There are certain types of people I’ve never understood.
People who drink red wine at a dive bar.
People who fly the red-eye accessory-free — no eye mask, no ear plugs, no pillow, not even a melatonin gummy. Just risking it all on a flight attendant dimming the lights and bringing you a scratchy blanket.
People who wear sleeveless Patagonia vests. (What problem are we solving? Hot arms?)
But most of all: laptop-only people.
At every office I’ve worked in, 40% of the population eschews high-end monitors to hunch over a 13-inch laptop all day. They mystify me; I’m a dual-monitor junky. Maybe it’s an undiagnosed case of ADD, but context-switching between windows on a 13-inch laptop hurts my brain—especially when juggling writing and researching. It turns out I’m not alone: Several studies have found that dual monitors increase productivity by up to 50 percent.
So when I travel, I go through monitor withdrawal — the lamest kind of withdrawal there is. That’s why I was excited to get a hands-on demo of Spacetop — an augmented reality laptop that gives you over 100 inches of virtual monitor space.
The sci-fi tool of a digital nomad’s dreams
In late May, Sightful — a startup founded by former Magic Leap executives Tamir Berliner and Tomer Kahan — came out of stealth by revealing Spacetop, its signature product. I read Wired’s rave review and was bummed to learn they were limiting the beta to a small group of testers.
But then I got some good news — developers from A.Team, where I run marketing, helped build Spacetop. So I pivoted, used the situation for my own gain, and asked for an intro.
The wild, weird future of laptops
When Jordan Liff, Sightful’s Head of Customer Success, stopped by the coworking space at my Brooklyn condo building, I expected a whole song and dance before we got to the demo. Instead, he asked me if I knew my prescription, slipped some -2.5 lenses into Spacetop’s surprisingly sleek glasses, and let me sit down and explore.
The genius of Spacetop is that you’re just using a laptop — except instead of a screen, an enormous curved display appears in front of you that's way bigger than the 100” Spacetop touts in its marketing materials. You can move and pin windows, zoom in with simple gestures, and pin windows side-by-side. Like Apple VisionPro, you’re in Augmented Reality, not Virtual Reality. I could still see Liff as we talked, which allowed me to carry on a conversation without the disorienting feeling of speaking to someone in another universe.
Windows pin in your field of vision, so even as you get up and move, they stay in view. I could place an article I was reading right next to a Google Doc, a Hubspot dashboard next to a slide deck. Spacetop runs on its own OS, but that’s not a massive issue for knowledge workers like me who use cloud-based apps all day. I was peeking through the looking glass into a world where I wouldn’t spend hours cycling through layers of laptop windows every work trip.
The story behind Spacetop
What sort of people come up with a laptop with no screen?
Sightful’s founders, Tamir Berliner and Tomer Kahan, have two things in common: names that sound exactly the same to Americans, and a history of developing groundbreaking user experiences. They’ve built everything from the underlying technology in the Xbox Kinect to the iPhone’s FaceID tech to the Microsoft Surface's touchscreen. According to Kahan, they didn’t set out to create an AR laptop at all.
Instead, Berliner and Kahan focused on a problem: How do you make people more productive? Smartphones are powerful but limited — you can’t really code, use spreadsheets, or make presentations. Multi-monitor rigs are great for maximizing productivity, but you’re tethered to your office.
The laptop is supposed to be the best of both worlds but falls short. “It’s stuck between somewhat mobile, somewhat productive, but not truly both,” explained Kahan when I spoke with him over Zoom.
So they started a company to figure it out — with a process, not a product, in mind.
"We built a lot of stuff, a lot of prototypes, a lot of form factors. From day one, we had the user research lab, both in Israel and later on in the US and California,” explained Kahan.
The big aha moment came when the duo saw the X-Real AR glasses, which were light, comfortable enough to wear for hours a day, and delivered the right graphics to read text comfortably. They would make Spacetop possible.
As they worked to assemble a global team of top experts in their domain, they met A.Team’s co-founder and CEO, Raphael Ouzan, and bolstered their team with expert developers from A.Team’s network to help take Spacetop to the finish line. “This is a success story of enhancing our team with global experts,” explained Kahan.
After nearly three years in beta, Spacetop launched — generating rave reviews everywhere from Wired to Popular Mechanics. But they know it’s just the beginning.
The future of spatial computing
As I spoke with Kahan, I had one big question: How did he see Spacetop fitting into the world of spatial computing, which is suddenly red hot following the launch of the Apple VisionPro?
Kahan sees the excitement in the industry as a boon for Spacetop. They’re still in the early days, continuously testing and iterating on their product. And the excitement around spatial computing will likely accelerate a key breakthrough: getting normal, Warby-style glasses to work as the form factor for spatial computing.
“There's a lot of technology challenges there,” said Kahan. “But if we look 10 years further, this will likely land with us all with [A/R] glasses.”
Kahan believes there will be many winners across different use cases and sees Spacetop as pioneering a new category of productivity tools — the successor to the laptop as we know it today.
“We believe the next evolution of the laptop will be a spatial laptop.”