The Apple Vision Pro - What is it? What can I do with it? How will it change my work and/or life?
The problem won't be that people don't want it - the problem will be that people won't want to take it off
In 1991, at the Melia international multimedia conference in Cannes, France, I demonstrated the potential of six-channel virtual/mixed reality with a look-and-blink interface.
Fast forward to June 2023 - and the revolutionary Apple Vision Pro. My 40-year dream has come true, and I couldn’t be more excited about what we are about to see. But how is it different from my phone or desktop computer?
By analogy, going from a smartphone to the Apple Vision Pro is like going from a bicycle to an automobile. The bike is cheap and will get you where you want to go, but the car is so much more competent - an enclosed environment, heated and cooled, good stereo, friends can go with us, faster and further, etc.
The Apple Vision Pro is a dramatic paradigm shift for computing. Its spatial interface will drastically change how we relate not only to computers but to each other and even to ourselves. Add the tsunami of interactive AI contextual intelligence, and you have a true information revolution in progress.
Once you experience the difference, there is no going back.
The details and implications are a vast unexplored territory, but let me touch on just one vector of its impact.
First, for those who might be new to the concept of what Apple is calling a “spatial interface,” here’s a quick rundown:
- Virtual reality(VR) is a completely computer generated artificial “immersive” 3D world.
- Augmented Reality(AR) is conceptually like glasses that overlay computer-generated images on your view of the real world. Today’s smartphones can do AR, but their tiny screens make it like viewing the world through a soda straw.
- Mixed reality(MR) is a combination of the two. The Apple Vision Pro seamlessly mixes VR and AR in what Apple is calling a spatial interface.
All human communication is controlled by three fundamental factors:
Latency - How long it takes for your info to arrive
Bandwidth - How much is there when it does arrive
Control - How do I get what I want
More bandwidth and control are good, as is lower latency.
Existing computer technology has incrementally optimized these variables. However, they are throttled by the legacy models of writing, linear videos, still images, and speech.
Today’s computers and smartphones are hybrids of a television, a book, a radio, a telephone and a typewriter. So how is the Apple Vision Pro different?
First, our visual connection is expanded from a little flat screen to our entire visual field in three dimensions. Why does that matter? Because vision consumes a full one-third of our mental processing power. Traditional computer screens only use a tiny fraction of the power that is available.
Consider what that means for latency and control. On our traditional computer screens, switching among applications is a multi-second operation. If you have to switch a lot, it becomes a major source of inefficiency in your workflow and disrupts your mindflow.
With Apple Vision Pro, having multiple screens open in your spatial environment reduces latency dramatically. Not to mention that you can instantly see what’s happening on all your screens without having to sift through layers of open windows.
One of my mantras over the years has been, “There are only two quantities of screen real estate - none and not enough.”
The Apple Vision Pro give us spatial cognition in a high bandwidth, high control, low latency and function-complete technology package.
Our eyes thrive on scanning over large environments and picking up subtle visual cues. The Apple Vision Pro is the first device that allows us to live in our real world, but with major enhancements to our biological eyes. We will discover improvements like zoom vision, augmented image recognition, selective brightness controls, mixed reality and lots more.
The visual and interaction improvements made possible by the Apple Vision Pro, coupled with advanced AI technology, will change our understanding of what it means to be sentient, aware and how we connect with each other.
Once people have experienced the freedom to do serious work anywhere, there is no going back to the old office.
Finally, let me touch on some of the more exotic changes that Apple Vison Pro may bring to our life.
We live in a 3 dimensional “real world.” However, Apple Vision Pro is giving us a new immersive mind-machine communication channel, opening the door to new worlds with exotic spatial geometries, time alteration, flipping channels from one reality to multiple others, and non-physical out-of-body experiences.
Gamers have known this for years, but now it can become part of our everyday reality.
The same enhanced mind-machine capability will dramatically improve our ability to learn, think, and even do faster and better than ever before, a topic for much more discussion.
In a year or two, the question won’t be “Do I want one?” but “How did I live without it.”
State of art VR, circa 1989. I am testing out a glove that allows me to see my hand in virtual space and manipulate objects. The magic wasn’t that it worked great, the magic was that it worked at all.
In future articles, I will discuss where we are going and what it can mean for our bright future. Please join the conversation.
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