Spatial, Nreal and Qualcomm Partner on Holographic Collaborative AR
This week, Spatial revealed a new initiative in partnership with various companies as part of a bid to speed up the mass-market adoption of 5G-optimized Augmented Reality collaboration tools.
With 5G adoption accelerating across the globe, we are going to see more 5G-compatible devices hitting the market in the subsequent years. As a result, we are seeing more players increasingly seeking to apply 5G technology across various use-cases including Augmented Reality collaboration.
Spatial and Nreal are partnering with Qualcomm, KDDI, LG Uplus as well as Deutsche Telekom to develop a new collaborative holographic AR platform. The companies will work together and share the technical requirements as well as best practices with Spatial’s device-agnostic collaboration software and with the Nreal’s latest mixed reality headset, Nreal Light. This will create the first 5G combination. Spatial is also looking forward to making the platform available on consumer 5G devices in the coming months.
Spatial’s holographic collaboration software is quite impressive. It allows lifelike 3D avatars to communicate with one another inside the virtual workspace. The user must be wearing one of the nine supported devices to participate in the holographic collaboration.
The partnership with Nreal and the three other cellular networks is aimed at bringing the collaborative Augmented Reality solution into the mainstream mass market through the next-generation 5G-enabled devices.
Spatial demo’d the app last year during the CES 2020. You can check it out in the video below. The app creates a 3D avatar from a 2D photo in a matter of seconds. It also employs various tricks to translate the user’s limb movements as well as speeches into realistic gestures and lip motions. It enables users to communicate with one another in a very realistic fashion through their 3D avatars. The app can even display whiteboards and some of the most common types of digital files within the virtual workspace and stream the group content to non-participants.
The new partners will each bring forth a crucial component to the table to make this a reality. Spatial and Nreal have been optimizing the Spatial software for the affordable Nreal Light AR glasses that use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 or Snapdragon 865-based smartphone for its computing needs and deliver stereo displays and audio to users.
The three carriers involved in the partnership are Japan’s KDDI, Germany’s Deutsche Telekom and South Korea’s LG Uplus. These will each offer the high-bandwidth and low-latency 5G network connectivity that is required for Spatial’s software to run smoothly on 5G-enabled devices without any network hitches. The carriers will also provide the storefronts where the Nreal Light AR glasses and other required Android-based smartphones can be purchased.
The partnership provides all the ingredients needed to push AR forward: hardware, chipset as well as the carrier giants to provide 5G connectivity. According to Spatial CEO Anand Agarawala, Nreal Light’s lower price point of $500 and the support of the 5G carriers has the immediate impact of “throwing jet fuel into the fire” of the pre-existing interest in AR by the Fortune 1000 companies.
The group expects the new version of Spatial, cellular Nreal-powered, to increase accessibility and rope in more users into the collaborative AR space while leveraging the 5G connectivity to support very complex 3D content along with a much wider range of content formats.
There are other platforms that run Spatial software such as the Oculus headsets, Magic Leap One, Microsoft’s HoloLens, iPhones as well as desktop computers. However, these platforms are still largely based on Wi-Fi connections and other input accessories. With Nreal, Spatial says users will be able to entirely cast away their computers and utilize an entire virtual room as screen, keyboard and mouse while the connected phone serves as a PC.
The Nreal Light AR headset is currently available as a developer kit for $1,200. In the coming months, a less expensive consumer version will also be released to the market. Spatial has stated that its platform will be on consumer 5G devices later in the year.