March 4, 2019 infiniteretina

A New Definition of Spatial Computing: The Fourth Paradigm

Welcome to the launch of our Spatial Computing Agency, Infinite Retina, which offers consulting services and research, a new video series, a new newsletter, a new podcast series, new industry databases (coming later this year), and a new book, coming in 2020. Along with our consulting services aimed at helping companies and entrepreneurs build new Spatial Computing projects and getting them funded and launched, we are very apt to helping everyone truly understand what the new paradigm of personal computing will be.

As we searched Google for the words “Spatial Computing,” we realized that a new definition was needed. This fourth paradigm of personal computing is coming into clearer focus and many of the definitions that were written a decade ago need a fresh look through the frame of 2019.

We need a new definition as Microsoft HoloLens or Magic Leap’s ML1 are giving us tantalizing glimpses into the near future, with the technology underneath providing a raft of new capabilities including new kinds of cameras (for example, the new Spectre camera, released on iPhones last week, gives us a taste of how Machine Learning can be used to bring new capabilities even to existing cameras). We are seeing Spatial Computing showing up in everything from June Ovens, Tesla cars, to Skydio autonomous drones that cannot just fly above us, but pick their own flight paths through complex environments. And we could go on for many thousands of other examples of products and companies using these new technologies.

Also, a new definition is needed because Spatial Computing isn’t just for humans. Magic Leap, Artie, Fable, and others, have virtual beings interacting not just with the humans talking to them, playing with them, and working with them, but their systems have situational awareness of the new AR Clouds, and, even of other virtual beings and robots in these new environments. This is pretty crazy science-fiction kind of stuff, except that as we close in on the beginning of the 2020s, it is becoming real and will have deep implications on all corporations and humans.

To underscore this development of virtual beings, we visited with the founders of Artie, who are pioneers in this area. In our video interview, they detail their company’s plans, challenges, and business imperatives.

What are the technologies of Spatial Computing?

  • 3D and camera sensors to see the world.
  • Machine Learning and even more advanced AI to understand that world.
  • Systems that track both the real world, how it is changing, and the new “Mirror World” (we call them AR Clouds) and how they are changing, and, how the two fit together.
  • Prediction engines that predict what the next action might be of both humans and machines.
  • Optics and new kinds of displays to present a view of all this.
  • Sensors and haptics to enable humans to better interact with, be studied by, and control this new world.
  • New AI silicon chips that drive these engines.
  • New situational awareness engines that fuse all this data together and enable virtual beings that interact with all of this.
  • New content, entertainment, and games developed for this new world.
  • New social networking and collaboration that happens in this fourth paradigm.

You can see this in our interview with the head of Niantic’s Augmented Reality efforts, Ross Finman. If you don’t know Niantic, this is the company underneath Pokémon GO, which is the most-used example of Spatial Computing we know of to date. In this video he details how he sees this new industry and its uses in gaming, as his teams put the finishing touches on a new Harry Potter game that will come later this year. Expected users? Hundreds of millions, most of whom will see a new form of Spatial Computing on their mobile phones for the first time.

Spatial Computing is the future of the personal computing industry, and will aggregate literally everything else into it. That includes AI, including Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing, Computer Vision, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and all other apps that support the creation of and the maintenance of a digital 3D world, with the UX of the Internet to undergo major changes in the near future. All will be displayed in the optics of the Spatial Computing glasses you will wear, or new kinds of Holographic displays that will appear over the next decade on automotive windshields, new kinds of displays like the Looking Glass Display, and even contact lenses.

The definition: Spatial Computing is a series of technologies that can “see” and map the real world, understand it, and predict the next moves of objects within it, while doing the same for digital worlds that may or may not have ties to the real, physical world, all the while helping humans and/or machines navigate either.

While Infinite Retina really cares about AI, Augmented and Virtual Reality, and our partners are viewed as early adopters and valuable members of the community of people and companies that build such, we are seeing that calling this new world “XR” or “Mixed Reality” or, “Immersive” isn’t as satisfying as calling it “Spatial Computing.”

Why? Are the 3D sensing systems, like LIDARs that are being built into cars and glasses, “Immersive”? And what does “Mixed Reality” really mean? Finally, XR, and Mixed Reality come with Black Mirror baggage that Spatial Computing does not. These technologies should not be seen as scary, but should be seen as major new capabilities designed to help humans, not hurt them (although there certainly are downsides, and we will report on, and help corporations navigate the rough waters presented by them).

Irena Cronin, CEO of Infinite Retina, and Robert Scoble, Chief Strategy Officer, have visited many startups in this space and are working on a database that already has 5,000 companies in it, and our advisory board represents people working in many parts of the Spatial Computing industry from camera and sensor research to entertainment and cloud expertise.

