Nothing gets consumer excitement reaching fever pitch quite like a brand-new Apple product launch. But when it comes to the Apple Vision Pro, it’s brands who should be champing at the bit.
Launching tomorrow, and already sold out, this is Apple’s long-awaited foray into the extended reality (XR) market – or spatial computing to be precise.
The headset, starting at US$3,499 won’t be in everyone’s shopping basket on day one. It won’t reach the sales numbers of the iPad in its first year. But it does signal the start of something bigger in the world of technology.
As of tomorrow, Apple, Meta, HP, Microsoft and HTC all have headsets available to consumers. We were lucky enough to see Sony launch its next generation headset while we were at CES this month. And Google has had famous inroads with its smart glasses headwear, while maintaining a foot somewhat in the market with investment in Magic Leap.
That’s a lot of major tech players. And now Apple has officially joined them, signaling to everyone that XR isn’t a fad or just for gamers; it’s being betted on big time by tech’s high rollers.
So why should brands in particular be excited?
For one, they’ve been given new, exciting and immersive channels to meet their customers – channels that should invigorate any marketer or innovation expert. Here’s what they need to know, and why now is the time for brands to revisit their XR/VR/AR strategies.
1. The start of the spatial race
Spatial computing brings together real and virtual worlds, embedding digital content into real environments. It’s a slick way of wrapping user experience around our lives.
And it’s through high-end XR headsets where users will be able to see this collision of worlds. Apple’s launch video of the Vision Pro perhaps summarizes this best.
Think about what brands can do when they get their hands on this level of immersion. In eCommerce, it means bringing realistic digital versions of clothes, accessories, furniture, cars and other products into people’s living rooms.
Perhaps more nuanced, instead of staff training being done on laptops, via scores of information on a flat web page, it can become an immersive experience. Visuals can overlap the real world to give context; guidance can even be given by digital humans – AI-powered avatars that can autonomously live in these scenarios and roleplay with trainees.
It’s a new class of content, designed to be engaging and engaged with, either through body movements or conversation.
Considering 90% of execs say current employee training methods need to be more effective, it’s telling that digital humans have a 95% effectiveness score in training and education use cases.
AWE says, Sony’s newly announced XR2+ Gen 2 headset will reshape “standards in enterprise spatial content creation“ too. So whether you’re an Apple fan or not, you have plenty of options for immersing your business in extended realities, and the ability to create content people can connect with.
2. Digital humans, AI and the importance of a human experience
It’s clear that Apple believes in the value of interacting with someone face to face. It’s why they launched FaceTime back in 2010. It’s why the Vision Pro is able to digitally scan your face so you can have conversations via avatars through the headset.
The largest company in the world sees that customers don’t just want digital experiences, they also want human experiences in a digital world.
So how will brands find their place within this world? Well, no doubt within the next five years we’ll likely find ourselves as customers talking with avatars, controlled by a person.
But that’s only a tiny part of the potential. AI can start to scale into places humans can’t. For example, digital product experts will be on-hand to serve everyone shopping in a brand’s XR store at once. Everyone!
These AI avatars can give guidance, help shoppers find the right products, explain how those products work – everything a great store assistant does today, but at a huge scale.
AI-powered avatars can become tour guides to conferences or any other event where brands would like to meet their customers in real time.
Sales teams will practice their sales pitches with AI humans, running through real-life sales scenarios and improving the teams’ skills.
The best bit? Brands can build these applications now. It’s why we launched our digital human SDK for AR and VR; to allow marketing teams to build experiences on Apple Vision Pro in weeks, not years. Because the question isn’t whether brands are going to represent themselves in immersive worlds, it’s which brands are going to be leaders in doing so.
3. Finally, immense personalization at scale
Imagine sitting on your couch and unpacking your Apple Vision Pro tomorrow. You take it out of the box, slip it and secure it snugly onto your head. You power it on and Apple’s welcome message starts. It asks your name. It says “look to your right”.
Materializing next to you on the couch, sitting casually with his legs crossed and a cup of coffee in hand, is Steve Jobs, beautifully recreated in his prime – complete with signature black turtleneck and a slight knowing smile.
He welcomes you using your first name. He thanks you for your purchase, and for being one of the first people to speak with him in this way. His voice has the same contagious enthusiasm you’ve heard through his many media appearances, but it’s quieter for this more intimate environment, and directed at you.
What happens next is your choice.
You could ask digital human Steve to show you what you can do with the headset, getting some pro tips on how it works, or what apps he recommends you start with. You could discuss Apple’s vision and his thoughts on spatial computing. Or you could ask him for stories from his career, what his favorite sandwich is – anything.
An integration with Apple AI’s LLM would make it simple for him to answer any question; or for him to ask you things, like any true two-way conversation.
Of course this experience won’t be available to those unboxing their Apple Vision Pro tomorrow (sorry). But all the technology is available to do this today. In fact, any brand could do it using their own ambassador, founder, CEO, mascot – any personality people would want to engage with – as well as our SDK.
And we think that will happen sooner rather than later.
Because who doesn’t want a personal, one-on-one conversation with an icon? Because personalization is a hallmark of fast-growing and successful brands. And because conversations with people that feel real are the very peak of personalization today.