Spatial’s virtual collaboration comes to Oculus Quest and a slew of other platforms.
Spatial, a VR & AR workspace platform that lets you and your colleagues collaborate together in a virtual co-working environment no matter your location, has announced that they will be opening access to their premium level enterprise services to everyone 100% free-of-charge in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
I experienced first hand how powerful the platform is at a Microsoft HoloLens 2 launch event last year in NYC. During my demo, I was standing in a physical room with Jacob Lowenstein, VP of Business Development for Spatial, as he guided me through Spatial’s impressive virtual platform. Also in the virtual room was Bri Scully, who was joining us from a different location. Throughout the demo, the three of us were able to share digital assets such as images, 3D objects, and websites with one another; we even worked together on creating a lunar lander scene in AR.
Unfortunately, dedicated AR headsets are still very pricey. As schools and employers continue to explore virtual communication alternatives in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 quarantine, people are in desperate need of an easier and more affordable way to access these virtual co-working spaces.
In order to stay ahead of the adoption curve, virtual co-working platform Spatial is now offering its services free to all users on multiple devices and platforms, allowing you and your team to sit in on virtual meetings without having to worry about device compatibility or any lengthy downloads.
To do this, Spatial has launched an official webVR version of its app that allows anyone to enter a Spatial AR/VR workspace by clicking on a link; absolutely no downloads or AR/VR headsets required. Once you click the link you’ll be asked to create a username, afterwhich you’ll jump straight into the meeting. The webVR release is compatible on a wide variety of devices, including iPhone, Android devices, PC, and Mac, which is huge. Virtual spaces such as AltSpace and Engage both offer webVR support, though only for PC.
The company has also revealed that a dedicated Spatial app will be heading to the most widely available XR device today, the Oculus Quest (previously only available in private beta).
I actually met up with Lowenstein via the Spatial platform using my Oculus Quest, along with Jinha Lee, Co-founder and Chief Product Officer for Spatial, to talk about their platform and their decision to make Spatial free to all users. The first thing I noticed was how similar the Quest version was to my original HoloLens 2 demo. The Spatial experience on Quest is just as incredible as its mixed reality counterpart, and navigating the environment using our avatars felt incredibly easy.
I should also note that in the meeting was their press agent, Lucy Goss, who was in-world via a live video feed using the camera on her computer. She could have also used the camera on her mobile phone if she wanted to.
During our virtual hangout, Lowenstein said, “COVID-19 will probably change things forever. The world has been forced into a work from home experiment.” He continues, “Working from home will become the new normal. It can be amazing but it can also be very problematic. With Zoom burnout and people working within the same four walls, day-in-and-day-out. Working in AR and VR is going to be a huge antidote to that. It’ll allow you to feel like you’re in other spaces. Have a deeper sense of presence and closeness with your co-workers.”
Lowenstein is right, the level of immersion in Spatial is incredible. The platform gives you true virtual presence, whether it’s in AR or VR. You feel like you’re there with your team.
I’m also impressed by how intuitive the experience is. The menu is super easy to access with all the tools strategically placed in front of you; just press the virtual button in front of you and the menu opens right up. From there, you’re able to access different tools and perform a variety of actions. You can use the virtual pen to write out information in the air, import important documents, and access external websites via the browser.
Spatial currently allows up to 25 to 30 people per room via an avatar or video. You also have the ability to easily create and jump into break-out rooms without having to log out of your current session, no matter how you are joining the room.
“The whole idea behind Spatial is to get rid of all of that friction. They can teleport and be with people anywhere and work the way you want to and they way it should be,” said Lowenstein.
During my VR demo, I was able to pick up objects and and manipulate their sizes. Lowenstein showed me how you could use your voice to search for 3D assets. At one point the company’s Co-founder, Lee, pulled in an actual store environment, where we could walk through the aisles and see how products looked on the shelves. At one point he brought in an entire beach side city block complete with numerous cars and a wonderful boat dock to explore.
When it comes to Spatials client list, they already have some pretty big names using the platform as part of their workforce collaboration, including Pfizer, Nestle, Purina, and NASDAQ just to name a few.
“What’s unique about Spatial is that they’ve found a way to enhance in-person conversations while remotely working,” said Nathan Yorgey, Director of Digital Innovation at Pfizer. “From Teams and OneDrive integration, to the ability to interrogate 3D modeling, to the life like avatars, Spatial exceeds the boldest expectations for remote meeting productivity and engagement.”
The launch of Spatial’s free premium level enterprise services comes with several new features that support a simple and seamless experience for anyone, across any device, include:
Usability for first time users – Tutorial room that helps people get up to speed with the basics of AR/VR collaboration and gestures; simplified menu redesign focusing on discoverability and ease of use for new users.
Access on any device – Users can access a meeting from the web, with one simple click. Start collaborating in a live 3D workspace and contribute by uploading and accessing 2D and 3D files – no download or headset required. Unified UI on web and headset for streamlined cross-platform experience.
Seamless sharing – Share any Spatial room with teammates via a link, where you control accessibility options.
If you’re interested in knowing more or if you want to sign up for Spatial Pro, go to Spatial.io, click sign up, and follow the instructions on how to download for your headset or join directly from your desktop or smartphone.
In addition to enterprise, Spatial has also begun looking into how their tool can play a role in education, whether it be K12 or college.