Oh, and follow the money: we’ve seen there are tens of billions being invested in Spatial Computing by companies like Facebook, Magic Leap, Apple, Microsoft, HTC, and many others that we are under NDA with. We’ve never seen a spending spree in the tech industry like this, and it’s happening because of the promises of making computing far more personal, immersive, easier to use, and useful.

Our thesis is that for the next 24 months the first places you’ll see successful deployments of Spatial Computing are mostly gaming or enterprise uses, like surgery, logistics, mining, architecture, and car design, training, and many more. While we love playing games like Rec Room and Beat Saber in Virtual Reality, or Wonderscope or Pokémon GO in AR on our phones, we see a much bigger need as bigger companies, along with startups, bring new capabilities to market.

Even if you look at games, you’ll see that the people who fund a new round, or help them get noticed or get talent, are quite different than, say, the group of people and firms who brought us Airbnb, Spotify, or Instagram. We are building relationships with this new group and building new services around them, to bring their knowledge to new companies and projects that will bring new things to market.

Spatial Computing, though, isn’t just a way to make new companies or help older ones find new ways to cut costs or increase revenues. To us it’s personal. Robert Scoble’s son, Milan, is autistic and Robert is expecting these technologies to greatly increase Milan’s engagement with, and enjoyment of, the world. We talked with the head of innovation at drug company Pfizer and she told us that the company is doing research on Augmented and Virtual Reality on not just autism, but depression, pain, Alzheimer’s, and other health concerns. We’ve also talked with doctors who are using light to increase the perceptive abilities of athletes and others.

As these technologies become common we see huge changes for human beings. Some negative, like truck drivers who will probably lose their jobs to autonomous trucking, but many positive (the same trucks will have fewer wrecks and will use less energy and deliver things faster, and these technologies will retrain those same truckers much faster than educational technology has ever been able to do). These will assist us in living our lives, and, even present new wonderous entertainment capabilities.

We named our podcast, video series, and this newsletter “Spatial Computing Catalyst” for a reason: a rising tide lifts all boats, and our goal with all of these is to shine a light on the industry that’s building the fourth paradigm of personal computing, even as we work to build a series of services and, soon to come, research reports. We believe it’s one that will improve all of our lives.

We hope you do too. (Aside, this photo was from our first team meeting, held in the Palo Alto Apple store. Why? Infinite Retina got its name, in part, from Apple’s name for high-resolution screens. Spatial Computing will bring us all as many virtual high resolution monitors as we want, and we wanted to start our thinking about what Apple will do in this space – something that we’ll soon see an answer to as well).

– Irena, Robert, Marcelo, and Sam


Our CEO, Irena Cronin, and our Chief Strategy Officer, Robert Scoble, introduce themselves, and will regularly talk about the industry. Listen and subscribe here:


As part of our ongoing research and curiosity about the industry, We are doing video interviews with Spatial Computing entrepreneurs here:


Infinite Retina has already built more than 40 Spatial Computing Twitter lists:, with more to come! Every week we watch those, along with tens of thousands of other people and companies who are doing Spatial Computing work, and we will present the best of business leadership here from social media each week.

Twitter list of the week: Spatial Architects. People and companies who help architects design better buildings using Spatial Computing technologies:

Relevant Twitter posts:

Tipatat points at an interesting new book “The History of the Future” that takes us inside Facebook and its development, and acquisition of, Oculus Rift and Mark Zuckerberg’s AR/VR strategy.

Stanford’s VR lab links to a Wired article that presents new research showing that executives can be retrained to be more empathetic in VR.

Scott Stein at CNET (who did the best reporting about HoloLens 2 last week) has an in-depth interview with Alex Kipman, who runs Microsoft’s HoloLens group. In it he discusses his strategy for bringing HoloLens 2 to market, and what it might mean for Spatial Computing’s future.

Karl Guttag posts an in-depth review of HoloLens 2. He is an optics engineer, so he comes at the world explaining nits and field of view better than other analysts.

Niantic’s founder/CEO John Hanke, shows off its new multi-party AR platform, and says “This is one of those paradigm changes that happen maybe once a decade.” has a video of an interesting demo.

Charlie Fink shares part of his new book which covers Enterprise AR Use Cases.

AR Cloud pioneer Matt Miesnieks (cofounder and CEO of 6D.AI, one of several AR Cloud companies, and Advisor to Infinite Retina) gets bored on a flight and does an interesting Q&A about Spatial Computing.

Magic Leap announces its Indie Creator Program’s contest winners and it’s an interesting group of startups to watch.