AWS Spatial Computing Blog

Exploring the Spatial Computing Spectrum: The Next Frontier of Immersive Technologies

As we move into a new era of technological advancements, it is becoming clear that the next frontier of innovation will be powered by spatial computing. Whether for gaming, film and media, simulation, or even the metaverse, companies across industries are racing to develop their capabilities in spatial computing. In particular, four segments of spatial computing are poised to drive innovation: 3D Content Creation, Games, Simulation, and Geospatial. By developing better tools and cloud services for each of these areas, spatial computing will open the door for new possibilities revolutionizing how people work, play, and live.

Teams at Amazon Web Services (AWS) are already hard at work building the foundation blocks of spatial computing. In this blog post, I will explore what spatial computing is and how, through 3D Content Creation, Games, Simulation, and Geospatial, AWS is helping to shape the future with this game-changing technology.

Defining spatial computing

Spatial computing is the combination of the virtual and physical worlds. It allows users to interact with digital content in a natural and intuitive way, by allowing our physical world to be virtualized and by overlaying virtual information onto the physical world. This combination enhances how we visualize, simulate, and interact with data in physical or virtual locations. In his post, “The Best way to Predict the Future is to Simulate it”, Amazon VP of Technology, Bill Vass, stated, “spatial computing is what powers collaborative experiences.”

Spatial computing crosses business lines and industry verticals. Use cases range from digital twins displaying real-time metrics, to Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) video games, or AI/ML models trained on laser scans of entire cities. While these use cases cross industry lines, they share similar core technology, specifications, workflows, and challenges.

Creating works of art

3D digital content creation is the backbone of spatial computing. AWS enables customers to spend more time creating ground-breaking works of art and less time managing hardware and render farms. Whether rendering next generation Computer Graphics (CG) shots for feature films, like “Avatar: The Way of Water”, or bringing on the best talent from around the world by moving production to the cloud, AWS solutions and services have empowered creatives to entertain audiences.

Media Services on AWS have been used by customers to create digital content and build live and on-demand video workflows for the biggest Hollywood productions. AWS Thinkbox Deadline is the industry standard for scalable and flexible compute render management. With Deadline, customers have been able to move from on-premise render farms to the cloud, allowing artists to iterate faster and turn around shots in hours instead of days.

Over the last few years, customers have moved from centrally located teams to teams that are distributed around the world. This has enabled studios to bring in the best creators despite living across time zones. AWS Studio in the Cloud solutions have served as foundations empowering studios as they migrate to distributed, global teams. Learning from these migrations, AWS tools and services have evolved to make it easier to use the cloud to create 3D content. AWS is focused on delivering core cloud infrastructure and resources so customers can accelerate workflows and more efficiently create the next generation of 3D content.

AWS is looking around the corner to see what is next. The cloud has been used by studios around the world to create moving works of art in hours instead of days. The lessons we have learned from working with our customers on these are being pushed further to bring more scalability, availability, and the compute power of the cloud for new forms of cinematic production, interactive experience, and video games.

Gaming at every scale

Video games have seen tremendous growth in the last five years and AWS has been there to help game developers of all sizes to scale and grow. From indie game studios like Blinkmoon Games to the biggest studios in the industry like Epic Games, both of whom are all-in on AWS, AWS provides the tools and resources necessary to scale games to global audiences.

Today, Fortnite, developed by Epic Games, runs almost entirely on AWS. Using tens of thousands of Amazon EC2 instances powered by AWS Graviton processors, Epic Games supports millions of players globally every day. This year, Epic Games worked with AWS to support more Fortnite players through AWS Local Zones. Now running on AWS Local Zones, players across central United States and Mexico will experience low latency gameplay with the new North America (NA) Central Fortnite region. At AWS, we are excited to see what Fortnite players will create as gameplay features and cloud services expand.

No matter the size of the team, Amazon GameLift can be utilized to provide dedicated real-time servers for session-based multiplayer games. Whether developers need full control and customization of the servers or lightweight, ready-to-go game servers that remove the heavy lift of the custom game server deployment process, Amazon GameLift can help teams get their games to market.

