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Exploring the potential of spatial computing with Apple's Vision Pro

Earlier this year, Apple unveiled its groundbreaking Vision Pro, a hands-free, head-mounted device that integrates eye tracking and boasts the processing power of a MacBook Pro. This marks Apple's first foray into spatial computing, a technology that promises to revolutionize the way we interact with digital content and the world around us.

While the concept of augmented and virtual reality has been around for some time, with companies like Microsoft, Meta, and Amazon making strides in this space, Apple's entry has reignited interest and sparked discussions about the potential applications of spatial computing beyond personal entertainment and gaming.

Understanding Spatial Computing

Spatial computing is an umbrella term that encompasses technologies integrating the physical world with virtual experiences, enabling intuitive interactions between humans and machines. It combines concepts from augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) to create immersive experiences.

  • Augmented Reality (AR): AR overlays digital content and information onto the physical world when viewed through a device. For example, a user can view product specifications and repair instructions alongside the actual equipment they are maintaining.

  • Virtual Reality (VR): VR immerses users in virtual environments, complete with sound and 360-degree views, simulating the experience of being at a location in person. This technology is particularly useful for creating training simulators, such as those for operating heavy industrial equipment.

  • Mixed Reality (MR): MR combines elements of AR and VR, allowing digital objects to interact with the physical world in real-time, creating a seamless blend of virtual and real environments. It enables users to manipulate and interact with digital content as if it were physically present, opening up new possibilities for collaboration, design, and problem-solving.

While Apple's announcement has brought spatial computing into the spotlight, the term has been around for over two decades, with companies like Microsoft (Hololens), Meta (Oculus, Quest), and Amazon making notable contributions to this field. These companies have been exploring the possibilities of spatial computing, developing hardware and software solutions that push the boundaries of what's possible with AR, VR, and MR.

The Apple Vision Pro: A Game-Changer in Spatial Computing

The Vision Pro is a cutting-edge spatial computing device that offers a range of interactive capabilities, setting it apart from other AR/VR headsets.

Interaction Methods

The Vision Pro supports various interaction methods, making it more intuitive and immersive:

  • Hand Tracking: Cameras and sensors detect intricate hand poses, gestures, and air tapping, allowing users to naturally grab, pinch, and manipulate virtual objects. This intuitive interaction method eliminates the need for physical controllers, creating a more immersive and seamless user experience.

  • Body Tracking: Wearable devices and computer vision track the user's movements, gaze, and location within physical spaces, enabling lifelike motion and navigation in virtual environments. This technology allows users to move and interact with digital content as if they were physically present, enhancing the sense of presence and immersion.

  • Voice Control: Speech recognition understands commands and intent, providing a hands-free interface for spatial computing. Users can control virtual objects, navigate menus, and perform various tasks using natural language commands, reducing the reliance on physical input devices.

  • Eye Tracking: By monitoring where the user is looking, the Vision Pro can anticipate their intent and optimize the computational load. Eye tracking enables more natural and intuitive interactions, such as allowing users to select objects or navigate menus simply by looking at them.

Differentiating Features

The Vision Pro boasts several features that set it apart from other AR/VR headsets:

  • High-resolution displays that minimize the "screen door effect," providing a more immersive visual experience. The Vision Pro's advanced optics and display technology deliver stunning clarity and depth, enhancing the sense of presence in virtual environments.

  • Spatial audio capabilities that accurately simulate sound in 3D space, enhancing the sense of presence. With spatial audio, users can hear sounds that are realistically placed in the virtual environment, making the experience more believable.

  • A sleek and lightweight design optimized for extended use, ensuring comfort during prolonged sessions. The lightweight design reduces fatigue and strain, allowing users to comfortably wear the device for extended periods without discomfort.

  • Seamless integration with Apple's ecosystem, leveraging the company's expertise in user experience, software development, and hardware integration. This tight integration allows for a smooth and intuitive user experience, as well as the potential for innovative applications that harness the power of Apple's existing technologies and platforms.

