Apple Vision Pro First Impressions | Info Diet #6
Tech, being human, and finding the balance between the two
Finally, after a year of anticipating, predicting, and hoping, I got my hands on an Apple Vision Pro.
I just walked into an Apple Store and bought it off the shelf. Easy peasy.
It was a surreal moment.
I’ve spent the past decade trying to make spatial computing real. Trying to make it matter. For most of that time, the average person just didn’t care, didn’t get it, or didn’t think it’d ever be a thing.
And then suddenly…. here was the defining retail space of our generation, flipped into a spatial computing shrine; a table full of Apple Vision Pro’s (AVP) stretched across the middle of the store, videos about the promise of spatial computing played on every wall, and a line of people wrapped around the walls, waiting for their glimpse of the future.
In the middle of the store was a ‘demo lounge’. People of all types were getting immersed: kids, parents, grandparents, business types, artistic types, tech nerds, jocks, you name it.
That was the moment that it really hit me; seeing all of their reactions. It was a cacophony of oooo’s, aaahhh’s, wow’s, holy shit’s, omg’s, unreal’s, amazing’s, etc.
All these years I’ve wondered if I was crazy. I’ve wondered if I was wasting the prime years of my career. I’ve wondered if all the countless demos, prototypes, events, presentations, business trips, and late night rants would ever amount to anything.
But in that moment, I was awash with excitement and relief.
I was re-energized.
I realized… it was going to be okay. I’m not crazy and this hasn’t been a waste. Spatial computing is going to be a thing and its going to change the world.
While we still have a ways to go… the dress rehearsal is over. It’s time to educate, integrate, and build.
My First Impressions
Despite all my essays and podcast appearances talking about the Vision Pro, most of my takes were based on second hand sources. I had yet to try the Vision Pro myself. I was taking a bit of a leap of faith…
I’ve now spent 5-6 hours in the device (including throughout my Sunday morning routine of coffee, journaling, house cleaning, and friends/family catchup calls).
And while my opinions are still forming, I thought I’d give a quick breakdown of my initial impressions (removing as much industry bias as possible).
In a sentence: The Vision Pro is incredible, and despite some mainstream media takes, it’s quite useful right out of the box, especially for certain types of people & professionals.
That said, it’s certainly an MVP (minimum viable product). Albeit, a powerful and massively impactful one at that. I can’t overstate the technical breakthrough here… the end result is a UI/UX that makes you want to come back for more (unlike devices to date).
While far from mainstream-ready, it's the 'mainstream awareness' and the starting gun we’ve been waiting for since the 60's.
All of my original takes (from this essay) hold true, especially on the use cases front.
There is immediate utility & value for…
Screen Replacement: a mobile 'virtual workspace', hyper conducive to focus and flow. As a writer & podcast/video editor... this is my primary use case. - Limitless Home Theater: The Vegas Sphere or IMAX in your living room, in your hotel, on the plane, etc. (watching Masters of Air with the Sahara Desert all around me was...
Sports & Entertainment: the spatial video experiences are mesmerizing. I mean... Being inside the recording studio with Alicia Keys? Behind the goal of an MLS game as the ball rips into the top corner? Pure goosebumps... this is the use case that will sell hundreds of millions of devices come V2.
Spatial & Hands Free FaceTime: Turning your friends & family into the Wizard of Oz in your living room for a catch up chat is awesome, especially in being hands free, allowing you to do go about your day (e.g. while making coffee, cleaning the house, making a meal, etc)
3D Presentations: Using apps like JigSpace to tell stories about complex products or plans. This will almost certainly be the best way to convey value about anything that is inherently 3D. Enterprise knowledge transfer... fully unlocked.
Spatial Memories: Re-experiencing special moments through the spatial photo/video capture... I've seen a surprising number of people cry from this experience. (Some wild philosophical implications from being able to relive memories at this level of fidelity...)
Okay, as a V1 product, it’s not all rainbows & sunshine.
