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February 1, 2024
What’s Amazing (and Potentially Terrible) About Apple’s Vision Pro

Apple’s Vision Pro is a technological marvel and marks a significant moment for our industry, bringing mixed and augmented reality into many more people’s hands and enabling developers to build high-fidelity apps that turn our world into an interactive computing surface.

It’s like living in the future - experiencing today what we’ll achieve with less cumbersome devices in the near future.

That’s what makes it important and amazing.

What makes it potentially terrible is that it could lead us down a path where our industry focuses on indoor, VR-centric experiences that might lead us away from the true essence of AR.

Tools shape creation, and the danger lies in a detour where our tools encourage developers to build the most amazing desktop computing or movie watching experiences, but lead us away from the ultimate goal of creating lighter, simpler, but more outdoor-friendly AR glasses.

If we do this, we risk overlooking the true potential of AR - a technology designed to be a companion in the outdoor world, fostering face-to-face interactions, not just an indoor fascination.

Of course, true AR glasses will be less visually exciting. They won’t take up your entire field of vision with a 4K screen on each eye. But they mean we can look up and look out, interact with others, engage with the world around us, rather than having a “spatial computing session.”

I’m confident, though, that we’ll get there. We are in what I call the messy middle between technologies that are converging, with VR-type devices on one end and AR glasses on the other.

AI will help us navigate out of this messy middle. It’s already making products like the Ray-Ban Meta glasses smarter and more useful. With these devices, not only is your AI assistant at your beck and call, it can see the world through your eyes, understand what is there and offer you help if you need it.

Another critical consideration is how apps get delivered in this new world - will it be a closed system, or will it resemble the open web? This choice could significantly impact the AR’s trajectory.

We’re championing Web AR as a viable path forward. It offers a framework for lightweight, dynamically loaded applications, where people find and discover new apps as they move through the world, much more like surfing the web than browsing an app store. This will also require a third generation map that is the “glue” that binds the world of atoms to the world of bits making augmented reality possible.

This is the future, and I believe the devices that will have the most impact on society will be the ones we carry with us all the time. Let’s stay focused on the bigger prize and not get sidetracked by an indoor-centric vision of spatial computing.


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