What is Spatial Computing and How is it Revolutionizing Our World?
Every day, millions of people all over the globe use spatial computing apps –whether it’s GPS, the speech recognition of a virtual home assistant, or the QR codes that we scan with our smartphone cameras. Despite this, many of us still have no idea what spatial computing is or how it works.
MIT Media Lab researcher Simon Greenwold coined the term "spatial computing" in 2003, but it is only in recent years that new technologies have enabled this futuristic vision to become a reality.
Spatial computing, such as natural language processing or deep neural networks, is a technological concept whose workings and implications may be challenging to grasp. However, at its core, spatial computing defines how we as humans interact with our surroundings. This means, that the human brain naturally processes and integrates information from our immediate environment in terms of spatial relationships. Our physical distance from another person, our body’s relationship to gravity, and commuting a familiar route are just a few examples of this always-online system.
What is Spatial Computing?
Spatial computing refers to a wide range of technologies. In the age of spatial computing, humans are transitioning from how we interacted with static computers in the past, to how we may connect with today's immersive, engaging technology.
For example, computers of the past are clunky and quite visible, because they are the manifestations of Web 1.0 and 2.0—where the internet was accessed through desktop computers and mobile phones.
The new internet, or Web 3.0, uses a suite of current technologies that make computers increasingly invisible by integrating their user interface into the physical environment. The spatial computing revolution works to seamlessly make computers part of the environment, taking advantage of our natural human spatial capabilities to increase productivity.
Examples of Spatial Computing in Your Everyday Life
Spatial computing is not just on pace to dramatically affect our lives; it has already had a huge influence on how we live. As a simple example, we are part of the spatial computing revolution every time we use social media location tagging. While this may be viewed as a basic component of any social media post, it provides a powerful context to users through location-specific information and generates insights about target audiences. Using your car or phone’s GPS system also works in the same way.
In addition to using GPS, examples of spatial computing in use today include:
- Virtual, augmented, or mixed reality technologies
- Internet of things devices (such as sensors in a warehouse and on robots)
- Speech recognition (such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri)
- And gestural recognition
In many cases, the power that these technologies can offer increases when they operate in synergy with one another, rather than in isolation.
To address this, there is a recent IEEE protocol for Web 3.0, aka the Spatial Web (and what is often vaguely referred to as the metaverse), that offers a technical standard for these technologies to communicate with each other in an organized and synergistic way.
VERSES has developed its COSM operating system that integrates the various flows of information and analytics from the components of spatial computing components. This reduces friction in the adoption and implementation of spatial computing, allowing it to function like a well-oiled machine.
As current work at VERSES with our customers shows, logistics and supply chain settings stand to benefit greatly from spatial computing, which can unlock greater productivity by streamlining workflows and interactions between people, objects, and machines. Spatial computing brings the physical world and the digital world together in a far more meaningful way than ever, inextricably linking our world and the internet landscape.
For example, VERSES’ Wayfinder utilizes spatial intelligence and AI to create a 3D twin model of warehouses, allowing these companies to optimize their inventory location, storage space, and inventory flow for better efficiency. It even evaluates and plugs optimum routes for workers in real-time, reducing travel time between picks. This means workers can operate more efficiently and pick more items.
What is the Process of Spatial Computing?
Spatial computing is the integration of traditional computing, which includes data and logic, with 3D location to develop user interfaces. Spatial computing is closely related to virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) since it’s founded on the same concept known as digital twins. Thus, spatial computing gets data from the sensors deployed in the system and gives insight into performance and possible issues using this approach.
Spatial Computing Extends Reality
As mentioned above, VR and AR are linked with spatial computing. Developers and designers can use spatial computing to explore the realm of "Extended Reality" or "Mixed Reality," in which we alter digital information in a non-digital manner. The Virtual Reality world is the inverse of the Mixed Reality world. VR allows us to immerse ourselves in a virtual environment. Let’s dive deeper into these terms.
The Difference Between VR, AR, and MR
- The term Virtual Reality (VR) refers to a completely digital, artificial world. The user in the actual world can roam about and interact with totally simulated things. Training applications, educational settings, and gamification are some most prominent use cases for VR.
- Augmented Reality (AR) is the term used to describe real-world interactions with digital information overlays. It incorporates computer-generated visuals into real-life photographs. AR's most popular applications are smart manufacturing and a variety of intelligent industrial processes.
- The point at which a virtual ecosystem merges with the real-world environment is referred to as Mixed Reality (MR). This is where digital and physical items coexist in real-time as a hybrid experience. For example, in video games where real-life objects are merged into a virtual world. Or when some video game users share gaming experiences via multiple headsets.
What Spatial Computing Features Make It All Come To Life
To integrate digital images into the real world, spatial computing employs a mix of the following features which provide a realistic experience.
Sound and Light
In spatial computing, real-world lighting is combined with digital light to function with our eye-brain pathways in the same manner that it does in real life. The closer that light displays interact with humans in an ergonomic and natural way, the more seamless the experience.
Photos allow the spatial computing experience to correctly represent the dimensions and depths of specific locations, allowing for a more accurate representation of an area, including in digital twins—virtual models designed to accurately reflect a physical object or setting.
Sensors and Movement Trackers
The instruments used to enable spatial computing can detect our eye movements, hand motions, body movements, and vocal instructions. In addition to cameras and microphones, haptic gear like gloves or bodysuits delivers physical sensations such as vibrations and air movements to make the experience more genuine from a sensory standpoint.
Spatial Computing: The Future Is Here
Spatial computing is fast gaining popularity and gives you lots of opportunities.
Rapid technological development unquestionably provides numerous benefits to organizations and society. As a result, it is essential to consider the use and purpose of any new technology so that its advantages can be fully realized.
As mentioned above, Wayfinder is a real example of spatial computing available today. A new layer of technology based on spatial intelligence and AI reshaping human-item interaction in the warehouse - Wayfinder optimizes warehouse logistics and overall supply chain by serving as a navigational companion to pickers leading them and pinpointing the exact location of items helping them find more items in less time with less effort. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how Wayfinder can help your business!