Introducing Power BI Spatial Anchors

The latest Microsoft Business Application Summit showcased some exciting new features coming to Power BI in the near future, and one that we’re particularly excited about is the announcement of Power BI Spatial Anchors.

Now, for a lot of you reading, that might not sounds all too exciting (and some might not know what they are), but this blog post will hopefully highlight what they can bring to the table and how they can vastly improve your insights and analytics.

What are spatial anchors?

To understand Power Bi Spatial Anchors, we first need to understand what the term ‘spatial anchors’ means. Spatial anchors refer to points of interest in physical space that can then be referenced by applications and services using physical locations.

The ‘spatial’ part refers to a physical location (or a point in space), and the ‘anchor’ part refers to that location being stored, much like a ship anchoring in the sea.

For example, if you have a picture frame hung up on your wall at home, then this is a form of spatial anchor – you have anchored (hung) the picture frame in a particular point in space (on your wall).

So what’s so special about Power BI Spatial Anchors?

Currently, Microsoft have an application available for their HoloLens device, which allows you to view to interact with your data in mixed reality, by layering your Power BI reports on top of real-world locations using spatial anchors.This means you can access your reports whilst in a specific location and navigate and interact with them using physical gestures via HoloLens, with something that looks like it’s come straight out of science fiction.

However, obviously not everyone has a HoloLens device, but most people do have a phone, which is what Power BI Spatial Anchors will allow you to use instead. This will essentially allow you to take out your phone and scan your surroundings to find reports you’ve pinned to the location you’re in. So your phone becomes a device showing reports augmented on top of the physical world around you. Not only does this look impressive and futuristic, but the power of it is huge and can be applied to a whole host of scenarios.

Take a maintenance worker for example, responsible for maintaining machines in a busy factory. They can walk around the factory floor and quickly use their phone to scan the area nearby, giving them access to detailed, powerful reports about the machines directly in front of them. They don’t need to keep going back to a desk to log into their PC, and they don’t need to search and filter reports to find the relevant information, it is there in front of them when they need it for that machine.

Or consider a retail scenario, where a worker can be walking past an entrance and immediately analyse footfall in a pinned report, or head on over to the tills where they can get a breakdown of queue wait times or revenue etc.

The power of a feature like this is endless – it puts analytical insights directly in the hands of frontline workers as part of their daily processes. The time to insights is reduced even further, empowering people to make informed decisions faster.

Power BI Spatial Anchors is due to be available later this year, so watch this space for updates!


If you have any questions about Power BI Spatial Anchors, Power BI, or anything mentioned in this article, please feel free to speak to us using our live chat, where one of our experts will be happy to speak with you in more detail.

Blog Author

Joe Sumpner, Senior Consultant, Simpson Associates

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