A Comprehensive Guide to XR Technology for Fortune 500 Executives (PART 1)

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Table of Contents


  1. Introduction
    • A Note From the Author
    • About the Author
    • Acknowledgements
    • Objectives of this Guide
  1. An Introduction to XR
    • What is XR?
    • XR as a Computing Platform
    • The Scope and Adoption of Applications
    • The XR Ecosystem
    • The Current Headwinds and Tailwinds of XR
  1. What Apple’s Device Means for XR
    • Understanding Apple’s ‘Vision Pro’
    • Exploring Apple’s XR Ecosystem
    • Market Impact and Implications 
  1. Developing an XR Strategy
    • Align the XR Strategy with the Organization’s Goals and Objectives
    • Prioritizing Use Cases for XR Implementation
  1. XR Implementation Planning
    • Developing a Comprehensive XR Roadmap
    • Resource Allocation and Budgeting for XR Initiatives
    • Identifying & Mitigating Risks
  1. XR Development and Integration
    • Defining Technical Requirements and Specifications
    • Build vs Partner vs Buy
    • Collaborating with XR Technology Partners
    • Integration Considerations and Existing Infrastructure 
  1. XR Content Creation & Management
    • Creating Immersive XR Experiences
    • XR Content Creation Challenges
    • Content Management & Distribution Platforms
    • IP Considerations 
  1. User Experience & Design Principles
    • Prioritizing User-centered Design
  1. Ethical and Privacy Considerations
    • Addressing Ethical Considerations in XR
    • Data Privacy and User Consent
    • Ensuring Compliance with Legal and Regulatory
  1. Measuring Success & ROI
    • Defining KPIs and Metrics for XR Initiatives
    • Establishing Feedback Mechanisms
    • Assessing ROI and Making Data-Driven Decisions for Future XR Investments 
  1. Case Studies
    • Real-World Examples of Successful XR Implementations
  1. Conclusion
    • Embracing the Power of XR Technology
    • Positioning Your Organizations as an XR Leader

Introduction


A Note from the Author

Every now and then there is a wave of technology that flips our relationship with the world upside down. Some waves are bigger than others, some let you know that they are coming while others don’t, some seem huge and then they end up being small. 

Over the last decade, we have seen so many hype cycles. Technology professionals have craved an iPhone moment for their own brand of tech over the last decade, in many cases inventing more hype than progress. 

In reality, not many breakthroughs have actually changed how humans predominantly use technology. If you stop and think about it, we still use smartphones and laptops the same way we did 10 years ago, we almost even use the same bundle of apps.

That said, the waves that grow slowly and quietly, without too many others knowing, usually inflict the most impact and change. ChatGPT from OpenAI is the most recent example of this – not many saw it coming.

What if I told you that we are on the verge of another one now? What would you and your organization do? 

Some will try to duck under the wave to focus on what is next, some will start paddling in the right direction at just the right time and achieve enormous success, and most will be tossed and turned by white water until it’s too late to catch up.

You can already tell from the title of this guide that this emergent wave is an XR wave. Everyone in the XR industry has been awaiting this moment for years and now that the world’s most valuable company to ever exist has entered the landscape, we are finally here.

About the Author

Varag is the Founding Partner of Actuate, an LA based business and technology consultancy for accelerating enterprises and deep tech startups. Prior to Actuate, Varag was at Qualcomm through the acquisition of Clay AIR, a leading AI startup he led and operated in the XR space.  While at Clay AIR, Varag collaborated with most of the leading OEMs building XR devices and many of those building innovative XR software. His background is in product management, strategy consulting, and business development mostly in XR, mobile, wireless, and semiconductor industries. He’s worked with global tech companies such as Samsung, Lenovo, Bose, and Deutsche Telekom as well as several ventured backed deep tech startups. Varag is an angel investor and constantly connecting with entrepreneurs, innovators, and VCs to help jumpstart new technologies, products and companies. In his free time, Varag loves to spend time with his family, drive sports cars, and golf.

varag@actuatetech.co | LinkedIn

Acknowledgments

There are several professionals who have helped, in various capacities, shape the thoughts of the author through the last decade. Below is a list of the individuals who have most impacted the author’s views and deserve acknowledgement. 

The statements made in this guide, however, including those with any potential inaccuracies, are the views of the author and interpretations of the cited sources. Those individuals listed here may or not agree with these points of view.

