What’s Space Got To Do With It?

Today for every problem that exists in our world, there appears to be a StartUp dedicated to offering a solution with a digital footprint. For entrepreneurs looking to take up the challenge of spatial computing, which problem currently deserves the most attention?  Devise VR experiences to assist people suffering from Hemispheric Neglect?  Analyze patterns of urban noise pollution?  Design clean and safe portable homes for refugees? [See future XPrize challenge for innovative housing: http://www.xprize.org/prizes/future-prizes/innovative-housing]

In matters of making sense of human mobility on large scales, AI engineers are joining with space designers to imagine new worlds where we, as bodies moving in space, will generate enough information to keep super computers like Watson super busy.  Using tools of spatial computing and Virtual Reality, teams can now take into account depth of field, the proxemic distance between moving bodies and navigational paths followed from panoramic 360 perspectives.  Whether we’re talking about design and data collecting from the perspective of Google Earth or movement in virtual game environs, spatial computing has become the methodology du jour.

Or so says Martin Shubert, VR designer at Leap Motion and speaker at the VRLA Expo 2017.  In Shubert’s estimation, the virtues of spatial computing are best revealed in content generated for Virtual Reality experiences. These experiences, he claims, depend upon design composition —  form/space, light, scale, organization and materiality.  Shubert, for the record, is a graduate from the University of Southern California School Architecture.

At RotoLab we have taken the time to think through the design virtues of spatial computing even going so far as to write a white paper on the future of the “Virtual Architect* and to incubate a company Second Studio addressing Shubert’s claim (see our Ventures).  Key to our musing?  We are informed by the neuroscience of architecture and new information distribution technologies and have many questions about how we translate generations of embodied knowledge of human movement into digital code.

At present, our questions give rise to our Enchanted Urbanism initiative, allowing us to organize cross-sector teams to dive into research on smart cities.  Inspired by lessons from nature, robotics and neuroscience, we’re curious about emergent networks that unfold through use.  We welcome your insights and questions and look forward to sharing more.  BTW, speaking of neuroscience, check out the upcoming Conscious Cities conference in London. 

*Nels Long, M A Greenstein, Michael Rotondi, “GamerLab:  Rethinking Design Education,” MIT LINC Proceedings 2016 https://linc2016.mit.edu/files/2016/08/LINC-Proceedings-2016-1.pdf  (scroll to 174 in the pdf)

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