Understanding Apple’s VisionOS and Spatial Computing

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Understanding Apple’s VisionOS and Spatial Computing

Apple’s recent introduction of VisionOS and the Vision Pro headset has left many wondering about the company’s intentions and goals in the realm of spatial computing. While Apple has not explicitly ventured into virtual, augmented, mixed, or extended reality (VR, AR, XR, or MR), it aims for a broader perspective known as “spatial computing.”

Spatial computing, a term not coined by Apple but rather by MIT graduate Simon Greenwold, refers to human-machine interaction where the machine manipulates references to real objects and spaces. Apple envisions its forthcoming range of Vision devices as a comprehensive computing platform, not just transient devices.

To understand this, look at how Apple guides developers in naming their apps for the App Store. Apple discourages the use of terms like VR, AR, XR, or MR, instead insisting on descriptors like “spatial computing experiences” or “Vision apps.”

This hints at Apple’s broader ambitions, signaling a move beyond mere immersive experiences to a platform with significant computing capabilities. Early indications show enterprise-focused developers expressing interest, with companies like the Omni Group planning Vision-enabled apps for project management.

The potential applications extend beyond entertainment or gaming, focusing on exploiting the full capabilities of these devices for practical purposes. Apple, through VisionOS, intends to create a computing paradigm that transforms these devices into tools for complex tasks, such as project management.

As Apple explores this new opportunity space, developers are expected to create experiences that harness the true potential of spatial computing. Apple’s previous experiences, like the App Store’s initial skepticism, teach us that as developers discover relevant tasks for VisionOS, its importance and adoption will grow over time.

Despite the current high cost of Vision Pro ($3,500), Apple plans to diversify its product range, making headsets more affordable as the number of use cases expands. Spatial computing, combining wearable, mobile, presence, and reality distortion technologies, could redefine how we perceive and interact with computers.

In business scenarios, envision using a spatial computer to troubleshoot production line issues remotely or collaborating on designs with partners across the globe. Industries like construction, utilities management, exploration, search and rescue, military, and medicine could benefit from the remote presence and on-device computing capabilities of spatial computing.

While Apple’s success in this endeavor is uncertain, decision-makers should not view these devices merely as consumer electronics. Instead, they represent a shift toward a new computing paradigm, and businesses should consider how Apple’s spatial platform might impact their operations. The transformative potential of spatial computing could spark a new wave of digital transformation across industries, reminiscent of the impact the iPhone had earlier. Only time will reveal the true extent of Apple’s success in this innovative venture.