  • Terry Schussler
  • Jon Pershke
  • Eric Mizufuka
  • Anshel Sag
  • Taron Khachatryan 
  • Said Bakadir
  • Andy Gstoll
  • Sven Brunner
  • Leon Laroue
  • Ross Finman
  • Steve Lukas
  • Dave Haynes
  • Marc Lebovitz
  • Eric Johnsen
  • Alvin Wang Graylin
  • Juan David Ramos
  • Eric Trabold
  • Tipatat Chennavasin
  • John Haddick
  • Josh Sackman
  • Dan Nilsson
  • Jason McDowall
  • Matt Miesniks
  • Richard Ward
  • Prince Gupta
  • Nima Shams
  • Charlie Fink
  • Hiren Bhinde
  • Matt Coleman
  • Alan Smithson
  • Michael AM Davies
  • Matt Stern
  • Reed Hayes
  • James Cooper
  • Krasi Nikolov
  • Dan Flanegan
  • Arian Ghashghai
  • Mike Wikan
  • Mike Lohse
  • Vinay Narayan
  • Mayan Shay May-Raz

Objectives of this Guide

This is not the first time an XR guide has been put together. However, many of the other resources are either too technical or too superficial, making them unactionable for executives.

The purpose of this guide is to help leaders of large complex organizations understand XR technology, its implications, and give them the knowledge to take action in the best direction given their business goals, internal resources, and the ecosystem they have to navigate. 

After reading this guide executives of all industries should be able to –

A. Understand XR technology and its impact

B. Determine how to best leverage XR for their organization

C. Have a clear blueprint to execute

This guide will be a living document that will constantly be iterated based on feedback and changing dynamics in the industry.

An Introduction to XR


What is XR?

For those that are new to XR, it makes sense to have a brief primer.

Acronyms can be confusing, and ‘XR’ is no exception. ‘XR’ stands for Extended Reality, a catch all phrase for all the different forms of Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR).

Lately there has been much confusion between ‘XR’ and ‘Metaverse’. Although not all industry participants are not exactly clear on the lines. Below is a definition of ‘Metaverse’ that seems to least upset those who have read it so far.

‘Metaverse’ – Computer generated virtual 3D environments, typically internet and or blockchain enabled, that enables users to simulate what they do in the real world and beyond. 

In other words, ‘XR technologies’ are various immersive forms of ‘computing platforms’ that can be used to interface with one or more ‘metaverses’.

PC-based web 3.0 enabled metaverses, such as Decentraland or Sandbox, caused some confusion last year. They are very interesting although they often don’t use XR technology.

Below is a nice infographic that tells the story better than words –

Forms of XR1

AR, VR, and MR live on a spectrum of immersion. All other aspects being equal, Virtual Reality tends to be the most immersive form of XR because it completely consumes users’ field of view with digital content to simulate a new reality. 

Augmented reality is exactly how it sounds, users still engage with reality but ‘augment’ their experience with the right digital content (usually visual), hopefully at the right time and place.  

Mixed Reality is a relatively new term and a recent breakthrough, it ‘mixes’ virtual content intelligently with the real world, making them indistinguishable. This is more recently accomplished with external color cameras on the exterior of the device that ‘pass through’ their feed that viewers can view through the display. 

VR experiences tend to be more stationary while AR can be more ‘on the go’ for users. 

A parallel term, Spatial Computing, refers to  ‘human interaction with a machine in which the machine retains and manipulates references to real objects and spaces.’2

In other words, XR refers to a form of technology that enables spatial computing, whether it takes the form of AR, VR, and or MR.

The most adopted form of XR is actually smartphone based AR, which is used to power social experiences such as Instagram, Snap, and Pokemon Go. Most other forms of XR take the form of HMDs (Head Mounted Displays).

The majority of this guide is oriented towards HMD use cases and considerations. This form of XR is transformational and represents a new device category with a different computing architecture and interface.

XR as a Computing Platform

When considering XR as a computing platform the potential impact is almost limitless. What is a computing platform? Unlike  ‘XR’ or ‘Metaverse’ this term is more understood – 

‘Computing platform’ – A computer platform is a system that consists of a hardware device and an operating system that an application, program or process runs upon. An example of a computer platform is a desktop computer with Microsoft Windows installed on it. A desktop is a hardware device and Windows is an operating system. Computing platforms also include the input and output mechanisms for users like any other system.3

Computing platforms are the most impactful technological engines that have powered the most innovative applications the world has ever seen over the last thirty years, possibly ever. 

