Apple's recently-unveiled Vision Pro goggles are meant to usher in "the era of spatial computing." What does that really mean, to the layperson? What would using these add to our everyday lives?
Here are the cases Apple makes:
Spatial computing, in Apple's vision, means "seamlessly [blending] digital content with your physical space." You pop the goggles on, and now you see app icons floating in space, overlaid on your actual environment.
You navigate using your eyes, which the goggles track…
…and you interact with the apps via gesture: "Tap your fingers together to make a selection and gently flick to scroll." None of us will know how great, or terrible, this is until we try it. (You can also dictate, telling it to go to a particular website, for instance.)
For apps that require text input, you can pair a Bluetooth keyboard. Now the use case starts to look more compelling, at least to me, as I could benefit from having multiple monitors but do not have the physical desktop space.
Another thing that would be useful, at least for those of us with failing eyesight, is that it allows you to see things much larger than a physical monitor can.
You can also choose to have your visible environment replaced by a sort of immersive desktop image.
In a nod to safety/awareness, Apple says that should any human enter your space, they become immediately visible through whatever virtual vision you're looking at.
The Vision Pro can connect with your computer, virtually creating a much larger version of the screen that floats in space. I could see this being useful. (Whether the trade-off of having this thing strapped to your face for long stretches would be worth it, remains to be seen.)
This gets a little weird. In Apple's demo, we see a Vision Pro user FaceTiming with people who are not wearing the goggles. She sees them in their natural forms.
But what do they see? As it turns out, you're meant to scan your face while setting up the goggles. It then creates this virtual avatar of you, and I don't think the tech is ready for primetime. Uncanny valley in full effect.
The Vision Pro of course allows you to view photos, watch movies/TV and play videogames. Apple also says they'll offer a series of Immersive Videos recorded in 3D.
The chief drawback, as I see it, is that these confine what were once group activities to just one user. Family or friends cannot gather around to view/experience the same event, unless everyone has a pair of Vision Pros. But perhaps this is the way society is going, anyway.
I will say, this would probably be amazing on an airplane.
The demo video creeps me out a bit: We see what I assume is the father of these two girls, watching/recording them play with the goggles strapped to his face. It seems disconnected and jarring to me. (Also note the strap going over the top of his head; perhaps this is an early prototype.)
I suppose this has been happening for a while—people holding out their phones to record a moment, rather than experiencing the moment. (Been to a concert or live music event recently?) So I guess that ship has already sailed.
Here's Apple's full pitch:
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The Vision Pro goggles are expected to debut next year, for $3,500. The high price will perhaps help delay the future where we all wear these all the time, rather than staring into our phones.
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