The metaverse is expected to grow quickly to become a $679 billion industry by 2030. Keeping such a huge boom in perspective, metaverse is the most ambitious project the world is collaboratively focusing on since the birth of digital computing.
To comprehend the buzz around metaverse better, consider it as a parallel virtual plane of existence that covers all digital technologies and will eventually control much of the physical world too. This comprehension can better explain another common definition of the metaverse as a 3D internet, and why establishing it globally is so hard, yet likely to be worthwhile.
The next step in this revolutionary trend seems to be a persistent and living virtual world that is neither a window into our life (such as Facebook or Instagram) nor an avenue where we communicate (such as Gmail) but one in which we also exist—and in 3D (hence the focus on immersive VR headsets and avatars).
This boils down to the another key layer of metaverse – Spatial Computing. While other layers have their own significance, this particular layer is all about being futuristic.
How did Spatial Computing come to being?
Every day everyone around the world uses spatial computing, but we are not even aware. Although the term might seem too technical and its real-world applications straight out of a science fiction movie, tech solutions like ride-sharing apps, virtual home assistants or autonomous vehicles are the brainchilds of spatial computing only.
The pandemic has adversely affected nearly all industries and the world economy. The sudden shift in people’s behaviour and new consumption habits have compelled companies to rework on their strategies, which has led to the digital transformation in various sectors.
Is spatial computing a new term?
Nope, this term has existed since the early 2000s. Simon Greenwold in his 2003 thesis described it as ‘human interaction with a machine in which the machine retains and manipulates references to real objects and spaces.’
It is the next big step in the ongoing intersection of the physical and digital worlds as it not only amplifies our reality but also understands the space, hence allowing the content project to interact and engage with the surroundings.
Spatial computing does everything just akin to VR and AR apps.
Its process can be broken down into three simple stages:
- It ties together these capabilities with high-fidelity spatial mapping
- to enable a computer to track, control the movements and regulate the interactions of objects
- as a person drives through the digital or physical world.
Safe to say, it is slowly taking human-machine and machine-machine interactions to new heights of efficiency in many walks of life, like transportation, health care, and the home. Tech giants, including Apple, Meta, Microsoft and Amazon, are heavily investing in the technology already.
What is Spatial Computing?
Till today, we’ve interacted with computers via type, touch and a screen. But, the UI for spatial commuting will turn the tables. Imagine – eye-controlled interactions, body or hand gestures, and voice controls where hardware is invisible. The concept of fixed computers and staring at a flat-screen will be gone into history books and in fact looked down upon by our future generations.
But what exactly is spatial computing? This question comes into play as more and more industrial enterprises are looking forward to digitally transforming their businesses.
Simply put, spatial computing is the virtualization of activities and interactions between machines, people, objects, and theenvironments in which they take place to enable and optimize actions and interactions. It is the practice of utilizing physical space as a computer interface where machines no longer need to be tied to a fixed location. It adds knowledge of relative location, i.e. location in respect to other locations that help expand the concept of traditional computing.
The trend of automation, as well as machines working alongside humans are increasing globally. With spatial computing, there is a coequal collaboration between humans and machines, but it also enhances each individually. It fosters hybrid real/virtual computation that removes the barriers between the physical and the ideal worlds. Wherever possible, it enables the machine in space and space in the machine to merge into each other. For example: bringing space into the computer or injecting computation into objects.
In a nutshell, it means designing systems that push through the traditional boundaries of screen and keyboard without getting hung up there and melting into interface or meek simulation.
How Spatial Computing & Metaverse are tied together?
Spatial computing has already become an inevitable part of our lives and made it easier as well. By combining AR, VR and MR to bring the idea of the “metaverse” to fruition, it accelerates the vision of a parallel, three-dimensional, virtual universe that interacts with the real world and never shuts down. It lets you interact with both the virtual and the real world simultaneously in real time.
- In the metaverse, the element of spatial computing makes fashion fun and shopping more convenient by allowing shoppers to try on clothes in virtual changing rooms. Now, it also enables you to work, shop and socialise as avatars in a rich, 3-dimensional digital world that mimics the real one.
- A game that uses spatial computing will let the players play it against the backdrop of their immediate real-world surroundings. The characters in the game will not just detect the physical objects around but interact with them, like sitting on a sofa in the living room.
As a matter of fact, spatial computing has grown to be an important class of technology over time by allowing us to access and manipulate 3D spaces for improved experiences.
To ensure that spatial computing works as desired, specialised software and hardware are required. Check out the various aspects of the software layer that power the metaverse:
- 3D engines for displaying geometry and animation (Unity – a real time development platform and Unreal Engine – a real time 3D creation tools).
- Geospatial mapping and object recognition for mapping and analyzing the real and virtual worlds.
- Gesture and voice recognition.
- Internet of Things for data integration from devices.
- Human biometrics for identification purposes.
- Next-generation user interfaces to support concurrent information streams and analysis.
The Inevitability of Spatial Interface
Our world is 3D – we are born into and grow up living in 3D spatial space. Our vision, cognition, sensors and movements are shaped according to the context of these dimensions.
The adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words” holds immense significance in today’s time. Wonderin how? Well, the explosion of data by various sources is compelling everyone to advance towards a more ‘eye-centric’ interface that will enable us to interact in a much more productive and efficient manner.
Today’s post-pandemic economy is crawling towards resiliency with businesses operating across vast distances and connecting with their customers in ways that imitate physical interactions, while benefiting from the speed and scale of high-speed networks. This economic change is widely being driven by the spatial computing layer of metaverse.
Where is spatial computing heading to?
Spatial computing is touted for its dynamic 3D visualization of products, industrial spaces, and workers and all their interactions in real time. It amplifies the ability to virtualize or digitalize how machines, objects, people, and environments are related to each other in space.
The widespread use cases of spatial computing speak volumes of the fact that it will be the next stage of the digital transformation. It has the potential to impact nearly everyone – from shoppers in retailers, patients and MDs, employees and CEOs. It will also play a key role in improving the functionality of machine-to-machine communication.
Humans ability to think collaboratively makes them powerful. Spatial computing will facilitate the same – collaborate millions of people, not with text but by visually capturing the collective human intelligence about every person, place and thing. It will also ensure that it is available to anyone (not by search) but at a glance wherever you go, using AR cloud infrastructure.
Be it the digital twin concept or the Metaverse along with a gamut of other opportunities, the possibilities for spatial computing technology are limitless which surely implies that interesting times are ahead of us.
About Rising Capital
Rising Capital is a ‘Digital Assets Asset Management’ firm focussed on early stage blockchain investments (Rising Funds) and venture building studio (Rising Studios). Our experience & global network allows us to be at the forefront of changing narratives in crypto such as NFT, Gaming, Metaverse, L1s and L2s, along with advancements in blockchain protocol. Have an interesting idea for partnership or working on a startup?