Last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook delivered the keynote address during Apple’s first virtual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC). In typical fashion, he shared anticipated new technology with innovations ranging from new operating systems and security tools to new homescreens, widgets and a new built-in translation application.
One particularly intriguing item is a new capability of Apple’s AirPod Pro wireless ear buds. Cook announced that this product will offer “Spatial Audio” allowing listeners to not only hear sounds from behind, in front or above, but also sounds that shift as the listener’s head moves. That means an off-camera speech will be “heard” off camera, but as you turn to look at the speaker, the sound will re-center itself within your own spacial universe.
Cool, right? But there is so much more behind the cool...
Apple has accomplished this innovation via tiny gyroscopes that measure and deliver spatial orientation data as your head moves. Once new software is written and developer access granted, your earpods will become a new input device, harnessing head position and movements to direct all types of software and wearable technology.
In simple terms, a nod could simply answer yes or no … a turn of your head could scroll through news or social content … or, someday, when combined with emerging AI and robust virtual reality, it will help you drive a car without your hands or perform surgery without touching a patient.
This is the next step in releasing humans from the tethers of traditional hardware, integrating our bodies and our movements into new real and virtual experiences. For communicators, this ensures there will be new ways of interacting and sharing information. Today’s endless bombardment of information will soon become a more immersive experience employing communications tools that deliver and interact with more of our senses.
Certainly, spatial technology will revolutionize the way we tell stories, place audiences in other people's shoes and will deliver content in ways we never imagined — ways that are certainly a critical focus at Apple and other technology innovators. Look around, it’s coming fast!