The First Spatial Computer: Apple Vision Pro

Apple Vision Pro: Revolutionary Spatial Computer

In a world where technology constantly pushes the boundaries of both software and hardware, Apple has once again taken a significant leap forward. The unveiling of Apple Vision Pro at the recent WWDC event has captured the imagination of tech enthusiasts and industry professionals alike. But what exactly is Apple Vision Pro? Far more than a mere headset, Apple prefers to refer to it as the first "spatial computer" ushering in a new era for technology products in the metaverse running on a quantum internet.

This revolutionary new input system to revolutionize the way we perceive and interact with the digital and physical worlds. In this article, we  delve into the features and capabilities of the new Vision Pro headset, exploring what spatial computing is and what industries it could help advance.

What is a Spatial Computer?

Spatial computing represents a paradigm shift in how humans will engage with reality using technology. A spatial computer is a device which can create a virtual or digital world and simultaneously combine it seamlessly to the actual world in real time. No other product can do this.

We've endured cycles of incrementally better versions of the same VR technology for years.

Similar to virtual and augmented reality, spatial computing goes beyond that and builds upon the well-established concept of the "digital twin" in computer-aided design (CAD). In CAD, engineers develop a digital replica of an object, serving various purposes such as 3D printing, designing iterations, providing virtual training, or merging with other digital entities to construct virtual environments.

However, spatial computing takes the notion of "digital twins" beyond objects and simple 3D modeling. It extends to encompass individuals and locations or actual physical spaces. When it merges a real space with a virtual one seamlessly, mixing the twin realities it's known as spatial computing. Evolving beyond virtual and augmented reality inevitably leads to mixed reality.  For those hoping for a Metaverse that is a fully immersive experience, this is an exciting time. Apple happened to get there first.

Truly Immersive Experiences

In a world where people want to engage the metaverse fully one must. in a sense, leave the real world.  With a click of the crown button, a person can go from augmented to full immersion. Nothing else out there is designed to utilize spaces . In the "era of spatial computing" as CEO, Tim Cook put it, AR and VR headsets have officially obsolesced.

The first spatial computer effectively combines or mixes the real world with a virtual one. This mixed-reality or the convergence of the virtual and physical world is what Apple Vision Pro is made to provide.

This new mixed-reality headset obliterates the distinction between the real world and the virtual world and so it's not virtual really, and isn't merely augmented.

Science has conceded already, spatial computing is part of the the next big thing.

About the Price of the First Spatial Computer

We won't get heavy into the features in this article as we have in others, though consumers should realize that the closest competitor in the field has a product known as the Hololens 2.

Microsoft Hololens 2 does not claim to be a spatial computer. As the closest competitor to Apple, the Hololens 2 is an intelligently designed augmented reality headset specialized for making precise work hands-free and nothing more. While Hololens 2 does some, but not the more sophisticated things that the AVP can do, it is priced the same.

Apple left Meta in the dust potentially destroying its hardware business in one stroke. The Quest 3 is not in the same league anymore. If Meta's dream of bringing social media to the metaverse ( an immersive alternate reality) they were already passed by. Quest 3 by Meta is not any competition and to be fair to Meta, no VR goggles should be compared to the first spatial computer.  Quest 3 isn't a spatial computer nor meant to be one so its price doesn't matter.

The Quest3 is suitable for gaming and very casual (and non-text based) work if any productive type work at all.  The unit can't be used to read anything of considerable size and isn't suited to do that.

While many think it's expensive, the price of the first spatial computer is priced below what I'd expect given its hardware and is cheaper than VR goggles like the Hololens 2.

According to Appleconsumers are getting it at or near thecost to produce it, so there is room for the price to come down before release early 2024. 

Spatial Computer Microsoft hololens 2
Photo: Microsoft

By leveraging advanced technologies like GPS, lidar, video, and geolocation, spatial computing generates an intricate digital map of rooms, buildings, and even entire cities so it's not difficult to imagine This digital representation intertwines with sensor data and digital models of objects and people through intelligent software algorithms. The result is a comprehensive digital world that can be observed, measured, manipulated, and, notably, interact with the physical world.

You can watch content via Vision Pro in a floating window that you can adjust to your liking, and VisionOS will automatically dim the area around that window or you can place movie in an environment of your choosing. I got to watch a movie using the Cinema Environment, which made it seem like I was watching in a dedicated home theater. And a the movie experience is described as incredible and immersive.

This groundbreaking technology opens the doors to unprecedented possibilities. It enables us to create digital twins not only of inanimate objects but also of living beings and physical spaces. With spatial computing, we can gain profound insights into our surroundings, harnessing the power of observation, quantification, and manipulation. Ultimately, this fusion of digital and physical realms brings forth a new dimension of professional capabilities and opportunities like in mobile computing and in wearable tech.

Because spatial computing creates 'digital twins' of objects, people, and locations using advanced technologies like GPS, lidar, and video is easy. It enables precise tracking and control, optimizing interactions in both digital and physical realms. In medicine, it assists paramedics with real-time updates, route guidance, and surgical planning. Industries adopt spatial computing to enhance productivity, employing augmented reality and spatial maps for efficient repairs and remote operations.

Spatial computing unlocks limitless potential, revolutionizing human-machine and machine-machine interactions. It ushers in a new era of efficiency and advancements across various sectors. This groundbreaking device integrates artificial intelligence, computer vision, and simple human-computer interactions like hand gestures to create an unparalleled level of immersion.