The most simple and recent example of a computing platform is the smartphone. If we summed all the functionalities, benefits, and value that smartphones have provided users in the last 15 years, what other platform or tool could compare? In 2022, developers on Apple’s App Store created $1.1 trillion in billings and sales in 2022.4

How much have smartphone applications contributed to industries like transportation, education, communication, finance, and healthcare? How does that contribution compare to the internal efforts in those industries? 

Dominant computing platforms like the smartphone do not come often, but when they do, they create shifts that forever change the way we work, communicate, learn, and experience life. 

Improving computing platforms or creating better ones, although very complicated and expensive, is one of the best ways to advance and improve our world.

Current computing platforms, laptops and smartphones, are not perfect and have limitations mostly because of their limited bandwidth and interface with the user. 

Elon Musk once commented on this –  “We’re a 300 baud modem. Very slowly outputting information into our phone or maybe a little bit faster into a computer if you’re using 10 fingers.”5

As much as smartphones and laptops have connected their users, they have taken those same users away from their physical environment and made them less present. Furthermore, certain computing tasks remain impossible because of limited screen real estate. The content is 2D and not as experiential as it could be, data has become too centralized and compromised, which is a big driver behind the web 3 movement.

What is special about XR as a computing platform? 

Instead of an external and separate device we view and touch with our hands, XR (HMD) based experiences eliminate the 2D square interface and unlock a limitless simulated three dimensional interface, similar to how humans first processed the world through their eyes.

The goal with XR HMDs is to eliminate the concept of an artificial interface altogether. Below is a list of new possibilities as a result –

  • Reconnect users with their physical worlds
    • Augmented and Mixed Reality, especially through headsets, enable users to view synthetic 3D content exactly when and where they need it
  • Reconnect us with loved ones and new people
    • Although smartphones connect us through text and video calls they don’t make us feel present and in the moment. XR, especially VR, has the power to make us feel present with one another in almost any simulated or imagined environment at the push of a button
    • When done right it might be enough to replace social IRL (In Real Life) experiences. This is globalization at another level.
  • Evoke memorable emotion
    • Humans have better memory when a new stimulation or experience is tied to a particular physical location or emotion. With XR technology we can create and deliver digital experiences that provoke emotions indistinguishable from real life.
    • This is part of the reason why anyone who has tried VR remembers their experience
  • Enable the most natural, limitless, and immersive computing
    • XR worlds, unlike monitors and screens, are physically boundless and AR/MR uses our real world as its substrate for rendering content to the user.

The Scope and Adoption of Applications 

These unique capabilities of XR computing platforms unlock new and exciting use cases.

Through the last ten years the XR industry has witnessed various applications and companies arrive and depart the industry. Through this experimentation XR has earned its permanent and consistent role in many industries. 

Below is a review of XR use cases in various industries, they are approximately ranked from most to least adoption. Some of these use cases are better suited for AR vs VR. These tradeoffs will be covered in a future section. 

XR Use Cases – Most to Least Adopted6

Healthcare is arguably the most important industry to the wellbeing of our society, and it is interesting to see XR driving considerable impact.

Below is an infographic of some of the more notable XR startups in healthcare – 

XR Startups in Healthcare7

The XR Ecosystem

This section describes the structures of the XR industry, which is made up of several types of stakeholders. 

At the highest level, some of these stakeholders, and in some cases companies, are shared across AR and VR. This section will describe the function of each key type of stakeholder and the value that flows amongst them. The analysis is mostly focused on VR, although the ecosystem structure in the AR industry is similar but less developed in comparison. 

XR Ecosystem Structure8

The figure above captures the key stakeholders that are core to enabling XR. This map is not exhaustive, as there are some stakeholders who serve these core stakeholders more foundationally, such as semiconductor and wireless carriers.

Each stakeholder type in the figure above is described in further detail in the sections below –

Head Mounted Displays (HMDs)

Starting from the bottom left, ‘HMD’ companies provide the hardware core of the XR experience, including the hardware needed to enable all forms of HMDs. Given the complexity of different types of hardware within an ‘HMD’, these players participate in various levels of the design, manufacturing, and assembly of the components and hardware required to make a production ‘HMD’. 

For example, HTC’s ‘Vive XR Elite’, a leading VR HMD, includes chipsets from various vendors. Some of these hardware partners, such as Samsung, may have their own HMD VR products as they supply components for others. In this sense, VR hardware can be horizontal and partnership-friendly, similar to the smartphone industry. 

It is noteworthy that there are several stakeholders that are not shown in the image above such as semiconductor, and semiconductor equipment players that provide the electronic wafers required to create chipsets, displays, and casings that are used to create HMDs.