As use cases for real-time 3D experiences have grown from games into other business verticals, we have seen more customers turning to AWS for Games solutions. Our partner, Surreal Events, utilizes AWS to expand and scale end-to-end metaverse solutions to customers around the world. With AWS, developers building any type of real-time 3D experiences can bring collaboration at scale to their end-users as they grow their virtual worlds.

Simulating the future

In recent years, we have seen almost every business vertical adopt some form of simulation. Whether it is life sciences, financial services, oil and gas, design, engineering, climate sciences, or autonomous vehicles. As our systems grow increasingly complex, spatial simulations are key to providing insights into our physical world. In the past, spatial simulations were constrained to a single piece of hardware and scaling simulations to support millions of entities posed a nearly impossible task for developers.

This is why last year AWS announced a new simulation technology focused service: AWS SimSpace Weaver. With this new service, AWS developers are able to gain understanding from city-scale 3D simulations. SimSpace Weaver makes it easy to run large-scale spatial simulations in the cloud by managing simulations across compute infrastructure. This means developers can focus on building the simulations and applications instead of provisioning and maintaining cloud infrastructure. In addition, SimSpace Weaver provides integrations for popular real-time 3D engines so developers are able to create immersive, interactive experiences, allowing their teams to understand real-world scenarios.

Partnering with uCrowds, an expert in large-scale crowd simulations, we have shown the possibility of scaling, running, and visualizing real-world simulations, with millions of simulated humans navigating the streets of Las Vegas, NV. By simulating at this scale, our teams gained a better understanding of the impact that population spikes have on our physical city infrastructure.

To paraphrase Amazon CTO, Werner Vogels, from AWS re:Invent 2022, we think simulation is crucial as lines are blurred between physical and virtual and we hope developers begin simulating everything.

Locating geospatial data everywhere

Throughout history maps have been pivotal in defining new frontiers and will continue to be with enhancements from spatial computing. In our interconnected world, maps define routes, locations, and fences for goods and services. The geospatial data provided by maps has become increasingly important as businesses navigate cities, track packages, and route vehicles or fleets of autonomous last-mile delivery robotics.

In 2021 AWS announced Amazon Location Service, a fully managed service that helps developers easily and securely add maps, points of interest, geocoding, routing, tracking, and geofencing to applications without compromising data security, user privacy, or cost. Amazon Location has added location functionality for use cases ranging from map-based visualization, resource tracking, delivery, and location-aware user engagement with geomarketing.

AWS is not stopping at maps. To bring increased understanding, insights, and contextual information to applications, AWS has also expanded Amazon SageMaker, allowing developers to build, train, and deploy ML models faster using geospatial data.

Labeling of LIDAR data within SageMake Ground Truth


Combined with the AWS Open Data Program, terabytes of open-source LiDAR point cloud data can be used to train AI/ML models for new geospatial workloads. Whether training a fleet of autonomous vehicles, delivery robots, or looking to gain insight from the physical world, Geospatial ML with Amazon SageMaker empowers development teams to analyze geospatial data and explore model predictions with an interactive map using 3D accelerated graphics.

With spatial computing, the next generation of applications will bring deeper insights and contextual data to the physical world around us. AWS services, like Amazon Location and SageMaker, are already being used by developers to overlay our virtual world on our physical.

Looking forward & driving innovation

The spatial revolution is already underway, led by AWS customers of all sizes and across all business lines. With 3D contextual data and the power and scale of the AWS cloud, our virtual and physical worlds are becoming seamlessly combined driving change in how we work, live, and play. As AI/ML becomes more accessible, generative AI services on AWS could allow anyone to become a creator extending our physical world with 3D virtual content.

Through four technology segments, 3D Content Creation, Games, Simulation, and Geospatial, AWS is working with developers to shape the future. As AWS teams look to the future, we aim to pioneer new tools and cloud services that will push the envelope for the next frontier of technological innovation, empowering developers everywhere to build the future.