Meetings in the workplace are unavoidable, no matter how much you wish they would be. How many times have you found yourself in a situation where you’ve been called to a meeting only to find out that what is discussed in said meeting could have been handled with a brief phone call or email? Think any time Michael Scott makes everyone go to the conference room for essentially nothing in “The Office”. On the other hand, how many of you have found yourself on a conference call or video chat and felt that an in-person meeting would have actually been more productive? I’m sure many of you have been here, but this can be difficult to do when you have team members working remotely or you’re working with people at other branches of your company on the other side of the country or half way around the world. This is where Spatial comes into play.
Spatial is a company that was created in 2016 that provides companies with an app that utilizes AR in order to hold virtual meetings. The way that the application works is that all members of a team, no matter how near or far away, are able to participate in an “in-person” meeting through the use of AR glasses like Microsoft HoloLens. All members of the meeting start off by taking a photo of themselves, which is then turned into an avatar that takes their place in the meeting when they are working remotely. The avatar is portrayed from the waist up and has arms and legs that function as they would if the team member were there in person.
Now that all members have their avatar, they join a virtual workspace that allows for all of them to exist in the same “room” and work as if they were meeting in a conference room down the hall. In these workspaces, each member is able to share and collaborate on a given project or task at hand. They are able to share information from their physical location and drop it into the workspace and have it displayed for everyone to see and work with in real time. For example, someone might have a spread sheet providing information on a target demographic and someone else might have the most recent artwork for a campaign or product that needs to proofed that they want to share with the other members. All that they have to do in order to share it is to drop it into the workplace and it will appear on the virtual walls of the space for all to see. Here they are able to easily talk through the information or observe the artwork while being able to better understand and see what the others in the group are thinking.
Here’s a quick video to give you a glimpse of how Spatial works:
Often times meetings taking place over conference call and video chat can make for difficult work. With a conference call it can be hard to tell whether or not the people on the other end of the line are giving the conversation their full attention or if they are only partially focused and trying to work on other tasks at the same time. While video chats give you the opportunity to actually see the other members of the group and can provide the opportunity of information sharing through screen sharing, it still isn’t the optimal way to meet. Much like a conference call, it can be difficult to tell if they are paying attention to the others in the chat or if they have other work pulled up on their computer of are just scrolling through a Buzzfeed article about the latest episode of Game of Thrones. Spatial understands the difficulties that come along with these types of meetings and is working to create an optimal platform that will not only be better for the individuals participating, but for the company as a whole.
While I don’t imagine seeing Spatial pop up in companies all over right away, I do believe it is a technology that many will invest in in the not so distant future. Sure, purchasing enough HoloLens glasses for a team to utilize will be somewhat costly, but I feel that the benefits outweigh the costs. By implementing the use of Spatial, companies could ultimately cut down on costs of having to fly employees to different locations in order for them to meet in person with other members of their group, since an in-person meeting is almost inevitable when it comes to working on a major project. The use of Spatial would also allow for these members to meet “in-person” on a far more regular basis which could lead to a more efficient finishing of projects.
The next time you walk into a meeting or jump on a conference call or video call, just think of how much easier and interactive Spatial could make it. I wouldn’t expect to see this in your workplace next week, but I’d definitely recommend keeping an eye out for it and seeing if it takes off and makes waves in how we traditionally meet and interreact with one another.