AR HMD companies design, engineer, manufacture, and assemble the hardware core of the AR experience, including key enabling components such as displays, GPUs, and optics. Similar to VR, these AR players participate in various levels of the design, manufacturing, and assembly of the components required to make a production AR HMD. 

For example, Microsoft’s ‘Hololens’, a leading AR HMD, includes chipsets from various vendors. Microsoft may have designed and engineered these components, but have chip vendors manufacture them. Some of these hardware partners may have their own ‘Wearable AR’ products while they supply components for others. In this sense, the AR hardware world is sometimes horizontal and a partnership friendly one, similar to the VR industry.9

Input 

‘Input’ companies provide all the devices that are an ‘input’ to the user experience. The most common input devices are controllers, such as Oculus’ ‘Touch’ controller. There are several variants of input devices emerging that are adding to the experience. For example, omnidirectional treadmills capture the direction and rate that users are moving and translate that data to the VR system. Other input devices are related to eye tracking, haptic gloves, hand tracking, air pressure systems, and products that create olfactory experiences

Most of these devices share a common purpose of bringing users’ bodies and senses into a synthetic world. Theoretically, the more inputs in a VR system, the more sophisticated and complex it becomes. However, more devices demand limited compute and energy resources and demand users to handle even more devices, increasing behavioral change. 

Like HMD players, companies creating input devices can be horizontally or vertically oriented. Furthermore, many of them, such as Google, create both the HMD and the input device together, ensuring interoperability. Input devices are critical to the user experience as they often define the user experience and interface.

Controllers are not as popular of a form of input with AR HMDs. Rather cameras or Infrared Sensors are used to track a users’ hand gestures or eyes. For example, the HoloLens detects when users have pinched their index and thumb together to create an event within the user interface. 

Reality Capture 

These players provide value to the industry by manufacturing or using sophisticated cameras to capture the natural world. These companies often differentiate themselves and function differently in one more or more of several ways. Some simply procure assembled cameras and only differentiate themselves through creative choices of the content they capture. Other companies will differentiate themselves by assembling a custom rig of cameras, increasing the quality and ease to develop content. Lastly, other players will create their own camera to increase the quality of capture. Although cameras are beginning to have higher fields of view, almost all of these reality players need to use software to ‘stitch’ together the frames that their camera systems capture. 

A newer form of capture, known as volumetric capture, creates more rich content by capturing light rays from more directions than traditional cameras. However, the magnitude of data for this type of content is very high, requiring more compute resources

‘Reality Capture’ for AR HMDs can include similar players and content from the VR industry. However, a key distinction is that ‘Reality Capture’ in AR can include a camera that is on board the AR HMD. 

Content is critical to the adoption and evolution of XR HMDs.

3D Tools 

Several companies create software tools that enable content for XR. Some of these tools are to create Computer Generated Images (CGI) while others are used to stitch together frames from reality capture. A proportion of the content that is viewed in VR is Computer Generated (CGI). The most popular VR tool for CGI design and development is a tool known as Unity, which is also used for the development of most popular games. 

Unity is a product platform used by ‘Application/Content’ developers to create experiences for users. It is a platform because it provides developers with the most common and core functions, libraries, and digital assets required to make XR experiences. 

‘3D Tools’ providers are very central to the development of content in the industry. They invest in making their tools more powerful and educating developers. A key function of ‘3D Tools’ is to standardize various development functions and democratize best practices, making it easier for developers to collaborate and come up the learning curve. These players also collaborate closely with HMD companies, such as Meta’s Oculus Quest, to bundle their products together for developers. Doing so creates an industry platform for other companies to build their solutions. 

Distribution 

Distribution companies in this industry help developer’s applications reach interested users. In essence, they act as a platform between content and application stakeholders and users. Distribution companies usually create search functionality to help with content discovery. They differentiate themselves by search, the scope and availability of content, and the feedback functionality that they provide to users. These companies are similar to the ‘Play Store’ and ‘App Store’ of Android and iOS platforms.

Application/Content 

These companies are the closest to end users and customers. They develop the applications and content that end consumers or enterprises ultimately consume. In some cases, these companies, such as Sony or HTC, can be the same as those who create HMDs, Input, and distribution channels. 

Most ‘Application’ companies are startups or Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) who are looking to leverage the industry as a platform. They partner and use the HMDs, input devices, 3D tools, and distribution products and services of other companies to create unique applications that they can provide for end users. 