Spatial Computing Applications Across Industries

Spatial computing has the potential to transform various industries, driving innovation, efficiency, and new ways of working.

Logistics and Supply Chain Optimization

A few ways spatial computing can be used in logistics:

  • Route planning for warehouse management, assisting staff with moving product quickly and easily

  • Virtualized control center for warehouse supervisors, allowing them to manage the entire supply chain

  • Guided step by step instructions for assembly line workers with improved compliance and safety measures in operations

Companies can use spatial computing technologies to improve the flow of goods and materials in their supply chains. By integrating location data, sensors, and real-time analytics, they can track shipments, optimize routes, and efficiently manage inventory. For managers, the Vision Pro can optimize warehouse operations and streamline inventory management. This kind of technology can provide a holistic view of the entire supply chain, allowing managers to identify bottlenecks, optimize routes, and simulate various scenarios to improve efficiency and resilience.

Workers too can benefit from this kind of technology, receiving real-time information about product locations, stock levels, and picking routes through AR overlays, increasing efficiency and reducing errors. The Vision Pro can guide workers through the warehouse, highlighting the most efficient routes and providing visual cues for item selection and placement. Workers can also get required product information and assembly instructions as they go about their work in a hands free environment.

Location-based Marketing and Retail

Retailers and marketing companies use spatial computing to create location-based advertising and personalized offers. By analyzing customer movements and behaviors in physical stores, they can target promotions to specific demographics.

Retailers can adopt spatial computing for applications like:

  • Augmented reality product previews

  • Virtual changing rooms

  • Product configuration - allowing customers to virtually modify products to see modifications of color or styles of their product line

Spatial computing can revolutionize the retail industry by enhancing customer experiences and streamlining store operations. Retailers can use AR and VR applications to provide personalized product recommendations, help customers visualize products in their homes, or even simulate entire shopping experiences. For high end products that come with a lot of configuration options, the Vision Pro allows a user to modify and configure products to their exact specifications - seeing the change in real time. This level of immersive interaction not only attracts and retains customers but also encourages more purchases, ultimately benefiting the retail sector.

For example, shoppers can visualize furniture in their own home through mobile AR before purchasing. Or virtually "try on" clothing by seeing it overlaid on live images of themselves. Spatial computing promises to blend the advantages of in-store experiences with online convenience.

In product configuration and space design, the Vision Pro can enable customers and designers to visualize and customize products or spaces in real-time, making the design process more interactive and engaging. This can lead to better customer satisfaction, reduced design iterations, and faster time-to-market.

Smart Buildings, Facility Management, and Space Design

Spatial computing is used to create smart buildings that automatically optimize resources such as lighting, heating, and air conditioning. Integrating sensors and data analytics allows companies to improve energy efficiency, reduce operational costs, and enhance the work environment for employees.

How the Vision Pro could be used:

  • Virtual tours of home remodels, allowing customers to experience a designer’s plans rather than simply looking at 2d renderings

  • AR assistance during facility maintenance visits, allowing for relevant manuals and other information to be displayed while making repairs

  • Create new building and space designs that can be seen and experienced virtually, without the cost of construction

The integration of spatial computing in interior design offers new possibilities for visualizing and planning spaces. Technologies like augmented reality enable users to project virtual representations of furniture and decor into their actual environments, facilitating a more informed and creative design process. This approach allows for a realistic preview of design choices in real contexts, enhancing the ability to assess aesthetics, function, and spatial compatibility without the need for physical prototypes. A notable example of this in practice is IKEA's application, IKEA Place, which allows users to visualize how IKEA's furniture would fit and look in their own spaces, illustrating the practical application of spatial computing in enhancing interior design.

Cities and municipalities use spatial computing to plan and optimize urban spaces. Analyzing traffic flows, demographic data, and urban infrastructures, they can make informed decisions to improve quality of life, address traffic issues, and promote sustainable development. And the architects and designers get to experience what a newly imagined space would look like, without the upfront construction costs.


