What Vision Pro Means For the Future Of Digital Identity

What Vision Pro Means For the Future Of Digital Identity

Apr 29, 2024

Vision Pro is here, and it boasts a very compelling avatar system: Apple has enabled your loved ones to share your physical space with you despite obstacles such as distance, cost, and mobility. This utility is not limited to spatial video chat; use-cases involving shared activities across spatial entertainment are also beginning to emerge.

These Vision Pro avatars, called Personas, only consist of a head and two hands at the time of this post. But when you see your loved one sitting next to you out of the corner of your eye, with their real-time authentic voice, their usual hand gestures, and approximately accurate facial features, the uncanny nature of humans replicated in a digital medium tends to slip away, and we are left with a powerfully heartwarming sense of presence.

Why are we looking at our digital loved ones from the corner of our eye you might ask? Because among these early use-cases for spatialized avatars is the time honored tradition of Movie Night: Users can place a screen in a shared space that is simultaneously abstract and tethered to reality, and watch a show together.

The space is abstract because there are reality-based world positions to respect– it may be on the West wall for one user in Los Angeles, and the South wall for another in Tokyo. But it’s in front of both users, and the users are positioned relatively with respect to each other: one on the left, and one on the right. This function is currently available for up to five simultaneous users.

Spatialized Persona avatars and their emerging use-cases are a milestone in the history of XR. We have not seen a mixed reality offering quite like this: Many AR apps, like Spatial.io, have been working in the real-time photorealistic multiplayer avatar space. Many VR apps, like Bigscreen, have long ago conquered this sense of presence and intimacy. But with the latest sensor offerings from VisionOS to improve avatar animation combined with a top of the line immersive XR headset, Apple’s Personas may finally appeal to mainstream consumers.

But what’s interesting, is that Apple has explicitly forgone their robust stylized avatar ecosystem (Memoji) in favor of these much more technically challenging photoreal Personas!

Their decision to do so makes sense. The digital replication of friends and loved ones will hook users by the heart strings, which is a powerful financial motivator. But at the same time, what an interesting door to leave open for the myriad stylized avatar companies in the space to address the power vacuum left by Apple’s simple and logical decision to ship Personas before Memoji. This prioritization or oversight on their part yields an incredible opportunity for increased visibility.

We have already seen some of the earliest lovable characters, like Waba, begin to permeate VisionOS. We have seen prototypes from stylized avatar corporations like ReadyPlayerMe and indie players like CloneX– but what’s thrilling is the idea that we will soon have a wonderland of spatially aware AI enhanced virtual beings and user-powered avatars flooding the space as Apple Vision Pro becomes a new standard for XR development.

At Genies, we are excited to usher in the flood: We are currently in the process of bringing our robust avatar ecosystem of user-powered avatars, lovable AI enhanced characters, and our first of its kind Traits system to the XR arena by releasing a suite of XR Tools. Our roadmap will drop modules, packages, and products throughout the year as we ramp up to a multiplayer asymmetrical experience across VisionOS and iOS alike.

If you are interested in discussing the future of XR with avatars at the center of digital identity, reach out to us at contact@genies.com. As a developer, for more information about our Tool Kit, we invite you to apply for access here.