These companies, similar to application companies for other platforms, compete with one another to capture the attention of users. Because XR is a new medium for many of these companies, the learning curve for design is new and steep. 

Below is a figure that summarizes these stakeholder types, including the value they deliver and receive in the ecosystem. 

XR Stakeholder Value Exchange10

The Current Headwinds and Tailwinds of XR

There are technical and non-technical headwinds and tailwinds that are simultaneously pushing XR forward and slowing it down. The chart below showcases some of these by form of XR.

Headwinds & Tailwinds by Form of XR11

As seen in the image above, there are more tailwinds for less immersive forms of XR as they require fewer resources to unlock. Mobile or Smartphone based AR has fewer challenges, along with a massive installed base, it has much more adoption than more complex or immersive forms of XR. AR and MR HMDs require new and more expensive complex hardware and content development.

Over the last several years the most significant and persistent of these headwinds include – 

  • Unclear UI/UX
  • Uncompelling content
  • Difficult to author content for users
  • Observability/discoverability

These are critical components in the creation and adoption of new computing platforms. 

What Apple’s Device Means for XR


The headwinds that are holding back XR as a computing platform happen to be the exact capabilities and resources of Apple as a company. This section will explore their impact.

Apple is known for its design oriented culture and will not release a product without an intuitive user design. Because it already owns and operates a diverse set of apps and content, Apple has brought compelling and familiar applications and content to their XR device unlike other device players. 

Smartphones are easy to carry, try, and discover among users. On the other hand, XR devices are not nearly as discoverable. Unlike competitor XR device makers like Meta and HTC, Apple has its own stores that enables users to actually experience XR in the most ideal and controllable environment. This is a consistently overlooked advantage of Apple.

Creating a successful XR device in the marketplace requires so many factors that are almost impossible for one company to encompass. As it did for the smartphone, Apple has the missing ingredients the XR industry needs to become the next computing platform.

Understanding Apple’s ‘Vision Pro’ 

Apple’s new device is called the Apple ‘Vision Pro’. The company has deemed it the ‘the most advanced personal electronics device ever.’12

Apple’s Vision Pro Device13

Apple shared several features of the product, many of which addressed the aforementioned missing ingredients and differentiated itself from other devices.

Below is a table of Apple’s Reality Pro features and the user capabilities that they unlock –

Features/AttributesUser capabilities/benefits
Higher resolution display: Dual Micro OLED with 23 million pixels per eye  Users can read sharp text at more angles and points of view, with wide color and high dynamic ranges.  Less blur that causes eye strain and no ‘screen door effect’ as with other devices. This means personal computing is now possible and comfortable.
Higher resolution external RGB cameras that enable ‘pass through’ mode Users can see their real world with an overlay of digital content with more clarity without having to take their headset off.
Depth cameras (LiDAR & TrueDepth)Users can more accurately map the digital content seen through the display with the surfaces and geometries of their real environment, even leaving shadows on the environment around it.
Hand & Eye Tracking (low-latency)Users can unlock their device more quickly and navigate the user interface with natural eye movements (glance) and comfortable finger gestures for selection (pinch). 

No controllers will be required, making the device more portable and easier to use.
App compatibility Users can experience apps they already enjoy on other Apple devices, even projecting their own screens onto the Vision Pro’s.
 
Other mentioned apps also include: Microsoft Office, Teams, Webex, and Zoom.
Switch between MR <> VR with crownAn external dial, similar to those found on the Apple Watch, will enable users to easily switch between AR & VR depending on how much immersion the user would like.
Voice inputWith Siri, users can open and close apps, and navigate more quickly. This gives the user complete control of their Vision Pro, with speech to text instantly activated when gazing at a search bar.
EyeSight trackingReveals users’ eyes on external display to eliminate isolation from others during use. The device will also recognize when others are nearby and bring them into the focus of the user. 
iCloud & Device syncThe Vision Pro device is always in sync with other devices through iCloud, enabling longer usage sessions.

Vision Pro also syncs with MacBook Pro & Apple keyboards wirelessly for more productivity and extended monitor use cases.
Remote collaborationApple’s FaceTime integration allows the user to show their face although covered by the headset. This is done by scanning the face of the user with an AI model to create a realistic digital avatar that can be represented to others.
3D CameraEnables users to capture and view 3D videos with a press of a button.
Spatial cinemaTurn any room in a personal movie theater, including plane rides.
Triple-A ContentApple TV + & Disney + , including 3D movies. 
100+ arcade games with controller compatibility .
Advanced compute (M2 & R1)More battery life, less heat, low latency display rendering.

