Releasing computers into the world around us
Spatial computing involves a radical change from how we interacted with the large, static computers of the past. Technological advances have now made it possible for us to operate computer technology in a host of new ways, and have opened up computers to new contexts and applications. Today, it is commonplace for us to speak to our devices via the voice, use gestures in Virtual or Augmented Reality environments, and carry technology around with us in wearable gadgets. This – and more – encompasses spatial computing.
Spatial computing, then, is a broad term used to denote the way we interact with computers in our surroundings. In spatial computing, machines are no longer contained to a single location, but instead occupy the space around us. This applies equally to devices in the physical world, or to virtual reality settings. Spatial computing unleashes technology from the single, inflexible interface of a screen and brings it out into the wider world.
Freeing computers from the confines of immobile hardware has incredible potential for the technological developments of the future. Spatial computing could make it possible for us to interact with virtual 3D projections of our family and friends, or talk to robots who independently roam the streets of our towns and cities. Slowly but surely, we can expect to see the integration of computers into our natural environments and social contexts. Some machines will alert us to their presence, but others will work autonomously in the background, getting on with important tasks.
In some ways this could be seen to be a goal of spatial computing: the seamless integration of technology into our physical and virtual spaces to such a degree that we don’t even know it is there.
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