In the manufacturing industry, spatial computing is used to implement augmented reality (AR) in production processes. Employees can use AR glasses to receive digital instructions and visual aids in real-time, leading to improved efficiency, error reduction, and training opportunities.

Spatial computing could be useful in manufacturing:

  • Virtual training of working with equipment on manufacturing lines that might otherwise be hazardous for untrained workers to use for learning

  • Guided assistance while doing maintenance or other processes such as change over on a manufacturing line from one product to another

  • Virtualized control room for supervisors, allowing them to leverage the infinite canvas to see deeper into how the lines are runnings

In the manufacturing domain, spatial computing allows factories to optimize processes and better understand their machines' performance. By seamlessly integrating digital and physical spaces, operators can monitor equipment in real-time and detect potential issues before they become critical. This technology enables more efficient management of factory resources and ultimately improves manufacturing outcomes.

Manufacturing was one of the first industries to embrace spatial computing. Several already use spatial devices to remotely assist workers, display virtual work instructions, and capture soft knowledge before operators retire. From assembling parts on the line to quality assurance and assisting operators, spatial computing has measured success.

Spatial computing is a natural fit for fields like engineering and architecture that rely on 3D modeling and visualization. By integrating digital models directly into real-world physical contexts, spatial computing enables more rapid iteration, collaborative design and interactive simulation. Engineers can visualize and manipulate virtual prototypes and digital twins overlaid right on the factory floor or building site using AR headsets.

The ability to overlay data onto real environments provides valuable insights. For instance, workers can reference holographic assembly instructions hands-free on the factory floor through AR glasses. Spatial computing also enables logistics operators to optimize warehouse layouts and picking routes through digital twin simulations.

In manufacturing, the Vision Pro can be used for product design, assembly line training, and remote collaboration. Engineers and designers can visualize and interact with 3D models in real-time, streamlining the product development process. By using the Vision Pro, designers can manipulate and explore product designs in a more intuitive and immersive way, identifying potential issues and making modifications on the fly.

Assembly line workers can receive step-by-step instructions and guidance through AR overlays, improving efficiency and reducing errors. With the Vision Pro, workers can access real-time information and visual aids, helping them navigate complex assembly processes and ensure quality control. Remote collaboration tools powered by the Vision Pro can connect distributed teams, allowing them to work together on complex projects in a shared virtual space. This can facilitate better communication, reduce travel costs, and improve overall project efficiency.

Research and Development

Data visualization is a clear use case for spatial computing. With spatial computing, researchers and scientists in R&D can now interact with their data to see patterns in ways previously unseen in 2D renderings.

Ways spatial computing can be used:

  • Immersive visualization of data, allowing researchers to more effectively see patterns in their data

  • Showcase for virtual designs for equipment or parts, allowing people to show their designs in ways that 2d renderings wouldn’t

  • Infinite canvas to see multiple data sets simultaneously and how their interact over time

In research and development, the Vision Pro can provide a platform for scientists and researchers to visualize and interact with complex data, simulations, and models in a more intuitive and immersive way. This can facilitate new insights, accelerate discovery, and enable more effective collaboration among multidisciplinary teams.


In surgery, spatial computing enables doctors and medical staff to plan complex operations in advance by presenting patient data like MRIs as 3D data in real space. Integrating imaging technologies like MRI and CT scans allows surgeons to visualize anatomical structures in detail and identify potential challenges or risks before the actual procedure. This leads to more precise planning and execution of surgeries, thereby improving success rates and reducing complications.

In healthcare, spatial computing shows promise for:

  • Telemedicine

  • Medical training

  • Visualizing patient data

Doctors can reference holographic medical imagery visible only to them through AR headsets while doing diagnosis or procedures. Spatial computing also enables remote medical experts to see and interact with patients through virtual collaboration. For training, AR overlays provide doctors and nurses with layered anatomical guidance, and VR simulations offer risk-free practice scenarios.