M2 – most advanced Apple compute platform.

R1 – brand new chip for real time sensor processing from 12 cameras, 5 sensors, 6 microphones, eliminates latency to just 12ms. 
Vision OSA new operating system that enables better display rendering and more efficient computing. This increases battery life and heat efficiency for the user.
Iris Optic ID / Privacy Enables secure and effortless authentication by reading the uniqueness of the users’ iris with encryption. 

This helps with faster unlocking, purchases, and password autofills.
Eye tracking data is kept private from 3rd parties.
ComfortSoft and textile parts for comfort and wearability, a modular design that enables tailoring the user to the device for a precise fit. 
Custom optical insertsEnables users to experience with their glass prescriptions without compromising display and eye tracking experience.
Spatial & ambient audio ray tracing Precisely matches sound to the user’s environment, adding to the reality of the digital content.

Apple’s Vision Pro was the culmination of 5,000 patents.14 

User Input & Experience

How does Apple’s Vision simplify user input and experience? 

Through a unique combination of eye and hand tracking and a familiar graphical interface. Users simply look at their point of interest and the system renders and highlights those pixels and waits to interpret a simple tap or pinch from the user’s hand. 

The images below showcase the interaction mechanisms as well as the highlighted application (i.e. Photos) from the user’s gaze as well the pinch and drag gesture from the hand.

Vision Pro User Inputs (Interactions, Highlighted Application w/ Eye Tracking, Pinch to Select)15

Because of the sophisticated cameras and their position onboard the HMD, users can relax their arms in natural positions and the system can still recognize the gesture. 

Siri, Apple’s famous voice assistant, is also onboard the device for quicker navigation. Millions of users are already familiar with Apple’s graphical user interface (GUI), and the Apple Vision Pro leverages this visual language to create an intuitive experience from first use.

Exploring Apple’s XR Ecosystem

Device and app ecosystems are becoming a more compelling reason that customers pick one device over another. Apple’s Vision Pro will have device and app interoperability that is unprecedented in the industry. This inherently enhances the capabilities and value of the Vision Pro device.

Device interoperability:

Seen in the image below, Apple’s Macbook Pro will wirelessly pair to the Vision Pro to mirror and extend the Macbook Pro’s display, making it side by side to native Vision Pro windows in pass through mode.

Apple Reality Pro Extending MacBook Display16

This is a notable feature because it enables millions of MacBook users to have a bridge to infinitely spatial screen real estate, eliminating the need for monitors.

The Vision Pro will also work with other devices such as Apple trackpads, keyboards, AirPods and other 3rd party gaming controllers. 17 Unlike most controllers on other XR systems, these are familiar input devices that will create a more enjoyable user experience.

Content & Applications:

Apple’s iPhone and Mac devices already have hundreds of thousands of apps with some of the world’s most talented developers. Apple will be enabling its developer community to port their iOS and iPad applications to the Vision Pro. 

These not only include apps and services directly from Apple, but also important third party apps that are already used by millions of users for general purpose computing, including Microsoft’s Office series and popular business conferencing apps like Teams, Webex, and Zoom.

The Vision Pro will have its own App Store with apps that are compatible for the device. This will become a centralized marketplace for users to discover, download, and install spatial applications from  developers. 

Apple announced that content from Apple TV and Disney+ will be available at launch of the Vision Pro. Some of this content is three dimensional and will include spatial features that are not possible on traditional 2D screens.

Although Apple is not known for being a gaming company, it is a vibrant arcade gaming ecosystem. The Vision Pro will come with 100 Apple Arcade games on day one of the release.18

On top of all of this, Apple found a way to include other XR developers into the vision of the Vision Pro.

Unity is a 3D software development engine with the most market share in XR development.19 Apple and Unity have partnered together to make it possible for XR applications to be ported into Vision Pro. Unity’s PolySpatial makes it easy to port Unity into RealityKit.20

Developer tools:

Apple provides software frameworks and development tools to enable XR app creation and integration. The key components include:

  1. Xcode: this is Apple’s integrated development environment for MacOS, iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, tvOS, and now Vision OS
  2. Swift: Apple’s latest programing language
  3. ARKit: Apple’s ARKit framework offers developers a set of tools, APIs, and libraries to build augmented reality experiences for Apple’s iPhone and iPad, and now Vision Pro.
  4. Reality Composer Pro: tool to assemble complex scenes with realistic objects

Xcode, Swift, ARKit, Reality Compose Pro21

The only new tool here is Reality Composer Pro. The other tools and languages are already very popular and will get updates for Vision OS and Vision Pro.

