Spatial is What Would Happen if Slack and Zoom Had a VR Baby
When it comes to communication media that allow you to express yourself clearly, email is generally better than text messages, phone calls are better than email, and zoom-style video calls are better than phone calls. Could virtual reality be better than a video call?
That’s the bet Spatial, a startup led by a team of former employees from Google, Samsung, Microsoft, and Apple, is making on a tool similar to Slack and Zoom and having a VR / AR baby. The idea is to expand on the immersive aspect of today’s crop of chat apps – a category that is unsurprisingly booming during the pandemic – by moving beyond the flat, video-based conversations of a zoom call into the three-dimensional realm of the virtual Reality.
Do you remember the VR training scene from The Matrix? It’s a bit like that, but with you and your teams gathering for a business morning instead of learning kickass kung fu to turn off the machines.
“Spatial is a collaboration tool that allows you to enter a virtual workspace with your co-workers or friends – to create, review, or brainstorm in the physical space around you, but with the unlimited capabilities of digital tools,” he said Jacob Lowenstein, head of business at Spatial, said Digital Trends. “In AR, you can literally beam avatars of your teammates into your living room to collaborate with you in your real world.”
Entering Spatial is a quick and easy process. Visit the company’s website and upload a picture of yourself or take a quick selfie. Spatial then turns this into a 3D avatar that you can use in the virtual world. The faces come with lip-syncing and eye-tracking technology, and Lowenstein said an update is on the way that will improve facial expressions.
A game changer at work?
Spatial is device agnostic and works with a range of AR and VR headsets including Oculus Quest, Hololens, Magic Leap and the soon to be launched Nreal. There is also a web app and native iOS and Android applications.
In addition to the three-dimensional representation of your colleagues (who would have thought this was such a novelty a year ago?) There is the possibility of simply dragging 3D models into the virtual world, as well as the usual integration of Google Drive and Slack. the ability to share web links, edit them in real time, and anything else you’d expect from a workplace chat app.
In many cases, of course, tools like Zoom are good at work. So why add the extra gimmick? “Zoom views have enormous value and have become synonymous with 2020,” agreed Lowenstein. “However, in these joint meetings with several people, Zoom quickly breaks down. Spatial provides the feeling of presence and non-verbal cues that are missing from 2D video calls. Everyone suddenly feels like an active and engaged participant. The feeling is incredibly visceral. So many clients have told us how important this emotional connection was to their teams, especially this year. It really feels like you’re working side by side again. “