The healthcare industry can benefit from the Vision Pro's ability to provide immersive training experiences and assist in medical procedures. Surgeons can practice complex procedures in virtual environments, honing their skills and reducing the risk of errors. The Vision Pro can create realistic simulations of surgical procedures, allowing surgeons to rehearse and refine their techniques without the need for physical cadavers or expensive training equipment.

Medical students can explore anatomy and physiology in interactive 3D models, enhancing their understanding of the human body. With the Vision Pro, students can interact with detailed, life-like anatomical models, gaining a deeper understanding of the relationships between different systems and structures. AR-guided surgery can provide real-time information and guidance to surgeons during operations, improving precision and patient outcomes. The Vision Pro can display vital patient data, imaging, and navigation aids directly in the surgeon's field of view, reducing the need to look away from the patient and enhancing surgical accuracy.

Education & Training

The education sector is also experiencing significant changes due to the introduction of spatial computing. By integrating AR and VR technologies into classrooms, educators can create immersive learning experiences that promote better understanding and retention of complex topics. Students can participate in virtual field trips, explore historical sites, or even dissect virtual animals, all in the comfort of their classrooms. Overall, spatial computing has the potential to reshape the educational landscape and provide students with more engaging, interactive learning experiences.

Spatial computing can be used to:

  • Virtualize classrooms allowing students to immerse themselves in class and minimize distractions while at home

  • Support immersive hands-on training using 3d models of real-world equipment or tools

  • Provide interactive virtual environments that allow students to collaborate with one another while attending remotely

In education, the Vision Pro can create engaging and interactive learning experiences, allowing students to explore concepts and phenomena in a more hands-on and immersive manner. From virtual field trips to interactive simulations, the Vision Pro can transform the way we teach and learn, making education more accessible, effective, and enjoyable.

The Vision Pro: Unlocking New Possibilities

The Vision Pro does things that traditional desktop or mobile software can't, providing a more immersive and intuitive way to interact with digital content. Its portability allows users to access spatial computing capabilities in various settings, even where additional equipment may be impractical.

The Vision Pro can be used together with conventional desktop and mobile software to improve them and allow us to do things we previously could not. For instance, designers can use the Vision Pro to create and manipulate 3D models in real-time, while still leveraging the power of desktop CAD software for detailed editing and rendering. The ability to visualize and interact with designs in a natural and intuitive way can accelerate the iterative process and improve communication between team members.

Moreover, the Vision Pro can enhance remote collaboration by providing immersive virtual meeting spaces. Teams can come together in shared virtual environments, regardless of their physical location, to brainstorm ideas, review designs, and make decisions. The ability to interact with digital content and each other in a natural and intuitive way can foster better understanding, creativity, and teamwork.

The Future of Spatial Computing

As spatial computing technology continues to evolve, the Vision Pro represents a significant step forward in the way we interact with digital content and the world around us. Its potential to transform industries, enhance software capabilities, and unlock new possibilities is truly exciting.

To fully realize the potential of spatial computing, it will be crucial for businesses to approach it not as a replacement for existing tools and workflows, but as a powerful complement that can drive innovation, efficiency, and competitive advantage. By integrating the Vision Pro with conventional desktop and mobile software, businesses can unlock new capabilities and achieve previously unattainable goals.

As spatial computing becomes more prevalent and accessible, it will also be important to consider the ethical and social implications of this technology. Issues such as privacy, data security, and digital inequality will need to be addressed to ensure that the benefits of spatial computing are distributed fairly and responsibly.

Despite these challenges, the future of spatial computing is incredibly promising. As the technology continues to mature and more businesses adopt it, we can expect to see a wave of innovation and transformation across industries. The Vision Pro is just the beginning of this exciting journey, and we can't wait to see where it takes us.

Published by Ed LaFoy in Spatial Computing

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