With Apple’s highly anticipated Vision Pro headset hitting stores on Friday, you’ll probably start to see more people wearing the futuristic glasses that are supposed to usher in the era of “spatial computing.”
It’s an esoteric mode of technology that Apple executives and their marketing gurus are trying to bring into the mainstream. This while avoiding other more commonly used terms such as “augmented reality” and “virtual reality” to describe the transformative powers of a product that is promoted as potentially monumental like the iPhone that came onto the market in 2007.
“We can’t wait for people to experience the magic,” Apple CEO Tim Cook gushed Thursday while discussing the Vision Pro with analysts.
The Vision Pro will also be among Apple’s most expensive products with a price tag of $3,500, a price that has most analysts predicting the company could sell only 1 million or fewer devices during its first year. But Apple only sold about 4 million iPhones during that device’s first year on the market and now sells more than 200 million of them annually, so there’s a history of what initially appears to be a niche product becoming something that is entangled in the way people live and work.
If that happens with the Vision Pro, references to spatial computing could become as ingrained in the modern vernacular as mobile and personal computing, two previous technological revolutions that Apple played an integral role in creating.
So what is spatial computing? It is a way of describing the intersection between the physical world around us and a virtual world manufactured by technology, while allowing humans and machines to harmoniously manipulate objects and spaces. Performing these tasks often incorporates elements of augmented reality, or AR, and artificial intelligence, or AI, two subsets of technology that are helping make spatial computing a reality, said Cathy Hackl, a longtime industry consultant who now runs a startup working on applications for Vision Pro.
“This is a crucial moment,” Hackl said. “Spatial computing will allow devices to understand the world in a way they have never been able to before. It is going to change the interaction between humans and computers and eventually every interface (be it a car or a watch) will become spatial computing devices.”
In a sign of excitement surrounding Vision Pro, more than 600 newly designed apps will be available for use on headphones immediately according to Apple. The range of apps will include television networks streaming video services (although Netflix and Google’s YouTube are notably absent from this list), video games and various educational options. On work front video conferencing service Zoom along with other companies offering online meeting tools have also created apps for Vision Pro.
But Vision Pro could expose another troubling side of technology if its use of spatial computing becomes so compelling that people start seeing life differently when they’re not wearing headphones; believing life is much more interesting when they do. They see through glasses.. That scenario could worsen screen addictions endemic since iPhone’s debut deepening isolation digital dependency tends cultivate.
Apple isn’t alone prominent technology company working on spatial computing products For past few years Google has been working three-dimensional video conferencing service called “Project Starline” relies “photorealistic” images “magic window” make two people sitting different cities feel like they are same room together But Starline hasn’t yet widely released Facebook’s parent company Meta Platforms has also been selling Quest headsets years which could be seen platform for spatial computing although company has far not positioned device way
Vision Pro backed by company marketing prowess customer loyalty tend spark trends
Although it could be considered breakthrough if Apple realizes vision with Vision Pro concept spatial computing has been around least 20 years In 132-page research paper topic published 2003 Massachusetts Institute Technology Simon Greenwold argued self-flushing toilets primitive form spatial computing Greenwold supported his reasoning noting toilet senses user’s movement activate flush system participation space real human space
Vision Pro course much sophisticated than toilet One attractive features Vision Pro its high-resolution displays play back three-dimensional video recordings events people make appear encounters happening again Apple already laid groundwork selling Vision pro including ability record calls “space video” premium iPhone 15 models released September
Apple’s headphones also react user’s hand gestures eye movements attempt make device seem like another piece human physiology While wearing headset users also able use just their hands lift arrange series virtual computer screens similar scene featuring Tom Cruise 2002 film “Minority Report Spatial Computing technology starting adapt user rather requiring user adapt technology Hackl said Everything supposed very natural
It remains seen how natural may look if you’re sitting dinner someone else wearing glasses instead intermittently checking smartphone According source.