dimensional, spatial computing allows users to go out of the box and interact with devices from behind the screen.
What Are Examples of Spatial Computing Devices?
While the concept is getting more hype lately, several spatial computing devices have been in use for quite some time now. Here are some of them:
1. VR Headsets
VR headsets are devices that allow users to experience being part of a virtual realm. They were used by gamers to interact with video game objects and characters in the past. Lately, their use has evolved to include other applications, such as training and simulation.
For several years, many companies have been improving how they develop wearable VR headsets that allow users to interact with the digital world. Some of the popular VR headsets in the market are Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Samsung Gear VR.
2. AR Glasses
AR glasses, meanwhile, allow users to go deeper into the digital realm. These devices project data and imagery and are especially useful in industrial applications. Some of the noteworthy AR glasses in the market now are Google Glass and Microsoft HoloLens.
3. Hybrid Gear
Hybrid gear uses the technology of VR, AR, and MR. This application allows the user to have an immersive experience since they can fully integrate their senses. A perfect example of such technology is FellReal’smulti-sensory mask. You can watch their Kickstart video below.
While such products are still in the development stage, they may soon become a reality with major tech companies, such as Samsung, Google, Apple, and Microsoft, funding startups to create cutting-edge hybrid gear.
Spatial Computing Features That Provide a Realistic Experience
Spatial computing uses a combination of features to embed digital images into the real world that include:
- Lights and sounds: In spatial computing, digital lighting merges with real-world lighting to complement the eye-brain system, which interprets how light infiltrates the space and bounces off objects.
- Photography: Spatial computing can accurately portray the real world by using photographs that provide exact measurements and depth of space. This process allows the realistic duplication of the environment to improve responsiveness.
- Trackers and sensors: One of the effective ways to make spatial computing work is to pick up eye movements, hand gestures, and voice commands. By using microphones and cameras, devices can respond to actions and voice commands to improve performance.
- Haptic gear: To truly immerse in the digital realm, providing sensory perception is a must. When a piece of hardware offers tactile output, the digital world becomes increasingly real and highly immersive.
Benefits of Spatial Computing Beyond Gaming
The ultimate perk of spatial computing is gaining the ability to experience digital content as if it is part of reality. It has specific benefits that we could only imagine decades ago. Now, it has become a “spatial” reality (pun intended). Below are a few examples.
- More interactive staff training: Realistic three-dimensional (3D) visualization provided by spatial computing makes employee training more interactive and engaging. It also allows workers to test a new feature, product, or service without having to wait for the development completion. That gives companies an advantage, as their employees would be well-versed about the product even before it hits the market.
- Lower product development costs: Since employees can interact with a new product or service through spatial computing, they can become familiar with it in advance. Companies can, therefore, save on costs, as they don’t have to rush to develop a final product merely for staff training.
- More accessible real estate tours: AR built into spatial computing makes virtual 3D tours doable for any property. Whether it is up for sale, under construction, or still being designed, this type of real estate tours provide prospective clients a detailed view regardless of their location. Needless to say, this capability is also relevant for interior designers, engineers, and construction contractors.
- Help retail shops cope: Lockdown policies brought on by the rising number of COVID-19 infections in 2020 have significantly affected brick-and-mortar stores. Some governments enforced reduced hours and limited occupancy, while others totally closed down nonessential shops. But spatial computing could turn things around by opening the retail shops’ virtual doors to customers. The stores’ intricate design and branding will not go to waste, as they can still be showcased in the virtual world.
Technology will continue to evolve, and further improvements to spatial computing will significantly impact our lives. For now, however, adoption is still scarce, as some find it hard to embrace the concept of spatial computing. With its potential, it is interesting to see where the technology will take us.