Think of it this way: Apple did not set out to build the most expensive VR headset but rather to create at any cost, the first fully functional spatial computer. They succeeded.

Apple Vision Pro: A Spatial Computing First

At its core, Apple's Vision Pro is a spatial computer that leverages cutting-edge technologies to provide users with extraordinary experiences. With its fully three-dimensional user interface and intuitive inputs, the device allows users to manipulate and navigate the digital world with natural gestures and movements. The result is a groundbreaking fusion of the physical and digital, blurring the boundaries between the  reality and virtuality is now called mixed reality.

The Photos app is an integral part of the Vision Pro experience, allowing users to view their entire Photos library and interact with panoramic photos shot on iPhones. Spatial photos and videos, captured using the built-in 3D camera, enable users to relive their favorite memories in a fully immersive way.

Tight integration of hardware makes it more than the sum of its individual parts to paraphrase the head of project development:

  • two OLED 4K screens
  • M2 chip can power a MacBook Pro
  • 12 cameras
  • eye tracking - by tracking your eyes, you can just look around to point. Your eyes act as a mouse, and pinch gestures are clicks, your voice is the keyboard (speech to text).
  • personalized Spatial Sound
  • 5 sensors
  • R1 chip for seamless real time blending of sensory data

The spatial computer is so far the first authentic mixed reality experience. Even if you bought all the best of each of these devices separately: a 4K TV, a laptop, a VR headset, and so on, you wouldn't have what makes this product special which is the integration of them to turn one's surroundings into an "infinite canvas".

The field of view feels "100s feet wide". Real Objects are  3D realism at life-size scale. Facetime video calls will be will a life-sized image in the space where it appears it should be.

One of the key features of Apple Vision Pro is its ultra-high-resolution display system, which delivers stunning visuals that rival real-world clarity. It may sound like a lot (two TV sets) but isn't as damaging to the eyes as staring into two TV screens. The ability to read text quickly is essential and the displays are state of the art. This immersive visual experience is complemented by spatial audio technology, enveloping users in a rich soundscape that enhances the overall sense of presence. Apple's commitment to innovation is evident in every facet of the system, from its unique dual-chip design powered by custom Apple Silicon to its breakthrough industrial design that balances comfort and functionality.

The Role of Larger Spatial Technology

Spatial technology plays a pivotal role in the success of Apple Vision Pro. By seamlessly integrating hardware and software, Apple has created a cohesive ecosystem that maximizes the potential of spatial computing. The device's advanced sensors and deep neural networks enable precise tracking and interpretation of the user's physical environment, ensuring seamless interaction between the physical and digital worlds. By bringing it to consumers first, Apple is ensuring the technology will go mainstream.

Moreover, Apple Vision Pro opens up a world of possibilities for developers. The device offers a dedicated App Store, allowing developers to create and distribute spatial software solutions. From gaming and entertainment to productivity and collaboration, the potential applications of Apple Vision Pro are vast. Developers can leverage this platform to build immersive VR experiences, spatial photo and video editing tools, and even new forms of communication such as spatialized FaceTime calls. In a Facetime call, you can work together on a 3D document.

spatial computer
Photo credit: Microsoft

The new technology involves the innovative, so it may be developers and VR enthusiasts who fork over the cash until the cheaper version is released in 2025.

The VisionOS is an integral part of navigating the virtual space. The SDK is being released in late June for those hoping to develop with VisionOS. With all-new 3D capabilities and support for depth, gestures, effects, and immersive scene types, SwiftUI can help you build beautiful and compelling apps for Vision Pro. RealityKit is also deeply integrated with SwiftUI to help you build sharp, responsive, and volumetric interfaces. SwiftUI also works seamlessly with UIKit to help you build apps for VisionOS.

Like the WatchOS of 2015 Apple developers will this time be working in a new field of spatial computing.

Implications and Future Prospects

Apple Vision Pro represents the beginning of a new era in spatial computing. As the world's first spatial operating system, it sets the stage for widespread adoption of this transformative technology. By pushing the boundaries of what is possible, Apple aims to gather feedback and insights to refine future iterations of the device, much like Meta's approach with its Quest headsets.

Spatial computing seamlessly digitizes objects that connect through the cloud, facilitating interplay between sensors and motors. By digitally representing the real world, it combines these functionalities with precise spatial mapping. This integration empowers a computer "coordinator" to effortlessly track and govern the movements and interactions of objects as individuals traverse both the digital and physical realms. The transformative potential of spatial computing lies in its ability to enhance efficiency in various domains, including industry, healthcare, transportation, and residential settings.

As Apple's vision for spatial computing unfolds, the implications are far-reaching. From revolutionizing personal computing to enhancing the way we interact with the internet of things (IoT), and with artificial intelligence (AI), several world-altering technologies are emerging in interconnected ways with MR.

Apple Vision Pro is starting as a consumer product and paves the way to reshape entire industries, including gaming, design, healthcare, engineering, and education using the power of immersive experiences.

The era of the spatial computer in the post-iPhone era.

With its groundbreaking features and intuitive user experience, Apple has set a new standard for immersive technologies and we are all eager to watch it unfold.

Transcending the confines of traditional screen-based interfaces and controller, the new Apple Vision Pro is part of a spatial computing revolution, immersing users in a seamless blend of the physical and digital realms. With no hyperbole, the Apple Vision Pro will empower users to interact with digital content within their physical environment like never before.

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