Using the new Power BI — Data in space preview

With Data in space, Microsoft gives you the option to get an idea of what the future may look like. In an augmented reality experience, you can pin Power BI reports using Azure Spatial Anchors. In this blog, I’ll show you how this works and what you need to do to set this up.


Azure set up

First of all, it’s necessary to have an Azure Resource Group with a MixedReality provider. Otherwise, you’re not able to register the Azure Spatial Anchors.

Register the MixedReality provider to your subscription

When the MixedReality is registered, search for the Azure Spatial Anchors resource and create it:

Create the Spatial Anchors Account

Now we have the resource, we need to add users with certain roles. There are three roles within Spatial Anchors:

Spatial Anchors Account Owner: If you want to pin reports, you will need this role.

Spatial Anchors Account Reader: With this role you will only be able to discover pinned reports.

Spatial Anchors Account Contributor: Let you manage anchors in your account, but not delete them. In the Microsoft documentation about Data in Space, they don’t mention this role. I also haven’t tried using it, but maybe this one can also be used instead of the Account Owner.

To add people to the roles, go to Access Control and select Add role assignment:

Create a new role in your Spatial Anchors Account

Then, select the role (Spatial Anchors Account Owner), click next, and search for the person or group that you want to add to this role:

Add the user to the role

And then you’re good to go! The Azure part is done and it’s time to go to Power BI!


Power BI Admin portal

In the Power BI Service, navigate to the admin portal and go to Azure Connections. Here you’ll find a tab with the new Data in space preview. Select your Subscription, Resource Group, and the Spatial Account.

Create the connection to your Spatial Anchors Account

After you successfully connect your account, it should look like this:

Connected Spatial Anchors Account

Now you can let the users who are assigned as Account Owner (and have an iPhone) pin reports in the real world!


Power BI Mobile App

Pinning your report

Now unfortunately this only works with iOs so far, but Android support will be added later this year. In the mobile app, you need to open the report and navigate to the page you want to pin, and select the slicers you use. Viewers will not be able to browse through the report or change any slicer settings. After that, you go to settings and select the Data in space (preview) option.

The first thing you must do so is scanning your surroundings. By moving your phone, the depth of the space will be calculated so you can pin the reports on real objects. When the space has been mapped, you can move, resize, and turn your report, as you can see in the video below:

Scanning for reports

Now your users can walk around and discover the reports that are pinned. If the user doesn’t have access to the report, you’ll get a message saying that additional access is required, and you can ask for permission. If you have access, you will be able to view the reports as how the creator of the pin put them there. See the video below and see check the two reports we put in our office:


Summary

With Data in Space, Microsoft offers a nice Augmented Reality experience for Power BI, and works pretty well! During our first trial, we had some difficulties scanning the room, but we succeeded. For me, it’s nothing but a gimmick so far, but I can see great potential for the future when augmented reality will be more and more common in our day-to-day life.

Take Care.

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