First, what is augmented reality?
Commonly referred to by the abbreviation AR, it is different to virtual reality in that it does not displace reality, but rather adds elements to it. So, to simplify: VR is when you put the glasses on and are transferred to somewhere entirely different, whereas AR is when you put the glasses on and see the same environment as before with some objects or people superimposed onto it.
What is Spatial and how does it work?
The way augmented reality works in Spatial is, each member of this shared workspace creates an avatar based on a photographed self-portrait. Granted, the avatar isn’t hyper-realistic, and there will be times when the lip movement doesn’t quite sync up with the speech, but it does offer a rather better sense of “being there”, and that’s what the app is all about.
When you join a meeting using a video-call app, your ability to fully participate in the meeting in a meaningful and proactive way is rather limited. You cannot, for example, give a presentation or even use your body to signify you’re addressing someone in particular. These are just a couple of things Spatial rectifies.
By wearing the AR glasses, you are fully immersed in the meeting, and can gesture and contribute to the meeting as much as anyone else in the room. The innovation doesn’t stop at 3D-generated avatars that resemble the people standing behind them.
The app allows you to visualize almost anything: an idea, a model, a presentation in a shared environment that everyone can see, so, literally putting your ideas out there. These shared virtual elements can be reorganized, grouped, moved and turned around.
Spatial allows you to literally pluck notes and media out of your computer or phone, using your fingers, and drag them out into the shared virtual environment, or even add elements to the environment simply by speaking. Is that cool, or what?
Another major perk of using Spatial is that the “conference room” you’ve created with your peers will remain there for future reference. So whereas in a real-life meeting, whatever you scribble on the whiteboard will be wiped away by the next meeting, Spatial stores all the media (be it ideas, presentations or videos) that was shared on that particular meeting in one space, allowing you to also pick up where you left off. You can, of course, start anew and create a new shared environment that isn’t “cluttered” by the ideas raised in previous meetings as well.
In a corporate world where managers are often called to spend many hours on a weekly or monthly basis on flights, airport security and checking into a hotel just to make it to a three-hour conference or meeting, the idea of a fully-visualized, collaborative and digitized workspace may very well revolutionize the way we do business.
Image source: screenshot from video