Recently, Magic Leap had the privilege of participating in the 2019 Social Good Summit.
Presented by the United Nations, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Mashable, the Social Good Summit is a gathering of policymakers, scientists, artists and heroes in the fight against Climate Change.
Magic Leap Innovation Lead, Naomi Augustine took the stage with Achim Steiner (Administrator, UNDP) and Jude Ower (Founder/CEO of Playmob) to talk about how digital innovation and spatial computing can help them meet their Sustainable Development Goals. We also worked with the German Space Agency, Magnopus and BadVR to create on-device demonstrations for delegates and members of the UNDP, showing how spatial computing can illustrate many of these global challenges. A spatial data visualization from BadVR showing the ratio of land consumption rate to the population growth rate in Mexico City
It’s sometimes hard to get people excited about environmental damage or to take climate change seriously. The bulk of visible climate change happens in places that are far removed from our daily lives. The ice caps at the North Pole might be melting at an alarming rate, but most people can’t see them and they have very little impact on our daily lives. Who cares what changes are taking place deep within the Atlantic, thousands of miles away from home when we have never even been there? A data visualization for BadVR that shows the connection between vegetation and environmental risk factors in Amsterdam
Spatial computing can communicate quickly and vividly what climate change really means - it can show at a glance what could happen around you in the coming decades, as average temperatures rise by up to three degrees Celsius. It can show retreating glaciers on your tabletop, or vanishing coral reefs in your living room, or build an interactive globe to make weather patterns instantly understandable.
“Tackling the climate crisis requires bold action that integrates a diverse array of environmental, social and economic factors,” explained Cassie Flynn, Strategic Advisor on Climate Change at the UNDP. “Magic Leap and spatial computing help us to identify new patterns and perspectives. We have the potential to see connections that we couldn’t see before and chart an entirely new, more sustainable future.”
This act of communication is one of UNDP’s core challenges. No individual nation can do everything to fight climate change - it requires an international effort. This is a place where spatial computing can make a huge difference and the UNDP and Magic Leap are planning a collaboration to revolutionize this side of the fight. This data visualization from BadVR shows the connection between land surface temperature and green space in New York City.
Speaking about the opportunities spatial computing offers, Magic Leap CEO, Rony Abovitz said, “Climate change is a global process that impacts all life on our planet. We have a collective responsibility to take actions now that will protect current and future generations of all creatures who live together and depend on each other on our relatively small and fragile Earth. If spatial computing and our concept of a Magicverse can help raise climate change awareness globally, aid scientists in their understanding of complex data and systems, and make a positive change in creating harmony and balance – even a small step – then it is our obligation to help in any way we can.”
Spatial computing also matters because so many of our efforts against climate change are about information - how we process data and find the meaning in all numbers.
Climate change is the result of multiple systems interacting - the oceans, the atmosphere, ecology, and energy infrastructure are just a few. It’s a lot of numbers, an overwhelming amount of data. How do we look at it and see the parts that matter? And how we tell that story to other people?
When information is organized and shown the right way, it lets us visualize and work with that data more easily to find the patterns we need to see. But there are limitations to a two-dimensional display. Spatial Computing gives us data visualized with three-dimensional light and sound, in interactive displays that draw on real-time sources or simulations. That data, whether global in nature or at the individual city or even neighborhood level, can be part of a shared workspace, even for people separated by thousands of miles.
Imagine a display that can show what's going to happen and why in the city you live in,. Then we can make visual case studies comparing multiple cities showing us how their unique conditions - in geography, political situation, infrastructure - give us different ways of fighting climate change locally.
As the world's cities become more and more wired into the digital world, spatial computing will give us real-time awareness of a city - its weather, transportation, energy usage and more. This is a thing we call the Magicverse - the way spatial computing will empower individuals and communities to know about and interact with the datasphere around them. That real-time data lets us learn how factors like emissions, land use and public transportation interact with the local climate. It also gives us immediate feedback about the crises of public safety, and lets us respond quickly and effectively.
The potential for future applications is even greater. We can use spatial computing as a tool for education for the next generation of scientists and activists. It can create shared workspaces where people across the globe collaborate more effectively than ever before, present to one another just as if they were in the same room.
Last and maybe most importantly, spatial computing can be a tool for generating hope. It can be a tool for the UNDP to spread that message of urgency, but it also allows us to show how we can rise to the challenges - to look at a city and see right before our eyes the changes in infrastructure, policy, public transportation and green spaces we can make, and how they will mitigate the effects of climate change. It can show us that bad news isn't the end of the story and that if we act now, together, the future is ours to change.