Dhrumil Mayur Mehta

Dhrumil Mayur Mehta

My two cents on spatial interfaces

Why the current way of remote education is failing us:

COVID-19 hit the world in the last days of 2019. It changed the way the world functioned and almost everything went remote, education too. Remote education is something on which a lot of companies are working, and new things are coming up very fast. But even with such strong innovation in ed-tech, remote education just doesn't "feel right", because the experience that we get using the software that enables remote education, simply isn't good enough. "How can the entire experience of us studying in a physical classroom, be replicated to an online medium?", says every student studying remotely.

The problem

One of the problem that causes us to not have the remote learning experience as physical one, is described in this blog: Spatial Interfaces by John Palmer. John does a great job of showing us what the current industry software that we use all day lacks, and I too believe that it's true. To pack all the real-life experience into a two-dimensional pocket-sized form factor, the software has to give up on a lot of "experiences". Some companies do develop 2D software that gives a hint of the real-life experience in its usability, but that's not a high number. If we're moving towards a remote-first world, and if the software is something that we're going to use a lot, then we need something more in it. Not the features, but elevating the current experiences that we have on them. After reading John's blog, I was curious and got thinking, that why does current chat applications doesn't feel like how we talk to each other in person? There are so many chatting apps now on the app stores but why does not even a single of them comes close to how we chat in person? The missing element is spatial experience. Spatial experiences are added dimensions to the software, that brings in the spatial real-life experiences into them. For example, as John mentioned: If we're meeting every day for work via Zoom, why does it feel so different from how we meet in person? Why can't we look around and see things around, but just stare at a screen where sometimes multiple people talk together and one of them says: "You can go first". If video conferencing apps add some real-life experiences to their current software, it would be much easier for users to relate it to how they work in an office.

To add to the examples John mentioned, why are people more reluctant to shop clothes online, as compared to other stuff like electronics? Everyone wants to get the feel of the material, the texture, and the comfort of the cloth. And that experience cannot simply be replicated and brought down to a 2D online shopping app. We need much more than that to bring the experience closer to a real-life one. Quoting Kunal Shah of CRED here, we need something that brings us a "Delta-4" experience.

Gamification

People are not excited about their other work-related apps as much as they're about playing games. Games are an excellent example of apps that brings many but not all, real-life experiences. And so far it's been amazing. All games including sports, shooting, racing, community-based, have many real-life experiences included in them, by adding more and more spatial interfaces and features. And that's why games are called games and referred to be fun, and awesome, and entertaining. Have you heard someone saying that their favorite app to use during most days is Zoom? or Messages?

If we can bring spatial interfaces to games and make them more fun and entertaining, what's stopping us from adding them to all the apps that we use every day? And things will only accelerate once more people get into crypto Metaverses.

This was one of the best blogs I've read this week. Thanks, John for putting it up there.

If you're reading this, thank you.

Dhrumil