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11 December 2018

Spatial Computing: A Vision of the Future 

As Isobar publishes its 2019 trends report, chief innovation officer Dave Meeker looks even further into the future. Contagious I/O.

At Isobar as we look ahead to 2019, we find ourselves once again reflecting on the concept of Augmented Humanity, which is what happens when humans work in harmony with technology and machine intelligence to expand and enrich life. This is the theme of our annual trends report and as I was thinking about some of its key topics, my thoughts turned to another development that will transform the way in which humans interact with and benefit from technology. This revolution in computing will be far more impactful than what we’ve seen to date with our mobile devices. 

Mobile phones enabled untethered access to information and communication. We no longer needed a corded telephone or to sit behind a computer in order to access the internet. This ability to be mobile had a profound effect on humanity and created fertile ground for the growth and global reach of Amazon, Facebook, Uber and other businesses built on top of always-on, contextual and flexible digital interactions. 

 

Today, we are able to feed our hunger for information just about anywhere, but we still do so in a manner that is defined by our devices. We are stuck to our screens and our computing time is active and inefficient. It is active because we must initiate our interactions with content and inefficient because the apps we use, and the data they deliver or the information that we create, hide behind their icons and live inside folders. We must seek them out, call them up and use them one at a time – an order mandated by the very nature of binary computing.

In the coming years, we will continue to see humanity evolve through the applications of technology – and these will reveal how the augmentation of humanity progresses and is refined. Regardless of the rise and fall of companies, the launch of new products and services or the creation of entirely new industries, it is certain that the machines on which we rely will aid us continuously, while continuing to disappear into our environments. The information and digital tools that we rely on today will become integrated into every moment we encounter and every space that we occupy.

We will see a bubble of digital information surround every human, from our health records, to our favourite entertainment choices and family calendars, to the things necessary to do our individual jobs.

This sphere of content – our digital space – will be able to be recalled based on our context. Today, Augmented Reality is used largely as a way to engage consumers with a display of a product, or as an entertainment experience. But as our digital evolution progresses, so will the way we leverage today’s emerging technologies. Mixed Reality – where digital content lives within and interacts with the world around us – will become the norm in our homes, our vehicles and our places of work.

In our personal lives, we will have access to relevant digital content when we need it and where we want it. When we’re at home, our favourite recipes and family information will surface. We’ll be provided with information on how to care for our lawn or a reminder to take the recycling out. Our garage will surface content related to our vehicle (if we still have one). These content experiences will vary and will replace the archaic notion of today’s mobile phone – the app stores of the future will better our lives by providing software that understands us and both our individual needs and shared spaces. Content will surround us – at museums, stadiums, schools, public monuments – everywhere. Audio, video, images and data will surface as needed in context to our own experiences.

In the workplace, we will reach a point in time where isolation will dissolve in favour of group experiences – even if nobody else is physically present there with you. We will say goodbye to the day of the personal computer, and instead relish the value that collaborative computing brings. Together we will learn, solve problems, act, measure. As physical computers disappear, their output will become omnipresent. Hardware will fade away, replaced by software as the primary enabler. Content will live in three dimensions and interact with our physical environments.

What was once only imaginary will become real – and designers’ imaginations will be the only limitations to how we interact with one another. We will control the access to information and interact with it with our eyes, voice, hands – just as we do with other humans.

This new paradigm of computing will be commonly known as spatial computing – and we must all be ready for it.

To find out more about ‘Augmented Humanity: Isobar Trends Report 2019’ click here