Apple Vision Pro: Unlocking the Potential of Spatial Computing


I rarely get the chance to work with technologies that fundamentally disrupt the way we work. Right now, I am using two. The first (and most obvious) is a LLM. Large Language Models are more than an AI bot that can understand human language and respond accordingly. They have the potential to change how we use technology. Rather than a GUI with buttons, menus, and a help button that does anything but help, what if you just talked to your computer and told it what you wanted it to help you do? A keyboard is faster than a keyboard and mouse, and voice is faster than either. But that is a different article.

Right now, I want to focus on Spatial Computing. In the same way ChatGPT enables an entirely new way to interface with your computer, Spatial Computing allows you to integrate technology into your environment, removing the barrier between screens and real life. While that sounds terrible at first, think about how much time you spend focused on a screen. Doubly so for most work, especially remote. Many of us spend eight hours (or more) a day staring at a screen to the exclusion of our environment. You are likely sitting in a chair or standing at a desk at this very second while outside the world moves on without you. Or, by far, one of the most egregious offenses, you might be sitting around a table to break bread with people who are dividing time between others and their devices.

Think also about information security. How often have you accidentally exposed a screen with work data to a complete stranger? Most of us don’t even know. Someone could be standing behind you, reading this very blog right now. Spatial Computing solves this problem in an instant. The screens only exist for you, and they can be as large as you want with 8k resolution. Imagine that: full access to Data, whenever you want, without any intrusion from unwanted eyes.

Fine, but do I need to look like I’m in a sci-fi movie to do it? Well, yes, and no.

Sure, today’s headsets make you look like a cyberpunk Bono. I’ve experienced the sideways glances while wearing the Apple Vision Pro on a recent flight, and I am sure at least one passenger has 50 pictures of me wearing them. That is the price for early adoption. Well, that and the incredibly high retail cost. But things can’t stay that way. Technology will evolve. Prices will come down, and they will do so thanks to those early adopters blazing a trail for the rest to follow. I can’t tell you how excited I am to see where this technology goes from here.

Okay, enough about my excitement for the future; let’s get into the nitty gritty of Spatial Computing now.

What is it?

Spatial Computing integrates technology into everyday life by placing its virtual aspects on top of your vision of the real world, unlike, say, a virtual reality (VR) headset that obscures the real world from view. Google Glass was very good at the “reality” part of the equation but poor at the technology piece (I still have my Google Glass in a box somewhere). The Microsoft HoloLens is an excellent augmented reality (AR) headset but is very expensive and purpose-driven. If you have a HoloLens, then you are either a developer or have a dedicated app paired with it to meet a specific use case. Spatial Computing requires general-use computing as its key use case to be of ubiquitous value.

Practical Applications

I talked about the privacy benefits of Spatial Computing, but we need to go further. As a general-use platform, you have all the standard computing potential as use cases, but there are far more. Think about how your entertainment will change when it immerses you in the content. Okay, that sounds like fun, but it’s not applicable to most businesses. What about taking a virtual tour of a house (Zillow being the favorite time waster of daydreamers and dads everywhere)? Top medical schools may one day train students by placing a virtual body on the table in front of them. Overlays can walk you step-by-step through parts replacement using object recognition. Suddenly, you can look at manufacturing lines, identify problems, and receive specific advice to remediate them. Simple quality-of-life improvements like a GPS that paints the directions on the road ahead of you. Or an e-commerce application that uses object recognition to enable customers to focus on a product and immediately see the purchase page in their view. Even my tattoo artist is excited about overlaying original artwork onto the client’s skin to improve the accuracy of the transfer. The possibilities start to get endless fast.

Implementation Strategies

I do not recommend anyone implement the technology today as part of a new project unless you have a clear ROI and intense urgency because it is still early on the hype curve. There are 20 million VR headsets in the hands of people right now; while that sounds like a lot, you will not find much applicable to audiences this second unless you are in entertainment (gaming or video). Nor are you likely to move the purchasers whose headset(s) are collecting dust from lack of a killer use case.

Instead, please take advantage of the time you have, a rare gift in today’s market. You should start thinking about how you can best be in a position to leverage the technology once it hits the inflection of adoption. How can you improve the lives of your employees? How about your customers? I would aim not to be too early or too late. The delta between the two is likely to be several years.

Still, while I’m in a position to make recommendations, I would also urge you to support those in your organization who wish to be pioneers. That does not mean a corporate purchase of the equipment (although that is not a terrible idea). Instead, adopt a BYOD policy for the devices. These people will be your best source of information about the state of the market, what innovations are coming your way, and how the user base has expanded. By supporting the hardware, you can easily see who is using the devices and know who to involve in the feedback loop as your strategy develops.

Managing the Technology: Risks & Benefits

Navigating Potential Risks
The technology is nowhere near standardized. We are still in the pioneering phase, and the risk of investing time and money into the platform only to find it discontinued due to a market failure is high. At the same time, once that happens, you open yourself to potential disruption by not having a strategy to address the customer’s needs (or wants).

While I believe LLMs will affect all of us, I do not see the same in Spatial Computing. I imagine that somewhere between 20 and 40 percent of organizations have a use case for Spatial Computing. While I think the technology will be ubiquitous in the future, that does not mean every application must transform to meet it. The change may be as simple as reducing the interface and enabling transparency.

Leveraging the Benefits
In the near term, there is a lot of potential to capture an audience. There is no “killer app” for the headsets today, so there is a first-mover advantage for companies with such a use case. The devices are also premium hardware. As such, the owners tend to be those with higher-than-average levels of disposable income, meaning they are also more likely to pay a premium for those first-mover applications. This should help offset the development ROI since the market value of the application will be significantly higher for these customers than the general market.

Leadership Takeaways

Assessing Maturity and Readiness
The market is very immature. Act accordingly. Enable your organization to learn as much as they can about the space. If you do not have an obvious use case, then this can be passive for now. It is beneficial to your organization to support the devices in a BYOD plan so you can leverage those early adopters for feedback when the timing is right to activate your strategy.

Strategic Implementation
I fully expect this technology to evolve quickly over the next 24-36 months, and I would keep an eye on the big tech companies to see what they announce. Apple currently has the best hardware and operating system. We should all watch WWDC this year to see what Apple announces and how much stage time the concept receives, as this will be a good indicator of the investment Apple is placing in the space, and the rest of the market will respond accordingly.

Future Outlook
Creatives and futurists have seen this VR and Spatial Computing future coming for a long time. Ready Player One, the novel and film, showed us that future and the ‘metaverse’ it may bring (a term first coined by Neal Stephenson in the 1992 book Snow Crash). This VR tomorrow will erase the division between the virtual and physical as we move between the two. I am excited about the potential of the Apple Vision Pro combined with the Disney Holo Tile floor. Add in some haptic gloves, and we are painfully close to the holodeck of my childhood dreams.


To summarize, devote thought, not action, to this technology. While some first-mover potential exists, most organizations do not need to expend resources here quite yet. Watch the market, specifically Apple, to see if the investments continue growing. Adopt a BYOD policy for Spatial Computing so you can nurture the fast movers in your organization. Finally, subscribe to this blog and GigaOm to stay up to date.