Navigating the spatial computing revolution

A strategic approach for business leaders in IT

Cauê Dias Silva

Innovation and R&D Executive Manager at NTT DATA

In the wake of the generative AI revolution, the world is on the brink of a transformative shift towards spatial computing. As we enter 2024, a pivotal year for the technology, the spatial computing market is projected to witness an annual growth rate of 18.30%, soaring from 124 billion dollars in 2023 to an impressive 620 billion dollars by 2032. This marks a significant leap, constituting approximately 4% of the entire global IT revenue in 2024, a substantial share of the 3.1 trillion dollars total.

Strategically positioning businesses to harness this growth is imperative. In Europe, an annual growth rate of 20% is anticipated, while the LAMEA region (Latin America, Middle East, and Africa) is poised for an even more remarkable annual growth of 25.1% between 2023 and 2032. To capitalize on this spatial computing revolution, businesses need to comprehend and leverage the opportunities it presents, reshaping the landscape of services and digital interaction.

Introduction to spatial computing


Spatial computing, as defined by Simon Greenwold in 1995, captures the essence of human interaction with technology by manipulating elements related to real objects and spaces. This technology, powered by sensors and environmental mapping techniques, facilitates the creation of immersive experiences, seamlessly integrating digital objects into physical environments. From retail and banking to education and the industrial sector, spatial computing applications span diverse sectors, catering to different generational groups.

As spatial computing evolves, it is set to become an integral part of the technology economy, offering businesses unprecedented opportunities to enhance user experiences and digital interactions. 

Spatial computing has been simmering on the tech backburner for years, attracting niche interest but struggling to break into the mainstream. Yet, over the past few months, the buzz has reached a fever pitch. From tech giants like Apple entering the scene to industry reports touting its revolutionary potential, it seems everyone is talking about spatial computing. Several factors are converging to create the ideal breeding ground for spatial computing:

Maturing Technology: Advancements in hardware, software, and sensor technology are finally making spatial computing devices lighter, more powerful, and less clunky. This improved user experience is crucial for mass adoption.

Evolving User Needs: The pandemic has driven a growing demand for immersive and remote collaboration tools. Spatial computing offers a unique solution, enabling people to virtually connect and interact as if they were physically present.

Investment and Hype: Major tech players like Apple, Microsoft, and Meta are pouring resources into spatial computing, generating significant hype and driving innovation. This investment fuels further development and attracts broader interest.

Use cases by industry (examples)

Healthcare

• Patient Rehabilitation: Patients can undergo rehabilitation in a virtual environment, using gamified experiences to improve mobility or cognitive function.

Manufacturing

• Product Design and Prototyping: Engineers can design and prototype products in a virtual environment, testing and iterating designs more quickly and efficiently.

• Factory Planning and Optimization: Spatial computing can be used to visualize and optimize factory layouts, improving efficiency and reducing downtime.

Retail

• Virtual Try-On: Customers can virtually try on clothes or accessories, reducing the need for physical stores and returns.

• Personalized Shopping Experiences: Spatial computing can be used to create personalized shopping experiences, recommending products based on a customer's preferences and past purchases.

Financial Services

• Investment Banking and Trading: Spatial computing can be used to visualize and analyze complex financial data, helping traders make better decisions.

• Customer Service and Support: Financial institutions can use spatial computing to provide personalized customer service and support, offering virtual consultations and assistance.

Fundamentals of spatial computing


Spatial computing is supported by a spectrum of technologies, each playing a crucial role in its development.

Augmented and mixed reality (AR/MR/MAR) overlays digital elements onto the real world, creating a hybrid environment. Virtual reality (VR) immerses users in entirely virtual worlds through dedicated headsets. These technologies are set to redefine digital habits and create new markets for related products and services.

The choice of devices and sensors is pivotal in the spatial computing landscape. Standalone headsets, such as Meta Quest, offer portability, while 6DoF and LiDAR sensors enable natural interactions, tracking movement in the physical environment. Passthrough features, allowing a view of the physical environment through headsets, enhance the mixed reality experience.

Development platforms:

Spatial computing applications are built on platforms and SDKs (Software Development Kit) that form the foundation of various solutions.

ARCore by Google and ARKit by Apple are instrumental in augmented reality development, while WebAR facilitates web-based augmented reality experiences without requiring additional plugins.

Game engines, particularly Unity and Unreal, provide essential infrastructure, enabling the creation of immersive and interactive spatial computing experiences.

Creation and design of the 3D experience

The development of 3D experiences is fundamental to the success of immersive spatial computing applications. Creative sessions normally involve conceptualizing designs and quick prototypes, visualizing the arrangement of items and experiences in the environment. 

It is crucial to move beyond 2D-oriented tools and prioritize platforms like Unity, ensuring the spatial aspects are effectively captured.

Conclusion


It´s time to understand how technology advances and digital interactions become more immersive, spatial computing not only represents a paradigm shift but the creation of new digital habits and, consequently, the opening of new markets and opportunities.

Therefore, with strategic vision, specialized knowledge, and guidance all sectors can not only embrace but lead the spatial computing revolution, shaping the future of services in 3D.

Specialized computing is undoubtedly one of the most interesting topics of the moment. If you want to explore other hot topics, we invite you to click on this article. Furthermore, if you wish to delve further into challenges and the future of virtual reality, you can consult this article on sensory from our website.

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