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Data in Space – An Exciting New Future
for Business Intelligence

Nick Hilton | 21 July 22 | 3 min read

Okay so today’s post is going to be slightly different because rather than go through a new feature that you drop into your reports, we’re going to have a peek at some new functionality which could change the whole way you access data. Or at least some of you, in some circumstances… As with any new functionality this isn’t going to work for everyone, in fact this one will only be for a specific few, but read along for a few minutes because it’s quite exciting if you’re a bit techy and nerdy like me, look at the new shiny buttons, and see what this could do for your organisation. If it doesn’t help at all then hey at least you’ve learned one new thing in the BI space today! That counts as work (best not check that with your boss though!)


Data In Space – What is it? 

As of the latest update if you open the Power BI Mobile app on IOS (the update will be coming to Android in the next few months) and tap the camera icon then you’re going to be presented with a new option, AR scanner. AR being an acronym for augmented reality, and very simply augmented reality essentially means seeing digital popups over the real world. Think of being able to point your camera on your phone at a piece of food and then seeing all the nutritional information pop up. This is much better than that though as this is our data and through it we’re making reports and visualisations pop up against spots in the real world, check it out in the image below:


Where might this be useful? 

My first thought is in manufacturing. A facility manager, for example, could walk along a production line, hold up a phone or tablet, and immediately see live reporting or other critical information. You could theoretically tie further automations in with Power Automate or Power Apps so that you could feedback specific comments on whether a machine was operating within certain parameters or not for example, or tap a button to extract a snapshot to your email.

How to use: 

1 – Power BI admins need to create an Azure Spatial Anchors resource in their Azure subscription and connect it to their Power BI tenant. They then need to assign users to roles that will allow them to save and search for Azure spatial anchors in the relevant locations. 

2 - Start by selecting the report you want to pin and select your filters and slicers. Once the view you wish to pin is ready, select Data in Space from the report header, check to see that the preview view shows what you want it to, and open the camera. 

3 – Using the camera find your space and then pin your report/visualisation to it, scale as preferred.


That’s it! Pretty simple really from the Power BI perspective.  

As with many new features in tech that try to introduce ‘new-realities’ the reality for them is that no one is really that bothered, but this could be one of those situations where a few select people find massive improvements in their day-to-day roles through this. Advancements in other technologies like smart glasses, headsets, and general mobile device improvements make taking advantage of things like this so much more likely too.


Maybe I’m just too into data and gadgets but I think this is highly exciting. Again, most people won’t get any benefit from this at all but there’s a select few roles where this ability to bring relevant data into the relevant real-world spaces is going to be a huge productivity boost and as technology improves that experience is going to get even more seamless.


My other idea for this is you could have HR reports filtered to employees’ desks, imagine if managers could look around and immediately see data on their employees performance appear above their heads! On second thought perhaps not, it’s all getting a bit too 1984… 

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