The metaverse as spatial computing

Image generated by Midjourney. Woman playing chess in a mixed reality setting.

Watching the Apple presentation of their headset, Vision Pro, made me ponder different perspectives on our digital future. Is it a metaverse in the sense of an interconnected universe of 3D environments where we perform various activities as avatars? This metaverse would be persistent, possess an economy, and allow the co-presence of millions of avatars. Let’s consider this the more traditional conception of the metaverse.

Alternatively, is it simply our physical environment where we interact with both physical and virtual objects, observe virtual screens, and encounter photorealistic faces? Would it involve interaction with other humans in a sort of hologram form, and with AI agents embodied as avatars or physical entities? This perspective more closely aligns with Apple’s view of the metaverse, which they would prefer to call ‘spatial computing’.

While Apple is keen to differentiate itself from Meta Platforms, their visions of our digital futures may not be that dissimilar. Both are developing glasses that appear ordinary but could enable us to spend extensive periods in a mixed reality, a world where digital and physical elements blend seamlessly. Their approaches, however, differ. Apple enjoys portraying the “real world” enriched with virtual elements, while Meta initially focused on a virtual environment replete with games. Nonetheless, even the upcoming Quest 3 is preparing us for a future more akin to mixed reality. On the other hand, the Vision Pro allows also for fully immersive virtual experiences. Headsets will evolve into glasses which will allow mixed reality and fully immersive experiences. But chances are that most of the time we’ll be in a mixed reality.

Fans of NFTs and web3 need not despair; their digital art will look striking in mixed reality. Those more inclined to experiment with avatars and identities will still have the freedom to do so. After a number of years, for those who will become native citizens of this mixed world, terms like “metaverse” and even “mixed reality” may sound dated. It will simply be the world, their world.

Read also this post on New World Notes: Vision Pro Developer Avi Bar-Zeev On Apple’s Spatial Computing / Personas Model Vs. The Metaverse Vs. Metaverse/Avatars Vision

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