The spatial computing creative brief

Apple has opened a new kitchen; what will we create in it?

Tim Brunelle
4 min readJun 6, 2023
You can see what Apple’s Vision Pro looks like in the context of your own space using their AR camera filter. Visit the Vision Pro site your smartphone.

Like many, I watched Apple’s WWDC event live.

That last sentence is both hilarious and fascinating. Yet, I can’t think of another brand who’s developer press conference I could stomach watching.

Takeaway #1: Apple knows how to invest in a kind of storytelling which makes UX, interface design, tech specs and strategy broadly compelling. The journey through operating systems, new hardware, and product refinements which led to the Vision Pro reveal was persuasive — give or take the few staged gimmicks. I believe the sequencing was critical. The Vision Pro made a lot more sense in the context of layers of Apple design continuity, and proven technical expertise.

Takeaway #2: Swinging for the fences was the only way to go. By using language like, “welcome to the era of spatial computing,” and “it’s the first Apple product you look through, and not at,” Apple gives itself and its community permission to see the product for what it can become, versus what it merely is at the moment.

Takeaway #3: It will take a village. Debuting a new way to think about computing in front of developers was necessary. Looking back, there were clues — earlier moments yesterday hammered home the stability, longevity, and interoperability of Apple’s approach to hardware and software. The only guest in the entire video aside from Disney’s CEO Bob Iger was a coder, speaking Japanese! The message was clear: We’ve opened a new kitchen, built on our proven approach…so who wants to cook up new things?

Now we need a new kind of creative brief

I’m thinking about the pivot from print and broadcast in the mid 1990s to include interactive ideas — and not long after, the pivot to include social and mobile. I remember writing job descriptions, coaching HR and Operations leaders (never mind creative leaders) to comprehend and enable new approaches to creativity, media and the expression of information.

  • We collectively invented and elevated the click
  • We collectively invented and elevated the Call To Action as an interaction
  • We collectively invented and elevated site navigation, keywords, and thumbnail images

We worked together — all of us — to write and learn a new language. We prototyped and failed, but learned and succeeded as a global community leveraging an entirely new way to communicate. We are more or less in a similar moment with “spatial computing.” (I would have loved being a fly on the wall during the “do we use the established term — augmented reality — or manifest our own?” debate inside Apple.)

Now we get to imagine how eye movement tracking, as one amazing example, might enable the audience’s ability to engage in our ideas. This single means of interaction is going to require an entire world of iconography, visual rules, education and training consensus. Eye movement as interaction mechanism is a world begging for novel ideas, and use cases upon which to build agreements. Who’s it for? What’s it for?

Then combine this facility with hand gestures. The gestures piece was the hidden star of the show in my opinion. I’ve got a Quest 2 gathering dust over in the corner, in no small part due to the device requiring my hands to engage with hardware. Unlocking gestures will be huge. Again, under what set of rules, codecs and agreements? The foundations of this new means of interaction will be written by those advancing new ideas. We tested so many weird ways of interacting with information in the early years of Flash, bouncing ideas off a global community of creatives. It’s important to remember there are no rules in this space and time, just potential…and responsibility.

What will you and I do with it?

We get to invent a whole new way to compute.

If you ever watch an avalanche, note how the instigating moment is rarely clear. Oh, once the snow has gathered momentum the avalanche is obvious. But what combination of pressure, gravity, humidity and gravity triggered the obvious? That’s the liminal space we’re in right now.

Time to get to work.

Thanks for the push, Apple.

[This piece was published first via my newsletter where I write about creativity. Click here if you want to subscribe.]



Tim Brunelle

I'm a creative enterprise leader, teacher, and entrepreneur living in Minneapolis.