The virtual collaboration tool known as Spatial has consistently been one of our favorites due to its ability to leverage high-end augmented reality headsets to more easily facilitate remote meetings.
Well, now the product just took a massive leap forward by allowing anyone with a smartphone to join in on these virtual meetings.
On Tuesday, Spatial rolled out iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android versions of the Spatial app. So now, a group of users can meet across devices including the HoloLens, the Magic Leap 1, a desktop or laptop computer, the Oculus Quest 2, and any ARKit or ARCore enabled smartphone.
But rather than just allow smartphone users to peek in on these virtual meetings, these mobile users can actually join in using 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 room.
And if the virtual room environment is a bit too closed in for your tastes, you have the option of moving the experience, including avatars, virtual whiteboards, and presentation materials, into your own space via AR. I took the system for a spin last week and it works as promised. Using just your finger to navigate around the virtual room you’re afforded the same kind of interaction and movement available when using the app on the HoloLens and on Magic Leap 1.
The other important feature added to the mobile version is the ability to set the app to only focus on one virtual person at a time, thus eliminating the need to look around and try to figure out who might be speaking during a packed meeting.
“This is a huge step for spatial computing and for us in solidifying our leadership as the leading AR/VR collaboration tool on the market today,” said Anand Agarawala, co-founder and CEO of Spatial. “Previously only people with a headset could experience the true magic of Spatial but we wanted anyone to be able to take advantage of it. Now, you simply hold up your phone and for the first time ever can become an active part of any virtual meeting and see life-like avatars of coworkers or friends right in your living room.”
Something tells me that the team might have held this back a while longer while letting the AR and VR versions grow organically, but in the year of the pandemic, there’s no time to hold anything back, so this release is a well-timed hyper distribution of a tool that, in my view, is probably the best virtual collaboration tool in the space, when you’re ready to move beyond mere video.