Are Spatial's high-fiving avatars the future of work?

by The One Centre

9

October, 2020

9th October 2020

Instead of heading into the office or travelling interstate for a meeting, Spatial is making it possible to send our avatars to work instead.

In early 2020, as the coronavirus spread globally, video conferencing suddenly became an accepted part of daily life. Tools like Zoom, Meet and Teams are booming, yet their limitations have also become painfully apparent. Many people find video calls awkward and one-sided, especially when it comes to brainstorming and collaborating. It’s hard to experience the same gut reactions and intimacy when you’re staring at a panel of talking heads, especially in large groups.

Enter Spatial – an augmented reality collaboration platform that makes it feel as though your colleagues have been magically teleported into the room with you. For those of us who grew up watching movies in which humans coexist with avatars and holograms in new dimensions, reality is catching up with science fiction.

Spatial uses virtual (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to fuse the physical and digital worlds of work. Teams of remote workers can use Spatial to create avatars of themselves, collaborate side-by-side in a virtual workplace, ‘manifest’ their ideas as digital objects or give each other virtual high-fives.

The platform has been described as “videoconferencing on steroids”, while Mike Krieger, Instagram co-founder and an investor in Spatial believes: “Spatial’s mixed-reality solution will be a key part of the future of work. They’re taking us beyond everyday tools like Zoom and Slack and pointing the way towards what conferencing and collaboration can be like if they were invented today.”

Play video

Spatial launched quietly in 2016 and revealed its innovations two years later. In early 2020, the coronavirus arrived, forcing millions of people to work from home. Since then, after opening up the platform for free, Spatial has seen a 1000% uptick in interest and usage, a spokesperson told ONEtalks. Not only has it been trialed by a majority of the Fortune 10 and over 40% of the Fortune 1000, but Spatial is now seeing interest from small business owners and ‘prosumers’ (customers who want the highest-quality technical products, or who participate in the creation of products).

“Three-dimensional media is possibly, finally approaching a breakthrough moment.”

Its enterprise customers include Mattel, Ford X, Nestle, Pfizer and Purina, which are using Spatial to design and model new toys, share concepts for packaging and product design, save money on travel, and connect teams in different cities. Nasdaq is trialling Spatial to connect with clients during and post-COVID, and is now looking to host a virtual bell ceremony; BNP Paribas uses Spatial to model land purchases and development deals around the world.

The platform is also being trialled to provide telehealth services and COVID-response aid, train clinicians and volunteers faster, connect patients who are isolated from their families, or to engage remote students in virtual worlds (like stepping back in time to Harlem in the 1920s, for example).

As TechCrunch observes: “Spatial’s first publicly-named customers include very non-tech names like Mattell, Purina/Nestle and BNP Paribas. That in itself is a sign of how immersive, three-dimensional media is possibly, finally approaching a breakthrough moment.”

So, how does it work? One of the secrets to Spatial’s success is the fact that it is ‘platform agnostic’. It can be used from any device, including a PC or smartphone. It works with AR headsets (HoloLens, Magic Leap), VR headsets (Oculus Quest), mobile apps (iOS, Android), web apps, productivity tools like Slack and Figma, with Google Drive and Nreal smart glasses coming soon. Spatial can handle about 15 to 20 people at a time, but the goal is to scale up to manage hundreds at once.

“We are moving from the era of personal computing to collective computing where people can share their space and ideas from anywhere, on any device,” explains Jinha Lee, Spatial’s Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder.

“We are moving from the era of personal computing to collective computing.”

Another reason for Spatial’s rise is of course timing. Travel is expensive, exhausting and terrible for the environment, and right now in the coronavirus era, not even an option. 

 “Moving into a 3D setting where everyone feels physically present brings a new level of engagement and presence. You are no longer a passive participant but an active part of any meeting. The deeper sense of presence brings teammates closer and allows them to iterate faster,” explains Spatial’s spokesperson.

The company’s growth also coincides with the launch of 5G and more affordable, lightweight smart glasses on the horizon from the likes of Apple and Nreal. Spatial is now teaming up with major 5G carriers to offer Spatial as a bundle – a deal that could take AR/VR into the mainstream.

 “This combination of hardware, chipset and carrier giants is a perfect storm for AR, just like what drove the mobile revolution in the early 2000s with smartphones, high-speed mobile data and app stores,” Spatial CEO and Co-Founder, Anand Agarawala, told VentureBeat.

 With US$22 million raised to-date, Spatial looks like a serious disruptor to the global video conferencing sector – projected to reach USD$50 billion in value by 2026. It is also leading the way in the booming virtual and augmented reality sector, which is forecast to grow from $13 billion in 2020 to $67 billion by 2024 globally, according to Digi-Capital. Sales of AR and VR headsets combined are slated to hit 26 million units per year by 2023, according to Statistica, up from just 6 million VR headsets sold in 2019.

Spatial is now interested in opening up its platform to other developers to build productivity applications, which could accelerate its growth even faster.

