Modern technology has come a long way, and it has evolved by leaps and bounces. Spatial computing is a modern technology that has the potential to change the way we interact with the digital world.
Although not entirely new, this technology has gained its due recognition in the past few years as mobile devices, applications, smart wearables, GPS, etc., have become more popular among users.
Also, the widespread adoption of VR, IoT, and AR devices and apps has made spatial computing reach new heights.
Spatial computing has simplified many things by seamlessly blending with the physical space.
In this article, I’ll discuss spatial computing in detail and explore its benefits, challenges, applications, and more.
What Is Spatial Computing?
Spatial computation is a concept that tells you about how people and technology interact with each other. It describes the interaction in a virtual space without requiring the presence of a physical system.
Furthermore, you can think of spatial computing as a user interface for humans to interact with systems. Here, computer-generated objects are virtually immersed into the interface, looking like the real world, enabling humans to perform functions in real-time, like sending inputs, giving commands, etc.
This process works in a 3D environment, utilizing digital technologies such as mixed reality, virtual reality, extended reality, and augmented reality. In addition, computer vision, AI, and sensors play a crucial role, allowing computers to collect data and recognize objects as well as languages.
In spatial computing, all the immersive technologies are blended in such a way that it helps in creating a virtual reality where it immerses you in the device. It means you won’t have to interact with the system anymore physically; rather, you would get to experience the feeling of being present in the digital world using your hand gesture or vision.
The basic principle of spatial computing lies in audio-visual technology, which utilizes different aspects of audio and visuals. In simple terms, audio and visual define the alignment of audio with optical components.
The arrival of Apple’s latest Vision Pro headset gave a massive boost to this technology as it simplified the way digital content blends with physical space and provides a new experience.
Benefits of Spatial Computing
Spatial computing offers many advantages to individuals and business users.
It provides them with the tools and information required to perform a variety of tasks. Through interactive mediums, users can accomplish tasks with more accuracy and speed. Thus, users’ productivity can improve substantially, which helps an organization grow.
Better Product Understanding and Creativity
With spatial computing, organizations can create digital content for their product or service. This will help their employees better understand the product and services that an organization offers and also work with them with ease.
Moreover, spatial computing provides a huge space for organizations to be more creative with products or services that weren’t previously possible.
Lower Development Cost
Spatial computing has helped many organizations create virtual samples of products. Previously manufacturers had to develop different samples of their products for the purpose of testing or training employees and users.
This process incurred significant costs. You need to create a testing sample and environment, employ testers, analyze how it performs, and then make necessary adjustments. All this requires investment. In addition, training employees and users also add cost.
However, using this technology, you can reduce these costs by creating virtual samples of the products and services, which will be used for testing. Thus, making adjustments won’t be that costly as you don’t have to create the product again.
The capabilities of spatial computing are helping brands develop their services and products with more safety.
Example: It provides users with real-time information about their surroundings, especially car drivers, so that they don’t face hazardous moments. Many car manufacturers are utilizing AR, MR, and other aspects of spatial computing to make features that prevent drivers from any mishap automatically.
This technology has paved the path for interactive learning and allowed students to interact with environments and virtual objects. It has made learning much more engaging and allowed students to have a real-time experience of learning. Through VR, a student can explore more about a scientific concept by performing them virtually and experiencing it by themselves.
Better Customer Experience
Spatial computing enables organizations to provide better customer experience by generating interactive and 360-degree previews of their products or services.
Any customer can try the products and get a good overview of how the product or service looks and works. For example, many spectacle manufacturers allow users to try the frame through AR, which improves decision-making.
Popular Applications of Spatial Computing
Spatial computing has spread its wings in almost every industry. Let’s take a look at some of its popular applications.
#1. Self Driving
Spatial computing has revolutionized the way users interact with many physical items. Self-driving is one of the major applications of spatial computing that moves on the roads while assessing the surroundings and responding to outer stimuli.
The healthcare sector has many applications of spatial computing, and it has eased out the processes for many operations. ProjectDR is a prominent application that allows doctors to project a diagnostic image onto the patient’s skin surface. It automatically captures all the required data to provide an accurate output.
There are many applications that allow doctors to determine how medical equipment will work on certain patients and what the output will be. It has helped many organizations to create virtual training models for students so that they can learn and practice on those virtual models.
Spatial computing has many valuable applications in the manufacturing division. It has increased productivity, safety, and manufacturing speed by introducing AR. Workers using AR interfaces can accurately project how a robotic arm in a manufacturing plant would work.
