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Spatial Computing

February 4, 2024

Apple’s VR headset, the Vision Pro, launched Friday. It is supposed to be, in the words of Tim Cook, “tomorrow’s technology today.” The launch promises to usher in a new era in spatial computing in that as with other Apple products, it will at the very least generate buzz and pique broad interest. 

Spatial Computing is an umbrella term for digital enhancement of the space we perceive. It includes Augmented Reality (AR) where the physical world is augmented by digital elements (like PokemonGo); Mixed Reality (MR) where digital elements and real world elements can interact (such as Snapchat filters); and Virtual Reality (VR) where one is fully immersed in a digital world (such as visiting the Louvre using a Meta Quest).


While the consumer use case for Vision Pro, and other consumer-focused headsets like Meta Quest will likely be media consumption, there are also business cases for spatial computing, largely targeted by Microsoft’s HoloLens, including architectural renderings and virtual collaboration (e.g. HoloLens's integration with MS Teams). It is no wonder that it is expected that spatial technology is expected to grow rapidly over the next several years (see chart below). 


Use cases for spatial technology run the gamut for leisure and work. On the leisure side, there’s gaming, social interaction and exploration, eventually via the metaverse (as imagined in Ready Player One). Watching movies with a VR headset would be akin to having your own personal home theater. For work, use cases include productivity (connect a monitor and use multiple screens), meetings to bring together remote personnel, and building 3D prototypes.

On the entertainment side, the greatest benefits will go to producers and studios that can deliver rich, immersive experiences. They would also go to hardware manufacturers that would now build devices for individuals instead of a household. This has already happened with phones; individual phones mean many people no longer have a landline.


On the business side, the platforms that provide productivity tools, enable virtual collaboration and allow for realistic visualizations. On the hardware side, at least in the short term, spatial computing hardware would need to be acquired in addition to the pre-existing desktops and laptops, there would only be some replacement of external monitors.

The spatial computing revolution benefits hardware makers, platforms, and content producers. Hardware manufacturers would potentially be producing devices for every individual, similar to how most people now have their own mobile phone. Platforms that provide the foundational tools for collaboration and productivity would have a new type of environment to facilitate activity. Content producers would have creative license to engage viewers as never before. 

At Somar, we’re excited about the next generation of companies that will bring spatial computing to the forefront.  Spatial computing costs will decline, quality will go up, and we will soon be experiencing new ways to work, play, and rest. I only hope that this encourages more social interaction and doesn’t only encourage even more isolation.  

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