Why It Matters

  • Video conferencing tools like Zoom and Hangouts have boomed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic: between December 2019 and April 2020, Zoom’s daily users surged from 10 million to 300 million; Google Meet topped 100 million daily users in April 2020.
  • They now face disruption from companies like Spatial, which are using AR and VR to reimagine “how work should be”.
  • Considering how long VR and AR have been around, the sector is surprisingly niche and overhyped. Spatial could finally take mixed reality into the mainstream by providing a practical reason for using these technologies daily.
  • This will have huge implications for many sectors from fashion and retail (think virtual runways and holographic change rooms) to healthcare (Spatial is already being used to train volunteers in remote areas to use ventilators, for example).
  • In addition to taking on the video conferencing sector, Spatial will disrupt the business travel sector by giving companies an alternative to corporate travel – and the wasted time, money and carbon emissions that result from it.
  • Work will never be the same as a result of the coronavirus and the global #WFH experiment: a survey of 229 human resources leaders revealed that 41% of “employees are likely to work remotely at least some of the time” after the pandemic ends – up from 30% before the pandemic. (The New Daily, April 2020)
  • This in turn will transform cities around the world, which face an exodus of tree and sea changers who realise they (and their avatars) can work from anywhere. As more companies downsize to save on commercial real estate costs, Spatial’s surge looks set to continue.

Credits

Article By: The One Centre
Ideas and innovation company
Twitter @onecentregroup

Share

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkedin
Share via Email

Related Stories

Technology

Are Spatial's high-fiving avatars the future of work?

Transport

Behind Tesla’s supersonic rise as the world’s most valuable car company

Technology

Is Life360 bringing families closer, or pushing teens away?

Lifestyle

The Brands Saving the World from COVID-19

Finance

Happy Money: the fintech that’s curing debt addictions

Food & Beverage

Is Kin the booze-free future of revelry?

Lifestyle

5 brands (and sectors) to watch in 2020

Finance

Beyond is bringing transparency to the business of death

Food & Beverage

Lagunitas is brewing dope you can drink

Finance

Doconomy is a banking service with a conscience

Transport

Will Wing’s drone deliveries help or hinder bricks-and-mortar retail?

Health & Fitness

Oura ring is unlocking the secrets of sleep

Technology

Why millennials love paying for Lemonade insurance

Lifestyle

How Everlane’s radically transparent ethos is upending fashion

Health & Fitness

Recyclable glasses made simple from Dresden

Food & Beverage

Eat an Impossible Burger, save the world

News

Brands Disrupting the World: book now for our next ONEtalks

Health & Fitness

Sex education you can trust: how Clue is tackling taboos

Food & Beverage

Drinking Oatly is more than a trend. It’s a "paradigm shift"

Lifestyle

Mobile is at the heart of Nike’s House of Innovation stores

Centre News

The psychology of selling to the world’s ultra-rich

Fashion

The Phluid Project: Shaking up the gendered world of fashion

News

The One Centre acquires digital media agency Effilab Australia

Finance

Koho is taking back your dreams from the banks that stole them

Transport

Forget buying a Mercedes-Benz. Why not subscribe?

Technology

Behind the meteoric rise of the world's biggest vaping brand JUUL

Retail

Cult Korean eyewear label Gentle Monster takes on London

News

The One Centre presents the brands disrupting the world at ONEtalks

Transport

Uber has a better way to map data – and anyone can use it

Health & Fitness

Forget ‘stoner’ – MedMen is taking marijuana mainstream

Centre News

Four pillars of brand success – John Ford writes for Startup Daily

Fashion

Virtual celebrity Lil Miquela partners with Japanese label Ambush

Fashion

Oakley’s ode to obsession

Fashion

"Will finds a way" with Under Armour

Technology

Kengo Kuma is purifying the air at Milan Design Week

Technology

Facebook is building Willow Village. Would you live there?

Technology

Apple recruits Spike Jonze to welcome you home

Technology

Dot Watch is disrupting the Braille market

Transport

Is Hyundai Pavilion the darkest building on earth?

News

The One Centre presents ‘Disruption Needs Construction’ at Sydney Design Festival 2018

Transport

Nissan brings its tech to life with self-driving slippers

Fashion

Outdoor apparel brand Patagonia to sue the Trump administration

News

The One Centre is hiring creative directors. Here’s our manifesto.

