Spatial Computing

With the launch of Apple Vision Pro, we are adding the term spatial computing to our technical vocabulary.

But what is spatial computing, and how does it differ from virtual, augmented, and mixed reality?

What is spatial computing?

Spatial computing is a term describing technology which blends digital and the real worlds together, allowing users to interact with technology in more immersive ways. As a result, users interact with digital content while being aware of physical surroundings.

Spatial computing heavily relies on augmented reality technologies to immerse the users and present data. Augmented reality has been around for years and is when you view a digital object in a digital layer on top of the real world.

When Apple insists on using the term spatial computing for what is going on in the Apple Vision Pro, it highlights that the headset allows you to take all the functions you know from your computer and smart phone and interact with them in digital layers in your physical surroundings, rather than just placing and interacting with one object at a time.

As a contrast to more traditional VR and AR experiences, one of the use cases of the Vision Pro is that it easily allows you to place several large screens in your physical surroundings. It will make the workday easier for those of us who have many applications open on our PC or Mac at the same time and constantly switch between overlapping windows to interact with them.  

With spatial computing, you have almost unlimited screen space as you can place the applications all around you.

How is spatial computing different from VR?

Spatial computing and VR are related concepts, however there are some differences, especially in interaction. 

Spatial computing makes it possible for users to interact with digital content while being aware of the real world.

You can still see the real world, but the digital content blends with the real world around you. As a result, you can interact with both at the same time, without having to e.g. remove the headset to perform any other activity in the real world. 

However, in Apple Vision Pro you can also fully immerse yourself in a VR environment, as you can turn the see-through function up and down as you please.  

Virtual reality – makes the user fully immersed in a virtual environment, isolating them from the real world. To showcase that, here is an image from Virsabi’s “Pipe Packers” captured from Meta Quest 3: 

You are completely cut out from the real world and can only interact with digital content around you. To perform any real-world activities, you must remove the headset. 

Possible applications of spatial computing

As Apple Vision Pro or future series of the headset becomes mainstream, new use cases and applications will arise.  

The graphics in Apple Vision Pro is extremely good and detailed, and we expect to see some really good collaboration experiences for people working with all kinds of 3D drawing and models.  

For now, most of the currently known applications for spatial computing are the same as of other XR technologies.  

The closest to spatial computing, encompassing the same technologies, is Mixed Reality. As a result, the same applications that are attributed to mixed reality can be also attributed to spatial computing, e.g.: 

Fun fact: Spatial Computing definition was first used in 1985 – but meant something different than what we define it now – today’s definition comes from Simon Greenwold’s publication “Spatial Computing” released in 2003

Training & Onboarding

MR is being used for improvement of both training and onboarding, by being more engaging, streamlined, and comprehensible. One such example you can find here.

Education

Like training and onboarding, MR enhances education by making it more engaging, streamlined and comprehensible. You can read more about it here.

Healthcare

Due to improved access to information whenever it is required, doctors can treat patients more safely and efficiently, e.g. during surgeries, minimizing risks.

Remote Assistance

Through better description and visualization of the problem at hand, remote assistance can be more precise. One such example you can find here.

Architecture, design and prototyping

Better perspective, more detailed showcasing, and better understanding of the whole idea, all thanks to MR. You can read more about it here.

Manufacturing

Thanks to better visualization of what must be done, improved maintenance and troubleshooting and better access to information all improve manufacturing processes. More about it here.

Retail

By being more engaging than usual forms of entertainment, MR can be used as a better form of advertisement. One of such cases you can find here.

Entertainment & Gaming

It is the first thing that comes to mind, and there’s a reason for it – it is highly engaging and immersive. Here’s the link to beforementioned game developed by Virsabi, Pipe Packer.

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Virsabi is a company that explores the intersection of creativity and technologies and is one of the first Virtual – and Augmented Reality dedicated companies offering both business advisory work and technical development for the utilization of Virtual Production, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality and other new visualization technologies.