How is spatial computing evolving?

2 November 2021

As virtual reality technology becomes too prominent in the market, the field of spatial computing is evolving to create new ways for people to understand interactions with the physical world.

So, what is spatial computing?

Spatial computing combines virtual reality with augmented reality that uses text, sound, and images to enrich users’ insight and experience. By creating a spatial model of a city, it is no longer a flat, two-dimensional object on a computer screen; it is a three-dimensional virtual world that users can inhabit in this ‘mixed reality’ mode. 

Mixed reality in spatial computing means a way for city planners and others to interact with part of the city and stimulate scenarios to understand and analyze the effects of any changes. For instance, when a city planning department wants to add to the built environment of the city, research and engineers must study the impacts of the planned changes on the city and its citizens. Traditionally, this would have required them to prepare large data sets of detailed documents and calculations that may only have seen understood by a select group of people and could go out of date over the court of the project.

Today, architecture plans are accompanied by virtual models that showcase what a new building will look like in its intended location. Spatial computing goes further than that by presenting and its surroundings as mixed reality. Using this, together with existing data, the construction of the new building and any other changes can be simulated to identify impacts on the environments and people. For example, if data on current noise pressure, air quality and so on, is gathered and stored, it can be used in a spatial computing model in combination, for example, with sound reflection of sound absorption rates of the proposed design and construction materials. The impact of a new building on a natural air flow, for example, can be visualized showing any related effects on air quality and possible heat spots. 

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