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Spatial Computing

Mac changed everything when it was introduced 40 years ago, and through the years it has been able to keep the momentum going. Today’s Mac lineup with their proprietary chips (no longer using Intel) is the best in the history of the personal computer, according to many writers and analysts. Tim Cook, Chairman and CEO of Apple said, “It’s built on decades of revolutionary innovation. Happy birthday Mac!”

I was faithful to IBM’s ThinkPad brand, which I helped create when I was VP of Marketing for Personal Systems, until I retired from IBM at the end of 2001 after 35 years. I stayed on as a consultant for a few years and as long as I had a free ThinkPad, I remained faithful. When the consultancy ended, I immediately switched to Apple. In my opinion Apple is easier to use than Windows. Without any doubt, Apple has the best technical support. Whoever is in second place is not even close to Apple when it comes to support.

Over the years Apple has developed software platforms (operating systems) which make their products easy to use and make it easy for developers to create new apps. The current lineup is MacOS for desktops and laptops, iOS for iPhones, iPadOS for iPads, tvOS for Apple TV, watchOS for the Apple watch, and audioOS for its HomePod smart speakers.

Apple has 154,000 employees. According to analyst reports and news articles, the estimated number of Apple’s internal software developers is in the range of 10,000 to 20,000. I don’t know the breakdown of the internal developers, but I am sure a large share of them work on the operating systems. 

The next step in Apple’s evolution is going to be with visionOS to support its new Vision Pro headset. Apple paints a compelling picture of Vision Pro as a transformative device that goes beyond virtual reality or augmented reality, ushering in a new era of seamless interaction with information and the environment around us. They portray it as a device that blends the digital and physical world seamlessly, opening new possibilities for work, play, and learning.

Some people describe the headset as a device which can be used with virtual reality, augmented reality, or mixed reality. These terms can get confusing, as they overlap and interconnect in fascinating ways. I will take a crack at explaining the differences to create a clearer picture.

Virtual Reality (VR) means to entirely replace your physical surroundings with a computer-generated world. With VR, you wear a headset and controllers, immersing yourself in a completely virtual environment where you can interact with objects, explore landscapes, and even experience fictional stories. Imagine playing a game where you’re a dragon soaring through the clouds or attending a concert in a virtual stadium.

I was introduced to VR at the Argonne National Laboratory outside of Chicago in the late 1990s. I was given a pair of VR goggles and VR gloves. I walked into a room and saw a dog sitting in the corner. I went over and petted the dog on the head. I could feel his head with the VR gloves. The dlog wagged its tail. Then I was told to remove my VR goggles. There was nothing in the corner where I had seen the dog! That is VR. More about this in my blog. As an aside, during COVID days, everyone started using the term virtual for meetings and even a wedding I attended online. These were not virtual. They were very real happenings but were accessed remotely.

Augmented Reality (AR) is the overlaying of digital elements onto your real-world view. It doesn’t replace your surroundings; it enhances them. Imagine seeing virtual furniture in your living room before you buy it or getting turn-by-turn directions through AR arrows superimposed on your real-world street view. Amazon was first I know of to use AR for shopping. You can pick a lamp and see how it fits and looks in your actual living room. The Pokémon Go game is a fun example of AR.

Mixed Reality (MR) blends the lines between VR and AR, creating a hybrid experience where virtual objects seamlessly interact with the physical world. Imagine a surgeon using MR to see virtual anatomical overlays onto a real patient during surgery, or a mechanic interacting with virtual instructions projected onto a car engine. HoloLens by Microsoft is a leading example of MR technology.

Apple intends to turn all this upside down by investing a new term, Spatial Computing.  This is the overarching umbrella term encompassing all technologies which allow us to interact with digital information in the real world. VR, AR, and MR are all subsets of spatial computing, along with other technologies like gesture recognition and location-based services.

All these technologies are constantly evolving, and the lines between them can blur in innovative ways. The future of spatial computing holds exciting possibilities for how we interact with information, work, play, and connect with the world around us. Apple is defining a new space just like it did with the iPhone and Apple Watch.

The cost is advertised as $3,500. It starts at $3,500. If you need Zeiss reading lenses in your Vision Pro, that is an extra $99. $199 for prescription lenses. If you want extra storage for lots of movies, that is hundreds more. You can easily pay more than $5,000 for something new. I ordered mine on day one, January 19, and I will have in on February 2. I’ll share more about this when I have real experience with it.

Note: I use Bard AI and other AI chatbots as my research assistants. AI can boost productivity for anyone who creates content. Sometimes I get incorrect data from AI, and when something looks suspicious, I dig deeper. Sometimes the data varies by sources where AI finds it. I take responsibility for my posts and if anyone spots an error, I will appreciate knowing it, and will correct it.