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spatial intelligence

Contributor(s): Laura Fitzgibbons

Spatial intelligence is the concept of being able to successfully perceive and derive insight from visual data. This cognitive process is known as an aptitude for understanding visual information in the real and abstract word as well as an innate ability to envision information. People with this spatial ability can usually create effective images that explain concepts and design prototypes that incorporate spatial reasoning. The term may also be seen as visual intelligence and is often used in relation to location intelligence (LI).

Types of intelligence

In the study of psychology, spatial intelligence is considered one of nine multiple intelligences:

  1. Musical-rhythmic intelligence
  2. Visual-spatial intelligence
  3. Verbal-linguistic intelligence
  4. Logical-mathematical intelligence
  5. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence
  6. Interpersonal intelligence
  7. Intrapersonal intelligence
  8. Naturalistic intelligence
  9. Existential-moral intelligence

Together, these nine characteristics differentiate the human brain from other animals or entities. While this theory was first proposed by the psychologist Howard Gardner, it has now been adapted to other fields such as education, networking and machine learning.

Importance of spatial intelligence in technology

Spatial intelligence plays a crucial role in technical systems and software that aim to learn position-based information and update its behavior accordingly. Systems with spatial intelligence often have a complex infrastructure and are comprised of microlocation and data analytics functionalities.

Software and hardware that incorporate spatial intelligence are more precise than GPS or radio-based solutions, are less expensive than camera-based location systems, do not require lighting components and are able to achieve location with scale down to the millimeter. Due to this, spatial intelligence is a popular choice for integrating into small robots or wearable technology.

Examples of spatial intelligence

A few examples of applications for spatial intelligence include:

  • Telecommunications- Can be used by communications providers to perform network planning and design and identify network boundaries.
  • Augmented reality- Can be used to make hyper-precise modifications to the perceived visual world through devices like augmented reality glasses.
  • Government- Can be used by governmental departments to perform a variety of tasks such as electoral redistricting, urban planning, mapping, address validation and construction site selection.
  • Retail- Can be used by retail companies to identify where stores should be opened, conduct market analysis and pinpoint under-performing geographic areas.
  • Transportation- Can be used by transportation departments to monitor public transportation routes and plan new developments.
This was last updated in July 2019

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