In June members of the UNDP met at Magic Leap's London Offices for some demonstrations of the company's cutting edge technology. The UNDP has been in conversation with Magic Leap discussing the idea of using spatial computing to help with their ongoing mission and particularly to highlight climate change but when exploring the possibilities of the Magic Leap One, seeing truly is believing.
Quote from Cassie- her impressions of seeing Magic Leap device.
No one is more aware than the UNDP of the difficulties getting people excited about environmental damage or take climate change seriously. One of the main reasons is that the bulk of climate change takes place in places that are far removed from our daily lives.
The ice caps at the North Pole might be melting at an alarming rate but most people can't see them and they have very little impact on our daily lives. Who cares what changes are taking place deep within the Atlantic, thousands of miles away from home when we have never even been there?
Advances in spatial computing offer effective ways to change all of this. Today, we have the technology that allows people to swim with the fishes under the ocean and see the world from the eyes of the plants and animals in the Amazon forest.
So many of the challenges in our efforts against climate change are about information - how we communicate, how we process information, how we make sense of the world. UNDP and Magic Leap are planning a collaboration to revolutionize this side of the fight - spatial computing.
Spatial computing is a new paradigm for computing. It starts from a headset with an array of new technologies. With a three-dimensional display and sound system, it brings your digital life out from behind the screen and into the world you live in. That data senses and responds to the world around you, and to your own movements and intentions. The result is a technology that merges the digital world with the world, aware of and respectful of both.
This technology can also unlocks the story hidden in this data, and delivers it in a way that builds greater empathy. Flat screens make it difficult to truly understand the impact of numbers - 1 million of anything is hard to conceptualize. But with immersive technology, anyone with a headset can see a million individual data points and thus truly understand the scale and magnitude of the data.
In this instance, using this tech truly helps underscore the scale of climate change and viscerally conveys the large impact it can have on millions of people. Immersion buildsempathy with the data, and the story it tells, helping the recipient more acutely and immediately feel the impact.
Climate change is a crisis which is often invisible, far away and in the future, somebody else's complicated problem. Spatial computing communicates what climate change really means - it can show at a glance what could happen around you in the coming decades, as average temperatures rise by up to three degrees celsius. It can show retreating glaciers, or vanishing coral reefs, or all of these - an animated, interactive globe showing these effects across the world.
Another problem is that climate change is made out of unthinkably vast complex systems colliding and interacting with each other and generating overwhelming amounts of data. With spatial computing we can demystify the masses of numbers - use 3d images and sound, visualize the data, to show how patterns in the data tells a story about what's happening in the world. We can focus that data down to create case studies for individual cities, and to learn how conditions in different urban centers affect their futures.
As the world's cities become more and more wired into the digital world, spatial computing will give us real-time awareness of a city - its weather, transportation, energy usage and more. This is a thing we call the Magicverse - the way spatial computing will empower individuals and communities to know about and interact with the datasphere around them. It's a tool for knowledge - we'll be able to learn how factors like emissions, land use and public transportation interact with the local climate. It's also a tool for action and public safety, as it allows us to be aware of changes and crises as they happen.
Speaking about the opportunities spatial computing offers, Magic Leap CEO, Rony Abovitz said, "Some dream of travelling to outer space, and to colonize other planets to preserve the human race. These are noble pursuits, and they capture the imagination. At Magic Leap, we see life here on earth as our first priority. There are endless problems we currently face: economic disparity, poor distribution of global healthcare quality, culture, misunderstanding, climate change, and war. To the extent possible, our goal is to develop the Magicverse to address some of those issues by amplifying human capability, affording greater economic possibilities, creating new forms of proactive healthcare, enabling creative joy and wonder, expanding the surface area and efficacy of human communication, and to embrace our physical world and who we are as a first principle. Some think technology will eventually become our master. We disagree. Technology should serve us, as individuals, and as collective societies. The Magicverse also allows all of us to create endless travels through inner space – our collective creative space – which for many will have equal, if not greater experiential potential than any form of travel we can physically evoke."
Finally, spatial computing is a tool for cooperation and change. Working against climate change requires global cooperation, across borders and across the globe. Spatial computing can allow people all over the world to be present to one another, to communicate and share the same workspace as if they were there in person.
It allows us to visualize the solutions we need - to look at a city and see the progress we need to see changes in infrastructure, public transportation and green spaces, and then see how those changes in the present will affect the future.
This last may be the most important thing. Climate change isn't a fun subject. We can spread that sense of urgency and the need for action, but we can also create hope, that sense that bad news isn't the end of the story, and the knowledge that if we act now, together, the future is ours to change.