April 12, 2024

Building reliable, human-oriented software for the spatial future

president of Flatiron Software Co.

From the first IMAX 3D films to the latest VR headset, it’s clear that there is a growing need to interact with technology in a more immersive way that goes beyond the simple tapping of the glass. Analysts have predicted that the global augmented and virtual reality market will see an annual growth rate of around 11% over the next four years, reaching a whopping $58.1 billion by 2028.

Although augmented and virtual reality have become household terms, the technology itself has yet to become mainstream.

So far, with the announcement of Apple’s Vision Pro and the use of spatial computing, the evolution of AR and VR presents a world of possibilities beyond gaming and entertainment. Instead, it is taking the next steps to revolutionize several industries through an emerging technology that will improve the way people learn, design, and interact with each other.

The future of spatial computing depends on its design

Spatial computing is the next shift in how the world interacts with technology beyond remote controls and screens. Users will increasingly interact with computer-generated environments as if they were actually standing in front of them. By merging the virtual and physical world so seamlessly, science fiction ideas are transformed into everyday encounters.

For software developers, this means mastering the tools and frameworks that make these futuristic experiences possible. Many want to become masters of Unity and Unreal Engine, the platforms that provide the infrastructure to build applications that leverage spatial computing technologies. This is an exciting change for those who both work and want to enter the software development industry, seeing their work transform the way users work, learn and play.

The responsibilities of this position will translate into the success of the technology. By training experts to navigate the tool in terms of functionality, but more importantly, use it to create safe ergonomic user experiences.

This transformation starts with making spatial computing human-centric. By design, it is paramount to prioritize an inclusive interface that understands the needs and behaviors of users with different abilities. Researching interface usability and iterative design processes are good ways to ensure that the technology is built according to the user’s needs.

Creating opportunities for regular feedback is also a crucial part of its development. Accessible channels for continuous user input to always refine spatial environments based on real user experiences. A crucial step for most industries that rely on input from their employees to know what works and what doesn’t.

Its framework will guide its use

Much is still being learned about this new frontier. This often leads to insecurities that lead people to tire of trusting new systems such as generative AI.

84% of people believe that security risks are the biggest concern arising from the system. However, their willingness to trust AI increases when assurance mechanisms are put in place.

As the world becomes more digitally dependent, industry leaders must look at ways to address these uncertainties associated with integrating emerging technologies at home and at work. Spatial computing workplaces require solid leadership to prioritize security and privacy.

Raising ethical considerations is the basis for building a relationship of trust with technology and its users. It can be built with clear communication about data usage and privacy protocols, ultimately demonstrating transparency. What is certain is that existing mechanisms that govern the real world should only serve as a temporary guide to navigating a new world we know little about. As our environment evolves into something new, the practices and frameworks that make it a safe space to live and play in must also evolve.

The future of spatial computing is mainstream

Ten years ago, Google was the first to undertake the mission of hands-free viewing of content through glasses, followed shortly after by the Quest and other competitors – none of which have become household items. Apple’s latest device aims to change that by joining its existing product line, such as the Mac and iPad, essential work tools that can be found in homes around the world and that present everyday use to the large market of Apple consumers.

The spatial computing industry expects that following Apple’s announcement, there will be increased investor interest to see more consumers and suppliers enter the growing market. A global market valued at just over $100 billion in 2023 is now forecast to triple in value by 2029.

Many industries are being proactive in staying at the forefront of adopting and investing in spatial computing technologies, seeking to position themselves as innovators in their respective markets.

The healthcare industry has made the most progress in using spatial computing to assist with medical training, surgical planning and patient care. For example, by integrating MR or AR headsets, surgeons can place CR scans on the patient’s body during surgery. This effectively helps the surgeon visualize anatomical data throughout the operation, thus reducing risks.

Although still in their infancy, apparel retailers are also turning to technology to improve the customer experience, including retail giants Walmart and Amazon, which recently introduced virtual try-ons combined with curated product recommendations to achieve the highest levels of engagement without losing sleep. become a physical store. Doing so can increase conversion rates by up to 40% while reducing the likelihood of a return.

The possibilities are wide for industries looking to integrate spatial computing as a tool for their teams and their customers. But at its core, spatial computing’s greatest impact and value will be in the way we use it to interact, both personally and professionally.

Putting people first

Experts are aware that the awe will fade and that the success of spatial computing will depend on the balance between practical use and dealing with the expected challenges. I expect leaders in this sector to drive technology in the right direction by adhering to responsible development practices while actively addressing concerns that exist around security, bias and privacy through appropriate frameworks.


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