Currently, developers can request a compatibility evaluation through Apple Review and see a report on how their application may behave in Vision OS.22 Developers can also attend a Apple Vision Pro developer lab in Cupertino, London, Munich, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo to get direct support from Apple so that their applications will be ready when Vision Pro launches. Developer kits should be available before the launch as well.23

Discoverability:
As impressive as these device features and accompanying content are, they won’t achieve commercial adoption without a simple way to experience them.  

As mentioned above, unlike other computing devices and platforms, XR HMDs are not nearly as portable, mobile, and discoverable. The first experience almost always requires an assisted and controlled demo. 

With approximately 500 stores and 10,000 unique visitors a week, approximately 5,000,000 or more could experience the Vision Pro in a controlled environment in just a week.24

This is a critical element that will help evangelize the Vision Pro to the world.

Ultimately, Apple’s ecosystem focuses on delivering user-friendly and high-quality spatial computing experiences across its range of devices. With a strong emphasis on integration, hardware-software optimization, and developer support, Apple aims to provide users with immersive and engaging XR content while ensuring a consistent and seamless experience throughout its ecosystem.

Market Impact and Implications

In the diffusion of new computing platforms there is a lesser known but accurate concept of ‘Dominant Design’ from James Utterback, a renown MIT professor. 

Dominant Design is a concept that describes the ‘de facto’ or standard architecture of products within a particular industry. In the early days of an industry, enterprises tend to invest, design, engineer, and build products with their own distinctive designs. This is inherently resource intensive and causes fragmentation of products and experiences for users in the industry. Examples of this can be seen in many industries, particularly those where technology products are central. 25

The dominant design of an industry is not necessarily the best design, but rather one that is well received in the market and dependent on technology roadmaps. Utterback, and his colleague William Abernathy, demonstrate that the emergence of a dominant design has major implications for an industry: 

1) Maturity within the industry 

2) Shift in competition 

3) Imminent growth26

Phases of Innovation and Dominant Design27

The Apple iPhone is a great example of a dominant design that signaled and partially caused radical growth in the smartphone industry, as seen in the figure below. The product’s intuitive multi-touch UI helped the smartphone device ecosystem converge around one user experience, enabling incumbents to focus on ‘Process Innovation.’ Today the smartphone industry has arguably entered the ‘Specific Phase.’

Dominant Design & US Smartphone Penetration28

Similarly, Apple’s Reality Pro, for the reasons mentioned in the prior section, is likely the dominant design that will push the XR industry through an inflection point of adoption. As a result, the industry has now entered the Transitional Phase, where process innovation takes hold.

Developing an XR Strategy


Align the XR Strategy with the Organization’s Goals and Objectives

Before a large enterprise jumps into XR technology, it would be wise to re-examine its exact goals. What challenges is the organization already facing in reaching them? How do those challenges align to the capabilities of XR devices? On the other hand, what are the opportunities that XR could unlock that were not already considered?

Some goals are more aligned with the current capabilities of XR, while others may not be. Discovering this difference is a highly recommended first step.

For example, if an organization’s primary goal is profitability, it could consider using XR as an internal tool to cut the costs of expensive and dangerous employee training and simultaneously as a sales tool for account executives to showcase and demo sophisticated products to enterprise customers.

Prioritizing Use Cases for XR Implementation

Now that XR’s benefits, capabilities, and value have been defined, how does an organization decide which use cases make the most business sense? The possibilities can seem endless. 

There are multiple factors to consider when making that decision. Below is a list for organizations to consider when defining and prioritizing use cases.

FactorsDescription
ImpactWhat is the perceived impact on key KPI’s, goals and or objectives?
TimeHow long will it take for the organization to realize the impact?
UsabilityWho are the targeted users? Are they digital natives or immigrants? Consider how much training is required to have them experience the value.
ContentWhat kind of content is required for this use case? Is it already available in the marketplace or will it require custom work.
ROIHow much will it cost to roll the use case out? Which use case would have the highest ROI?
Feasibility What is the technology readiness of this use case?
IT compatibi-lityWhat systems does your organization already use? Consider how compatible your use case is with the systems already in place
Security/ RiskIf the XR system or project failed, what would be the scale of negative impact on the organization?

It is recommended that management score, filter, and rank their use cases across these criteria. This list of factors is not exhaustive and does not take into account the relative importance for each organization.

