Much of today’s technology is obsessed with things we see, from photorealistic computer graphics, through an increasingly advanced computer interface, to new and improved virtual reality experiences. Our senses don’t stop at our eyes, however, and sound is an equally important part of having an immersive and believable experience. With a focus on visuals, however, creating evolutionary audio experiences has traditionally been more difficult and expensive, leaving sound-audio creators to get a price even though they know what tools to look for. That is the situation that Spatial Startup is trying to address, with a suite of tools and services to make such sounds more accessible to both entertainers and professionals alike.
Spatial, more formally SpatialX Inc., has a place that comes from some well-known names in entertainment and technology. Co-founders Calin Pacuraria and Michael Plitkins, for example, hail from Apple, Palm, and Nest, respectively, among other industry experiences. Darrell Rodriguez, who is in charge of operations, had been at Electronic Arts and Lucas Arts at some point. Handling marketing and communications, Jennifer Bowcock previously ran global communications for Dolby, and was previously a prominent member of the Apple PR team with responsibility for the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Store global expansion.
The entire Spatial team brought their common experiences and knowledge together and cooked them – over nearly four years – what they say is the perfect recipe for a landscape that promises to be make your visual and interactive experiences more believable. Instead of making up a single piece of music, with Spatial tools it is possible to create realistic soundscapes that grow and reverberate in real time.
With that given, the only way I could become aware of what Spatial is, through experiencing for myself, was: I visited Spatial Out There and Oakland, CA. Was the trip worth it? Heck yes, I will expand in more detail in a follow-up article that will include my interview with the team – but for now, I will say that my experience with Spatial was nothing short of canceled study festival.
Spatial has tools and services for curing those audio experiences that scale from the simplest retail installation to the most sophisticated theme park. Spatial Studio, for example, lets you create audio scenes in full 3D, dragging various audio elements into roles in the virtual space, just as you would create games; although Spatial Control, meanwhile, is the iOS app that controls that installation at your fingertips. Finally, Special Service is the cloud-based platform that connects all of these together, allowing you to manage the entire soundtrack as a technological wizard.
At the heart of it all is the Space Reality Engine. Like a game engine, the Spatial Reality engine can deliver real-time audio scenes, dealing with any type of interference whether it be touch sensors or computer vision systems. It is designed to run on off-the-shelf macOS and Linux computers, rather than requiring standard hardware, with industry-standard audio equipment.
A M1-powered Mac mini, for example, is enough for up to 128 channels simultaneously of Spatial sound. The platform is also capable of driving not only audio, but even electronic and other elements to create the necessary barrier of credibility.
While there are tools like this, what is unique to Spatial is its flexibility and ability to scale according to any need or budget. Speaking of budget, all the tools are instantly available to everyone for free for non-commercial use by submitting your application on the Spatial website. You need a Mac running macOS Mojave or above – Intel or Apple Silicon – as Linux support and sensor integration are currently only available for typical Spatial customers.
In total, you could put together a system for Spatial for less than $ 1,000 if you are starting from scratch.
With that software and hardware, you could create anything from a spooky spy house for Halloween, to a block party gathering with a day out feeling on Coney Island. Venues can range from using just a handful of speakers at home or on a small retail retail floor, to thousands of all sizes scattered throughout a theme park.
From entertainers to pros, Spatial aims to empower creators to craft the complete package, immersing people in a realistic and believable audio-visual experience that will lead them to a world that they could have thought but possible. While they may not be the first to offer audio-visual devices, what could make the difference – and make audio experiences mainstream – is just as accessible and easy to talk to. the Spatial system.