Fashion

Tiffany & Co brings Breakfast at Tiffany’s to life with luxury collection

Products

Behind the scenes of OK Go’s ‘Obsession’

Fashion

The North Face combines daydreams and free skiing stunts in a mesmerising film

Fashion

Nike is fighting bots with augmented reality

Centre News

"The only way is up" - John Ford writes for Mumbrella

Fashion

Fashion house Yves Saint Laurent opens a museum in Marrakech

Transport

Volkswagen explores the father/son relationship in an emotional film

Technology

Meet Norman, a WebVR tool for doodling in space

Centre News

“Give Dove a break” - John Ford speaks to CMO magazine

Food & Beverage

Guinness saddles up Compton Cowboys for latest Made of More film

Products

Minimalist Japanese brand Muji expands empire with fresh food market

Technology

Teenage Engineering

Technology

A forest where gods live

Fashion

Louis Vuitton teams with Supreme for ultimate brand collaboration

Technology

Technological Nature

Technology

Playful Palette

Fashion

Nike creates graphic feast for Air Max

Transport

Volvo returns to safety positioning in masterpiece film for the new XC6O

Products

Ikea to employ Syrian refugees in social sustainability project

Technology

Screens of the future

Technology

Apple’s extravagant new campus brings brand values to life

Products

Transformative Appetite

Products

Dove launches Real Beauty Productions to tell stories of real women

Technology

Rapid Liquid Printing

Lifestyle

The brands coming out to support the LGBT community

Media & Entertainment

Abstract. The Art of Design

Retail

Target creates mini-musical spectacular for Christmas

Transport

Nissan creates mobile workspace

Lifestyle

Lincoln Motor Company taps Annie Leibovitz for campaign

Products

Braun creates hypnotic installation for London Design Week

Transport

BMW Films returns with an explosive short film

Fashion

Adidas Republic of Sports launches in China

Technology

Convert the world around you to Pantone with the new Pantone App

Experiences

Moleskine opens a cafe for creatives

Media & Entertainment

We're the Superhumans: Channel 4 returns with film series

Fashion

Activewear brand Lululemon expands into beer

Food & Beverage

Tiger Beer launches NYC pop-up store to showcase best of Asia

Products

P&G rolls out strong film in ongoing Thank You, Mom campaign

Products

Ikea launches brand collaborations

Fashion

Adidas creates sustainable shoes made from ocean plastics

Lifestyle

Google launches 360-degree interactive animated short film

Food & Beverage

Coca-Cola makes music with W Hotels

Finance

Save The Children returns with harrowing refugee film

Fashion

COS creates "show-stopping" installation

Fashion

Uniqlo aims for Utopia with flagship store relaunch

Food & Beverage

McDonald's transforms Happy Meal toy into VR experience

Technology

Samsung launches immersive brand experience store

Media & Entertainment

Lo and Behold: Netscout launches branded film at Sundance Film Festival

Fashion

Burberry teams with Apple to launch dedicated Music channel

Technology

Apple Watch creates blooming installation at Selfridges

Fashion

Nike targets women with luxury workout experience

Art & Design

HSBC soars in stunning elevator film

Hospitality

The Four Seasons Jet is the ultimate brand experience

Fashion

Savage Beauty: Iconic Alexander McQueen honoured in exhibition

Technology

Samsung film is a beautiful tribute to the power of technology

Fashion

Converse creates global exhibition to celebrate iconic shoe

Fashion

Leica and Moncler create Monumental exhibition

Technology

Wind Mobile celebrates human connections

Products

Lego targets architects with new product range

Products

GE revives iconic Moon Boot to celebrate role

Fashion

Nike's ‘Phenomenal’ World Cup experience

Fashion

Louis Vuitton Museum: a new level of branded art

Media & Entertainment

GQ to groom men with branded barbershop

Transport

BMW's iconic Art Cars Project launches global tour

Food & Beverage

Chipotle turns to literature in new project

Food & Beverage

Cornetto spreads the love with film series

Food & Beverage

Stella hits high note with Chalice Symphony

Finance

NRMA opens Crashed Car Showroom

Technology

Intel urges audiences to 'look inside' in film series

Fashion

Net-A-Porter launches glossy print magazine

Products

The Lego Movie hits cinemas worldwide

Food & Beverage

Guinness creates short film 'The Sapeurs'

Products

Dom Perignon and Jeff Koons create art

Fashion

Patagonia film celebrates the stories we wear

Fashion

Louis Vuitton's controversial exhibition

Food & Beverage

Chipotle wages war on Big Food

Technology

AT&T's brutal new film to stop texting and driving

Transport

BA tugs the heartstrings with Visit Mum film

Transport

Leave the world behind with Volvo

Technology

IBM & The World's Smallest Film

Fashion

Burberry merges digital and physical worlds

Lifestyle

Iconic landmark is on song with The Ship Song

Media & Entertainment

Bond's Skyfall is ultimate branded entertainment

Lifestyle

Red Bull goes Stratospheric

Transport

Audi showcases the future in Spheres

Technology

AT&T unveils transmedia experience Daybreak

Products

Google experiments with art and science

Technology

GE asks Australians for Two Words

Food & Beverage

Coca-Cola Moves to the Beat of London

theONEcentre

Strategy + Artistry

Ground Floor,
71 York St
Sydney NSW 2000
T +61 2 8096 9700
hello@theonecentre.com


To receive updates on our
ONEtalks series and newsletter.

Back to top

theONEcentre

Strategy + Artistry