Towards A Spatial Web

Photo by note thanun on Unsplash

In a recent post, I discussed the many facets of web 3 and what a web 3 ecosystem looks like. In this article I would like to delve deeper into how interfaces and user experiences are changing. This is the world of metaverses, augmented reality and holograms — a move towards a 3-dimensional web.

This spatial interface layer of web 3 has two aspects — Augmented Layering and Immersive Spaces.

Augmented layering is about bringing virtual objects, data, and digital information into our physical environments.
The web enters into our world

Immersive Spaces is about bringing ourselves (as avatars) into virtual environments.
We enter into the web.

In both cases, The web is moving out from our 2-dimensional flat experiences towards a multi-dimensional user experience.

Interfaces Through Time

The first interfaces for computers were restricted to large data science labs and required engineers to manage and run. As computers became more accessible, the keyboard and screen was used to code in computer programs.

The GUI (graphical user interface) along with ‘the mouse’ was first introduced in Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (Xerox PARC) and eventually made it to Apple, first to the Lisa and later Macintosh computers, which offered the first mass-market graphical user interfaces. This was surpassed by Microsoft’s Windows but the interfaces (and GUI) were largely the same.

The computer mouse has always been an odd and unnatural device to use, which led to other types of weird devices like trackballs, stylus pens, and the joystick mouse.

With Mobile computing, we were finally untethered from the desktop PC and thankfully ‘touch’ became the new interface convention. If you want to know how much more natural touch is, consider giving a 3 year old a touch tablet and he/she will figure it out, however, if you give them a mouse and keyboard, they will likely use the mouse as a hammer.

As the web continues to evolve, the intent has always been to make computing more natural, to be more efficient in how we function and interact with computers.

Moving Beyond Screens

We live in spatial reality, but we still communicate with the web using 2 dimensional screens. This is now changing as we are starting to see new devices appear moving us away from our handheld smartphones:

Wearables like watches, ear pods, even clothing are starting to augment reality with new connections to digital information. Watches do a better job of health monitoring and fitness tracking because they are attached to us.

Wireless and portable ear pods make listening to podcasts, audio books, and lectures more accessible — in fact, I would say audio is currently my main form of web content consumption. Home devices like Alexa and Google home have also made it easier to connect to the web by simply using voice detection.

In my opinion, AR Glasses will be the biggest innovation since the smart phone. Imagine accessing information that is directly attached to objects in our physical spaces. This will change how we navigate, how we communicate, and how we learn about the world around us.

Wikipedia becomes a spatial layer of information on top of reality, rather than a textual document accessed from a global library.

Early prototype of Apple’s new upcoming anticipated AR glasses

The Spatial Web

The spatial web is the convergence of digital and physical to form a new kind of blended reality. Right now, those realities exist in different spaces with different communication methods. But Web 3 is a move towards a new interconnected reality with new modes of interfacing.

“This is a new kind of network, not merely one of interconnected computers like the original Internet or a network of interlinked pages, text, and media like the World Wide Web but rather a ‘living network’ made up of the interconnections between people, places, and things”
— Gabriel Rene

Towards A Spatial Web was originally published in AR/VR Journey: Augmented & Virtual Reality Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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