On June 5, Apple launched Apple Vision Pro, a new type of spatial computer that uses augmented reality goggles to allow users to experience a blend between the digital and physical worlds. The device promises to offer its users an infinite canvas for apps, larger and more immersive than traditional displays, while allowing them to stay present and connected to others. It features visionOS, the first spatial operating system to create this new way of interacting with digital content. Previous concepts like the metaverse have promised to transform the way we experience digital worlds, with architects taking the opportunity to delve into the design of restriction-free virtual spaces. Could this new device bring new ways of experiencing three-dimensional spaces, to better integrate architecture with digital environments?
In Apple’s vision, spatial computing is revolutionary in the way it blends digital content with physical space. Vision Pro enables users to interact with applications floating in the space they are in, through eye and hand gestures, along with voice control. Users can also choose to replace their visible environment with an immersive background image, which, according to Apple, would partially dissolve when any human enters the space. The device transforms the entire field of vision into a display without completely disconnecting the user from the physical world.
It might be too early to assess the potential of this new technology on the way we experience spaces, but it seems to address a generalised desire to break away from the restrictive screens and to move toward enjoying more immersive environments without losing access to digital opportunities. The concept of augmented reality has proved to hold a lot of potential for architects, with some using it to enhance craftsmanship and improve on-site construction, others to gamify urban environments, and even to experiment and test out complex designs that would be costly or difficult to implement in the physical world.
The field of technology has been advancing fast, as newly available Artificial Intelligence systems seem to announce the beginning of a 21st-century digital renaissance. At the moment, the field appears to be bursting with opportunities, and architects have been quick to react and experiment with the new tools: employing ChatGPT to generate ideas, transforming text into images with generative tools like Midjourney or Dall-E, and venturing into the promise of the Metaverse. The previous success of CAD and BIM computing techniques has proven that technological innovations have the potential to change not only the way in which architects work but also the variety of designs they can envision.
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