What is Spatial Computing?

Mario Ramic - Author Image
written by Mario Ramic
February 5, 2024
IKEA Place

What is Spatial Computing?

Spatial computing is a technology that enables computers to blend in with the physical world in a natural way. Spatial computing is an umbrella term that encompasses concepts like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), as well as the related concepts such as mixed reality and extended reality. Spatial computing technology allows users to interact with computers in more seamless and immersive ways. For example, you could place a virtual piece of furniture in your living room to see what it would look like before you buy it; or factory workers can overlay technical manuals onto a machine they’re building.

What are the applications and benefits of spatial computing?

Spatial computing has many applications and benefits across various domains and industries. Here are some examples:

  • Education: Spatial computing can create immersive and engaging learning experiences for students, such as visiting historical sites, exploring the solar system, or conducting experiments in a virtual lab.
  • Healthcare: Spatial computing can improve diagnosis, treatment, and training for medical professionals, such as displaying patient data, guiding surgeries, or simulating scenarios. It also has incredible benefits in training doctors with no risk of harmful effects to the patient.
  • Entertainment: Spatial computing can create new forms of entertainment and art, such as gaming, movies, music, or social media, that allow users to interact with virtual content and other users in novel ways.
  • Retail: Spatial computing can enhance the shopping experience and customer satisfaction, such as allowing users to try on clothes, test products, or customize items in a virtual environment.
  • Manufacturing: Spatial computing can improve the efficiency and safety of production processes, such as enabling remote collaboration, monitoring equipment, or optimizing workflows.
  • Transportation: Spatial computing can improve the safety and convenience of transportation systems, such as providing navigation, traffic information, or alerts to drivers and passengers. Spatial computing can also enable autonomous vehicles, drones, and robots to move around and perform tasks in complex environments.
  • Tourism: Spatial computing can enhance the travel experience and cultural appreciation of tourists, such as providing information, translation, or recommendations to visitors. Spatial computing can also create virtual tours of places that are inaccessible, dangerous, or distant.
  • Architecture: Spatial computing can facilitate the design and construction of buildings and structures, such as allowing architects and engineers to visualize, modify, or test their models in a realistic way. Spatial computing can also enable users to explore and interact with architectural spaces before they are built.
  • Environment: Spatial computing can help monitor and protect the environment, such as providing data, analysis, or alerts on environmental issues such as climate change, pollution, or natural disasters. Spatial computing can also create simulations and scenarios of environmental impacts and solutions.
  • Agriculture: Spatial computing can help farmers optimize crop production and management, such as providing data on soil quality, weather, pests, or irrigation. Spatial computing can also enable precision farming, which uses drones, robots, or sensors to monitor and apply inputs to crops in a targeted way.
  • Defense: Spatial computing can enhance the capabilities and safety of military personnel and operations, such as providing situational awareness, navigation, communication, or training. Spatial computing can also enable remote warfare, which uses drones, robots, or satellites to perform reconnaissance, surveillance, or combat missions.
  • Sports: Spatial computing can improve the performance and enjoyment of athletes and fans, such as providing feedback, analysis, or coaching to players. Spatial computing can also create immersive and interactive experiences for spectators, such as displaying statistics, replays, or perspectives of the game.

Spatial computing is a technology that has the potential to transform the way we interact with computers and the world around us. It is an exciting and challenging field that offers many opportunities for learning, creating, and exploring.  

Some of the latest VR headsets that use spatial computing technology are the Apple Vision Pro and the Meta Quest 3. These devices offer a spectrum of immersive experiences, from fully virtual to mixed reality, where users can see and interact with both digital and physical elements.

Apple Vision Pro

The Apple Vision Pro is a compact and elegant device that transforms how users use their apps, enjoy entertainment, and connect with others in a spatial way. It features a custom micro-OLED display, a dual-chip design, Spatial Audio, and a 3D camera.

The Apple Vision Pro allows users to have an infinite canvas that transforms how they use the apps they love. They can arrange apps anywhere and scale them to the perfect size, making the workspace of their dreams a reality. They can also browse the web in Safari, create a to-do list in Notes, chat in Messages, and seamlessly move between them with a glance.