XR Implementation Planning


Developing a Comprehensive XR Roadmap

With clearly prioritized use cases, executives have the core elements needed to put together a comprehensive XR roadmap.  XR technologies are advancing quickly,  3-4 years is the recommended time frame to consider for a roadmap. 

Each use case should include elements such as – 

  • Timeline 
  • Objectives 
  • Key functionality or jobs to be done by the user 
  • Required resources
  • Teams & responsibilities 
  • Form of XR 

Example Fortune 500 Healthcare XR Roadmap29

Consider the example above of an XR roadmap for a hypothetical fortune 500 healthcare organization.

Resource Allocation and Budgeting for XR Initiatives

When it comes to budgeting and allocation for XR projects within a long 3-5 year roadmap, there are several aspects that executive leaders should consider. Some of these aspects will need to be adjusted while evaluating and defining the technologies that are required to enable the roadmap (Section 7).

Resource Allocation: 

Determine the necessary resources for each XR project, encompassing funding, personnel, equipment, and technology infrastructure. Allocate resources based on factors such as project complexity, expected timeline, and criticality. 

By carefully assessing resource needs, leaders can ensure that the right people, tools, and technologies are allocated to each project effectively. 

Financial Planning: 

Develop a comprehensive financial plan that spans the entire duration of the roadmap. Take into account upfront costs for XR hardware and software, ongoing maintenance and support expenses, training and education programs, as well as potential future upgrades or expansions. 

By considering the financial implications of each project, leaders can make informed decisions about budget allocation and ensure the availability of necessary funds. 

ROI Evaluation: 

Conduct a thorough analysis of the return on investment (ROI) for each XR use case. Evaluate the projected benefits, including potential cost savings, revenue generation, improved productivity, and enhanced customer satisfaction. Compare the anticipated ROI against the associated costs to prioritize investments effectively. 

By following these guidelines, leaders can approach budgeting and resource allocation for XR projects in a more cohesive and strategic manner. This enables effective planning, maximizes the potential benefits of XR technology, and aligns the organization’s financial resources with its long-term objectives.

Identifying & Mitigating Risks

Every new technology project comes with its own unique set of risks. When developing a comprehensive XR roadmap, executives should keep the following common risks in mind and consider the mitigation strategies.

Risk categoryDescriptionMitigation
TechnologyRapid technological advancements may render XR solutions outdatedStay updated on emerging technologies and industry trends. Invest in flexible and scalable XR platforms. Conduct regular technology assessments and consider pilot projects before large-scale implementation
IntegrationIntegrating XR systems with existing infrastructure and legacy systems may be complexConduct thorough compatibility assessments and engage with experienced integration specialists. Collaborate closely with IT teams and technology vendors to ensure seamless integration. Implement effective change management strategies to facilitate smooth transitions
User AdoptionEmployees may resist or struggle with adopting XR technology due to unfamiliarity or lack of trainingDevelop comprehensive training programs to familiarize employees with XR technology. Involve employees early on and address their concerns. Offer ongoing support and resources to promote user adoption. Conduct user acceptance testing and gather feedback to refine the user experience
Security & PrivacyXR applications may involve the collection and processing of sensitive data, increasing the risk of security breaches or privacy violationsImplement robust security measures, including data encryption, access controls, and regular security audits. Comply with relevant data protection regulations and industry standards. Conduct privacy impact assessments and ensure data anonymization where necessary
Budget & CostXR projects may experience cost overruns or exceed allocated budgetsConduct detailed cost estimations and ongoing financial monitoring. Include contingency funds in the budget. Prioritize projects based on their potential ROI and strategic value. Implement effective project management practices to control costs and track expenses closely
Legal & ComplianceXR initiatives may be subject to legal and regulatory requirements, such as intellectual property rights or health and safety regulationsEngage legal experts to navigate relevant legal and compliance considerations. Stay updated on applicable laws and regulations. Obtain necessary licenses and permissions. Conduct regular audits to ensure ongoing compliance
Ethical & SocialXR technology may raise ethical concerns, such as privacy invasion, social isolation, or bias in algorithmsEstablish ethical guidelines and frameworks for XR implementation. Prioritize user privacy and well-being. Conduct regular assessments of ethical implications. Engage in transparency and public dialogue to address societal concerns

By addressing these common risks and implementing appropriate mitigation strategies, a Fortune 500 company can minimize potential roadblocks, ensure successful XR roadmap implementation, and maximize the benefits of XR technology across their organization.

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