Here are some of the cons:
Avatars: You become an awkward avatar to others during the spatial FacetTime, and... the Apple Avatars have a long way to go (granted, it is in 'Beta')
Weight: The weight is noticeable after 45/60 mins. But you can offset this with proper headband adjustment and/or using the alternate headband. (An observation: Despite that initial discomfort... the experience was so compelling that I didn't care at first. So much so that it sparked a desperation to find that sweet spot of weight distribution... Thankfully, it exists)
iPhone Visibility: you can't see your iPhone screen via the pass-through quite as clearly as I'd hoped. And there's not yet a way to mirror your phone in the device, although I've heard this is coming.
Lack of multiplayer mode: the primary downside is the extent to which its all single player, today... The real magic is going to be collaborative experiences. This is obviously on the near term horizon, so the negative quips about isolation don't hold much weight for me, at all...
Last thing I'll say... there's something about the wonder & awe induced by these experiences. Especially in watching other peoples reactions.
I brought the AVP to a little soiree and 'spatial-pilled' a bunch of first timers (and some hard core skeptics).
Their reactions were priceless: gaping mouths, gasps of disbelief, rants about all the possibilities. And the skeptics finally got it; classic case of 'gotta see it to believe it'.
My buddy ‘Eric the Skeptic’ said it himself… (this video is pretty hilarious and worth watching. He’s in the recording studio with Alicia Keys, and as a pianist himself, she’s one of his idols).
Here’s my friend Mike, an avid technologist who is equally as difficult to impress…
My main takeaway from these reactions: this tech taps into a level of human programming that is otherwise unreachable. But we can now access it on demand, while also measuring & understanding it in all kinds of ways.
It's hard to imagine all the magic we can harness as a result, for both our internal & external development.
This of course can be wielded for good & bad... It’s up to us to set the right guardrails, understand its power & effects, and harness the upside accordingly. Because no doubt... the upside is limitless... (especially when combined with AI).
We’ll cover more on this topic in a near-term future essay….
Until then, here’s this week’s Info Diet!
The Info Diet #5
Welcome to edition #5 of ‘The Info Diet’ by Medium Energy: a simple list of content that has grabbed me most (articles, podcasts, videos, or books).
For the new comers… this ‘information diet’ is broken into three buckets:
(1) Technology- news & trends around all things cutting edge tech, with a focus on AI, spatial computing, and blockchain
(2) Being Human- all things that promote well-being and self-improvement, e.g. psychology, leadership, mental health, neuroscience, fitness
(3) Tech + Being Human- examples of all the goodness that arises when we properly merge buckets #1 and #2, aka: the upside from finding the right balance, or healthy tension, between tech and being human
Framing the Future of the Internet: Finally, a crypto/Web3 use case with real consumer potential: Farcaster- a protocol for building decentralized social networks. If you’re a skeptic about this space, this article is a must read. Promising stuff. .
Sam Altman raising $5 - $7 TRILLION to build AI chips. This story is wild… but makes sense. Chips have become the most important & strategic resource of our time, and production capacity has consolidated into the hands of only a handful of players. Not to mention, the most important (TSMC), is at perpetual risk of hostile actionsn from China… I’m all for spreading out the power/bottle necks….
Extreme brainstorming questions to tigger new, better ideas- because the time to start thinking big and getting ambitious is now….
Gut bacteria + mental health: Scientists identify specific gut bacteria linked to severity of depression and anxiety symptoms. Get on those probiotics people.
The art of allowing change: Because we’re about to face a ton of it…
Tech + Being Human
AI starting to threaten white collar jobs… and few industries are immune. You don’t say!
MIT Study: AI not taking jobs- But wait… MIT CSAIL study reveals economic limits to job automation. Ah the joys of crossing the chasm!
AI that can induce and stabilize lucid dreams- Okay… this is just insane. Worth reading the thread, but basically, this is like a LLM, but rather than being prompted by text, its prompted by brain states. From there, instead of generating words, it generates “ultrasonic holograms for neurostimulation to bring one to a lucid state.” Aka: it can produce virtual reality without virtual reality…
From the company Propheitc… “our mission is to give humanity the tools to explore and expand consciousness. Morpheus-1 is a leap forward in that mission, moving us closer to ultrasonically inducing conscious experiences on-demand and changing the world forever.”
TLDR: Buckle up….
Thanks for reading Medium Energy by Evan Helda! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.