Wednesday, June 07, 2023

Apple set the pace in AR and learning

Artificial Intelligence is like a black hole sucking in all attention in learning technology but I’ve just finished a book on the shift that is taking place in parallel from 2D to 3D. The world’s major religions have all posited another virtual 3D afterlife, we build monumental 3D spaces as theatres, cinemas, sports stadia and so on for social gatherings, we have had full-blown 3D video games since the early 90s, Roblox, Fortnite and Minecraft have hundreds of millions of users. We are 3D people who live and work in a 3D world, yet most learning is 2D text on paper, PowerPoint or 2D images and text on screens.

Vision Pro

I have always maintained that the shift into virtual worlds will happen and have written about this extensively. What it needed was a consumer tech that would make it happen. Apple have just released their Visio Pro and although this is not it, Apple have set the standard and trajectory going forward. What they're after is the redefinition of the human-machine interface. It has an eye watering price at $3500 and, at 2 hours, limited battery time, but oh what a product. To be fair it is called ‘Pro’ as they’re releasing it to the research and professional market.

Apple is selling a dream machine here, a window into new immersive realities. This opens the mind up to heavens on earth but also combinations of the real and unreal. You are not looking at a screen, you are in a world. This is the fundamental shift that Apple is now selling. This is not using a device, it is being inside a device. 


Superb interface

It is a complete computer on your head with a ton of sensors inside and outside. No controllers, you just look (eye tracking is sensational) and pinch your fingers. It is fast and accurate and highlights what you are looking at and you can click wherever you want. Keyboard can pop up, you can also talk to type. As it has its own OS, called Vision OS, it’s the real deal. Like touching on an iPAD, you can look and use your hands to select, scroll, throw, resize, drag stuff around, with low latency. It will also synch with your Mac to use the desktop and other applications. It will mirror your display as if it were a Mac with a giant screen. Optical ID is included for privacy. You can play games, watch movies or use it as a desktop. This is a typical Apple move. Refine the user experience, make it as simple and intuitive as possible. Imagine this combination of eye tracking, gestures and voice recognition on all future devices.

Voice recognition is important as AI has now provided that interface into Chatbot functionality, where the Chatbot will truly understand your meaning. The learning possibilities are mind blowing.


This interface opens the device up to learning as you’re not taking up tons of cognitive bandwidth, only looking, pinching and talking. I can already see training in real contexts taking place with AI generated avatars and 3D worlds, sophisticated learning pathways, real assessment of performance and great data tracking, even of eye movements and behaviours.



Quite cleverly, it renders the part you’re looking at in more detail, not the whole screen – so it is super-sharp. For learning the passthrough opens up all sorts of possibilities in mixed reality and with passthrough, as you can have all sorts of mixed reality learning experiences. The AR learning opportunities are endless as layers of reality can be presented. 


There is one very strange feature. The front of the headset has a screen that displays your eyes, not your real eyes but a representation of your eyes. If this sound weird, it is, but the idea is to make you more human from the outside. Very Apple.



Apple will watch and see what developers will come up with. I suspect entertainment, ring-side seats at sports events, cinema and games will figure large. But it is the desktop market that is the new battleground and they’ve made a move, way ahead of the awful Hololens from Microsoft. 


Expensive and the separate battery hanging from a cord, with only 2 hours battery time is a bit of a disappointment, one movie and you’re out. Not out until early next year but what a product.

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