San Francisco –
When Apple’s long-awaited Vision Pro headset hits stores on Friday, more people will likely be wearing futuristic Googles that usher in the era of “spatial computing.”
This is a mode of esoteric technology that Apple executives and their marketing gurus are trying to push into the mainstream. This is an example of the use of “augmented reality” and “virtual reality” to explain the transformative power of a product that is being touted as potentially as monumental as the iPhone, launched in 2007. ” while avoiding other terms that are more widely used.
“I can’t wait for people to experience the magic,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said Thursday while discussing Vision Pro with analysts.
At $3,500, the Vision Pro will also be one of Apple’s most expensive products, at a price point where most analysts expect the company to sell fewer than 1 million devices in its first year. However, the first year that Apple sold his iPhone was only about 4 million units, but now more than 200 million units are sold annually. As a result, there is a history of what initially appeared to be niche products to become products of interest to people. Live and work.
If that happens with Vision Pro, references to spatial computing could become as deeply ingrained in modern parlance as mobile and personal computing. These are two technological revolutions in the past that Apple played an integral role in creating.
So what is spatial computing? It is a link between the physical world around us and the virtual world built by technology, allowing humans and machines to manipulate objects and space in harmony. This is a way to describe intersections. Accomplishing these tasks often incorporates elements of augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI). It’s a subset of his two technologies that help make spatial computing a reality, said Kathy Huckle, a longtime industry consultant who now runs a startup company. He is developing an app for Vision Pro.
“This is a pivotal moment,” Huckle said. “Spatial computing will enable devices to understand the world in ways never before possible. This will transform human-computer interaction and ultimately The interface will be spatial computing’ devices. ”
As a sign of the excitement surrounding Vision Pro, Apple says more than 600 newly designed apps will be immediately available on the headset. The range of apps includes TV networks, video streaming services (although Netflix and Google’s YouTube are noticeably absent from the list), video games, and various educational options. On the work side, video conferencing service Zoom and other companies that provide online meeting tools are also developing apps for Vision Pro.
But if the use of spatial computing is so fascinating that people start to see the world differently when they don’t wear headsets, and begin to believe that life is much more interesting when seen through goggles, Vision Pro It could reveal yet another disturbing aspect of technology. . That scenario could exacerbate the screen addiction that has become endemic since the introduction of the iPhone and deepen the isolation that digital addiction tends to foster.
Apple isn’t the only prominent technology company working on spatial computing products. For the past few years, Google has been working on a 3D video conferencing service called “Project Starline” that leverages “photorealistic” images and “magic windows” to bring two people sitting in different cities into the same room. It feels like you are there. together. However, Starline has not yet been widely released. Facebook’s parent company, Meta Platforms, has also long sold Quest headsets that can be considered platforms for spatial computing, but the company has so far not positioned its devices as such.
In contrast, Vision Pro is backed by companies with marketing prowess and customer loyalty that tend to set trends.
If Apple realizes its vision with Vision Pro, it may be hailed as a milestone, but the concept of spatial computing has been around for at least 20 years. In his 132-page research paper on the subject published in 2003 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Simon Greenwald argued that self-cleaning toilets were a primitive form of spatial computing. Greenwald supported his own reasoning, noting that the toilet “senses the user’s movement away and flushes” and that “the space the system engages is actual human space.” .
Of course, the Vision Pro is much more sophisticated than a toilet. One of the Vision Pro’s most appealing features is its high-resolution screen that plays back 3D video recordings of events and people to make it appear as if the encounter is happening all over again. Apple had already laid the groundwork for selling Vision Pro by including the ability to record what it called “spatial video” in its premium iPhone 15 models released in September.
Apple’s headset also responds to the user’s hand gestures and eye movements in an effort to make the device seem like another part of human physiology. While wearing the headset, users can also use just their hands to pull up and position an array of virtual computer screens, similar to Tom Cruise’s scene in the 2002 film Minority Report .
Spatial computing is “a technology that is starting to adapt to the user, rather than requiring the user to adapt to the technology,” Huckle said. “It should all be very natural.”
It remains to be seen how natural it will look to sit down to eat with others and wear goggles rather than looking intermittently at your smartphone.