The Apple Vision Pro can also transform any room into a personal theater, where users can expand their movies, shows, and games up to the perfect size while feeling like they’re part of the action with Spatial Audio. And with more pixels than a 4K TV for each eye, they can enjoy stunning content wherever they are.

The Apple Vision Pro is also Apple’s first 3D camera, which enables users to capture spatial photos and videos in 3D, then relive those cherished moments with immersive Spatial Audio. They can also view their existing library of photos and videos at remarkable scale, and feel like they’re standing right where they took them.

The Apple Vision Pro also makes it easy to collaborate and connect wherever users are. FaceTime video tiles are life-size, and as new people join, the call simply expands in the room. Users can also use apps to collaborate with colleagues on the same documents simultaneously

Apple Vision Pro

Meta Quest 3

The Meta Quest 3 is a powerful and versatile device that enables a range of immersive experiences, from gaming and fitness to wellness and entertainment. It features a Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 processor, a 4K+ Infinite Display, enhanced sound clarity, and Touch Plus controllers.

The Meta Quest 3 features breakthrough mixed reality that enables users to play a virtual piano on their coffee table, or see their favorite characters come to life in their living room. It also supports Direct Touch, which allows users to navigate without controllers by following their gestures.

The Meta Quest 3 also offers dazzling graphics and rich 3D audio that immerse users in the action. It has a 30% leap in visual resolution and 40% louder audio range than Quest 2. It also supports Spatial Audio, which creates realistic soundscapes that match the user’s head movements.

The Meta Quest 3 also provides fine-tuned precision and realistic sensations with Touch Plus controllers, which enable users to interact with virtual objects in a natural way. They can also use hand gestures to control the device, thanks to the advanced hand-tracking technology

The Meta Quest 3 also has access to the world’s best library of 500+ immersive apps, where users can find their favorite content across gaming, fitness, wellness, entertainment, social experiences, and more. They can also get up to 2.2 hours of usage on average, with the option to extend their battery life further with Battery Saver mode.

Meta Quest 3

Spatial Computing Apps: What They Are and How They Work

Spatial computing apps are applications that use spatial computing technology to provide various functions and features. They can range from gaming and entertainment to education and productivity. Some examples of spatial computing apps are:

  • Meta Horizon: Meta Horizon is a social app that uses spatial computing to create a virtual world where users can meet, chat, and hang out with their friends and family. Users can customize their avatars, express their emotions, and join various activities and events. They can also create and share their own spaces and experiences.
  • Magic Leap Art: Magic Leap Art is a creative app that uses spatial computing to let users draw and paint in 3D. Users can use their hands or controllers to create and manipulate digital art in their environment. They can also collaborate with other artists and share their creations online.
  • Microsoft Mesh: Microsoft Mesh is a collaboration app that uses spatial computing to enable users to work together across distances. Users can join holographic meetings, share 3D content, and co-create in mixed reality. They can also use Mesh-enabled apps, such as HoloLens 2 and AltspaceVR, to enhance their communication and productivity.

Spatial computing apps work by using various technologies, such as computer vision, sensor fusion, spatial mapping, haptic feedback, machine learning, edge computing, and more. These technologies enable spatial computing devices, such as headsets and glasses, to understand and map the environment, and to display and interact with digital content in a spatial way.

Spatial computing apps offer many benefits, such as:

  • Enhanced immersion: Spatial computing apps provide users with a more immersive and engaging experience, as they can see and interact with digital content in a realistic and natural way.
  • Improved learning: Spatial computing apps can enhance learning outcomes, as they can provide users with interactive and hands-on experiences, as well as contextual and personalized feedback.
  • Increased creativity: Spatial computing apps can foster creativity, as they can enable users to express themselves and explore new possibilities in a 3D space.
  • Reduced costs: Spatial computing apps can reduce costs, as they can replace expensive and bulky equipment, such as monitors and projectors, with lightweight and portable devices.

Spatial computing apps are expected to grow in popularity and diversity, as more devices and platforms support spatial computing technology. They can also create new opportunities and challenges for developers, designers, and users, as they can transform how we interact with computers and the world.

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