Welcome to 2024 and welcome to the age of Spatial Computing! At least that is what Apple wants us to believe. And they push hard and swift to proof they want to make it happen. So much, that they just announced to release the Apple Vision Pro as early as February 2nd 2024! That is indeed „Early next year“.
But that is not enough: Within their developer website they ask developers not to use the words AR, VR or MR, but only to speak about Spatial Computing.
Time to investigate what Spatial Computing actually is. But there is a problem: The Wikipedia article is rather short. And not very helpful. Usually that’s what journalists or the so-called experts on LinkedIn would do: Read the Wikipedia article and hope they understand enough, what a word actually means. It was enough for Metaverse (it was not). But for Spatial Computing we really could need some historical help.
Thats why I am happy to have Avi Bar-Zeev as a guest in this episode. He claims to have used the word as early as 1992 at Worldesign Inc, which would be 10 years earlier than what the Wikipedia articles source Simon Greenwolds work „Spatial Computing“ from 2003 claims.
In „Spatial Computing“ Greenwolds uses this example to explain Spatial Computing: “The simplest example may be an auto-flushing toilet that senses the user’s movement away to trigger a flush. This is trivial spatial computing, but it qualifies. The space of the system’s engagement is a real human space.”
Avi doesn’t agree here. Although the toilet recognizes you leave the room, the computational aspect of the mechanism is not existent.
As the former team-lead prototyping the AppleVision Pro he explains what he understands Spatial Computing is:
„The general accepted definition of Spatial Computing is that humans are naturally spatial, we exist in a spatial environment, we interact in the world around us. There is the world within arm’s reach, and then there is the world we can see. But all of those things is what we call ego-centric, they are very much about us who are placed in the world. Spatial Computing is essentially trying to get the computer to understand that, that world, that we live in, so that we can interact with the computer. Because everything else up to now has been us trying to adapt to the computer’s world. […] Spatial Computing is adding a few new technologies in order to bring the intelligence of the computer into our world.“