Spatial goes free, aiming to become the Zoom of virtual collaboration
To get a real-world sense of how Spatial works, I jumped headfirst into the platform to chat with its CEO, Anand Agarawala, and chief product officer Jinha Lee. But before I could do anything, I needed to create an avatar on the company’s site. I snapped a photo with a neutral expression (as instructed), uploaded it, and within a few seconds, I had a creepy digital doppelganger blinking back at me.
I’ve had my fair share of VR demos — I was more intrigued to see how Spatial would translate its technology for web browsers. So I kicked off our meeting through Chrome while my Oculus Quest charged up. The onboarding process wasn’t any different than Zoom, Webex or any other collaboration tools: I clicked a personalized link and was thrust into a virtual living room alongside Agarawala and Lee’s avatars.
The 3D room looked a bit muddy, and the framerate wasn’t anywhere near 30 FPS (the bare minimum for smooth-looking 3D worlds), but I could still easily hold a conversation with both of them. My view of the room panned left and right automatically, so I could get a decent sense of the space, but there was no manual control of the camera.