The virtual collaboration tool known as Spatial has always been one of our favorites for its ability to use high-end augmented reality headsets to facilitate remote meetings more easily.
Well, now the product has taken a giant leap forward by allowing anyone with a smartphone to participate in these virtual meetings.
On Tuesday, Spatial rolled out the iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android versions of the Spatial app. So now a group of users can meet on a variety of devices, including the HoloLens, the Magic Leap 1, a desktop or laptop computer, the Oculus Quest 2, and any ARKit or ARCore compatible smartphone.
But instead of allowing smartphone users to peek at these virtual meetings, these mobile users can actually join in with their own avatars. Simply upload a photo from your smartphone, or take a new selfie, and that image is then attached to a virtual body (with working arms!) That joins the rest of the group meeting in the virtual space.
And if the virtual space environment is a little too closed for your taste, you have the option to move the experience, including avatars, virtual whiteboards and presentation materials, to your own space via AR. I ran the system last week and it works as promised. Navigating the virtual room with your finger gives you the same kind of interaction and movement that is available when using the app on the HoloLens and Magic Leap 1.
The other major feature added to the mobile version is the ability to set the app to focus on only one virtual person at a time, eliminating the need to look around and try to figure out who could speak during a busy meeting.
“This is a huge step for spatial computing and for us in cementing our leadership as the leading AR / VR collaboration tool in today’s market,” said Anand Agarawala, Co-Founder and CEO of Spatial. “In the past, only people with a headset could experience the true magic of Spatial, but we wanted everyone to be able to use it. Now you just hold up your phone and for the first time ever you can actively participate in a virtual meeting. lifelike avatars of colleagues or friends in your living room. “
Something tells me the team may have held this back for a while longer while growing the AR and VR versions organically, but in the year of the pandemic there’s no time to hold anything back, so this release is a good one timed hyper-distribution of a tool that, in my opinion, is probably the best virtual collaboration tool in the space, when you’re ready to move beyond video.