In addition, spatial computing has also enhanced the efficiency of warehouse workflow and reduced the issue of worker burnout by a large margin. It also helps in monitoring the production line in a manufacturing facility and determining which and when different teams might perform tasks during their shift.
Reputed banks like Bank of America are trying to leverage AR and VR to allow users to interact with charts in a 3D environment. This helps the end users get a better idea about their accounts and make informed decisions.
In the construction industry, working on projects could be made easy through the combination of AR and VR, especially in offices.
Engineers have found different ways to utilize spatial computing in offices. Environmental controls and lighting could be automated by using spatial computing that would help in adjusting lights and temperature in the office to ensure maximum comfort.
#6. E-Commerce Platforms
E-commerce platforms have largely benefited from spatial computation as this technology has eased up the shopping experience. Using augmented reality, many applications have allowed customers to try apparel, jewelry, spectacles, and other products on themselves and find out how they look.
Some e-commerce platforms have integrated AR in such a way that it has enabled users to place certain products virtually in their homes and find out how they fit.
#7. Lead Generation
Many organizations have been able to utilize spatial computing to generate leads. This technology has allowed organizations to make users aware of their brand or product in an interactive way.
Some organizations even enable users to take a virtual tour of their production lineup or headquarters through VR. VR headset is now allowing organizations to test new products that can be interacted with by users or testers in a way that they are real.
Challenges of Spatial Computing
Although spatial computing offers many benefits, it also comes with many challenges, including:
Huge upfront cost: Implementation of spatial computing is not a piece of cake for every brand as it requires specialized hardware and software that is quite expensive. Thus, it limits many brands from adopting it in their business infrastructure. Till now, only a few large brands have been able to implement and deploy spatial computation in their infrastructure successfully.
Privacy and security issues: Privacy and security are a major challenge with spatial computing implementation as it largely depends upon user data in real-time. Devices based on spatial computing collect a huge amount of data regarding user activities and surroundings. Although many organizations follow strict user policies, the risk is always there.
Side effects: If a spatial computing system is not designed and deployed properly, then it can cause side effects to users. Some users may feel discomfort or disorientation while using AR or VR for different applications.
Low acceptance rate: Even though spatial computing is now utilized in many industries, it is still a relatively new technology. Thus, a large group of users still not familiar with this technology don’t know how to utilize it properly and reap its benefits. Moreover, it is limited to certain products and usages, so it’s yet to get the popularity it needs.
However, most of these challenges are going to be diminished with time as more and more users are adopting spatial computing in their infrastructure.
Prominent Spatial Computing Examples
Here are some examples of spatial computing:
AR glasses: Using spatial computing, AR glasses enable users to interact with information and objects in a unique way. It projects images and all the related data in front of the eyes of the users in a three-dimensional form. Google Glasses and Microsoft HoloLens are popular AR glasses in the market.
Gaming: Spatial computing has helped many gaming studios to develop truly immersive games. PlayStation is one of the biggest advocates of spatial computing because of its real-time joystick and VR headset that allows the players to play games while being virtually present in the game.
Many sports and action-shooter games have largely benefited from AR and VR. You can even play open-world games like Zelda through motion sensors and VR. Pokemon Go is one of the biggest advocates of spatial computing, and it made people familiar with most spatial computing technologies.
Hybrid gear: Hybrid gear uses MR, AR, and VR technology. This gear has the capability to catch all the senses and ensures you have an immersive viewing experience. FeelReal’s multi-sensory mask is a popular hybrid gear that has caught the attention of many enthusiasts in recent times.
VR headsets: These are the most recognizable device that represents spatial computing. It allows users not only to experience various things in front of the eye but also allows you to interact with the digital world. VR headsets are widely used in games and applications as it helps in training and simulation. Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are some popular VR headsets available in the market.
Supernatural and BeatSaber: These are also early adopters of VR in their applications. Many fitness brands are also coming up with mixed-reality fitness apps where the headset can track the movement of the hand and allow you to do a range of exercises.
Recreational activities: Activities like trekking and skiing are not always possible for many due to various reasons. But spatial computing has enabled users to experience them from the convenience of their home and provides them with the same feeling as if they are present in the physical world. There are many recreational centers that offer such activities.
Spatial computing is the next big thing in the industry, and it is changing the way users interact with digital devices. Since it is a mix of a lot of technologies, it is spreading its wings in different industries.
Nowadays, organizations from various industries are finding ways to utilize spatial computing so that they can reap the maximum benefit and also enhance the user experience.
Top companies like Google, Apple, and Microsoft have already adopted it on a large scale, and they are working on ways to enhance the experience. Even though it has a long way to go, the time is not that far when spatial computing will be widely adopted by most of the players in the industry.