Sterling Crispin 🕊️ Profile picture
Art + Code / Researcher @DelComplex / Partner @Helen_Crispin_ / prev 9+years in AR VR, Specs @Snap, Neurotechnology for VisionPro @Apple
Jun 12, 2023 6 tweets 15 min read
Vision Pro mega-thread 1/5:

My advice for designing and developing products for Vision Pro. This thread includes a basic overview of the platform, tools, porting apps, general product design, prototyping, perceptual design, business advice and more.

Disclaimer: I’m not an Apple representative. This is my personal opinion and does not contain non-public information.


Apps on visionOS are organized into “scenes”, which are Windows, Volumes, and Spaces.

Windows are a spatial version of what you’d see on a normal computer. They’re bounded rectangles of content that users surround themselves with. These may be windows from different apps or multiple windows from one app.

Volumes are things like 3D objects, or small interactive scenes. Like a 3D map, or small game that’s not immersive.

Spaces are fully immersive experiences where only one app is visible. That could be full of many Windows and Volumes from your app. Or like VR games where the system goes away and it's all custom content. You can think of visionOS itself like a Shared Space where apps coexist together and you have less control. Whereas Full Spaces give you the most control and immersiveness, but don’t coexist with other apps. Spaces have immersion styles: mixed, progressive, and full. Which defines how much or little of the real world you want the user to see.

User Input:

Users can look at the UI and pinch like the demo videos show. But you can also reach out and tap on windows directly, sort of like it’s actually a floating iPad. Or use a bluetooth trackpad or video game controller. You can also look and speak in search bars, but that’s disabled by default for some reason on existing iPad and iOS apps running on Vision Pro. There’s also a Dwell Control for eyes-only input, but that’s really an accessibility feature. For a simple dev approach, your app can just use events like a TapGesture. In this case, you won't need to worry about where these events originate from.

Spatial Audio:

Vision Pro has an advanced spatial audio system that makes sounds seem like they’re really in the room by considering the size and materials in your room. Using subtle sounds for UI interaction and taking advantage of sound design for immersive experiences is going to be really important. Make sure to take this topic seriously.


If you want to build something that works between Vision Pro, iPad, and iOS, you'll be operating within the Apple dev ecosystem, using tools like XCode and SwiftUI. However, if your goal is to create a fully immersive VR experience for Vision Pro that also works on other headsets like Meta's Quest or PlayStation VR, you have to use Unity.

Apple Tools:

For Apple’s ecosystem, you’ll use SwiftUI to create the UI the user sees and the overall content of your app. RealityKit is the 3D rendering engine that handles materials, 3D objects, and light simulations. You’ll use ARKit for advanced scene understanding. Like if you want someone to throw virtual darts and have them collide with their real wall, or do advanced things with hand tracking. But those rich AR features are only available in Full Spaces. There’s also Reality Composer Pro which is a 3D content editor that lets you drag things around a 3D scene and make media rich Spaces or Volumes. It’s like Diet-Unity that’s built specifically for this development stack.

One cool thing with Reality Composer is that it’s already full of assets, materials, and animations. That helps developers who aren’t artists build something quickly and should help to create a more unified look and feel to everything built with the tool. Pros and cons to that product decision, but overall it should be helpful.

Existing iOS Apps:

If you're bringing an iPad or iOS app over, it will probably work unmodified as a Window in the Shared Space. If your app supports both iPad and iPhone, it’ll look like the iPad version.

You can use the Ornament API to make little floating islands of UI in front of, or besides your app, to make it feel more spatial. But that’s not something all existing apps get automatically. Ironically, if your app is using a lot of ARKit features, you’ll likely need to ‘reimagine’ it significantly as ARKit has been upgraded a lot.

If you’re excited about building something new for Vision Pro, my personal opinion is that you should prioritize how your app will provide value across iPad and iOS too. Otherwise you're losing out on hundreds of millions of users.


You can build to Vision Pro with the Unity game engine, which is a massive topic. Again, you need to use Unity if you’re building to Vision Pro as well as a Meta headset like the Quest or PSVR.

Unity supports building Bounded Volumes for the Shared Space which exist alongside native Vision Pro content. And Unbounded Volumes, for immersive content that may leverage advanced AR features. Finally you can also build more VR-like apps which give you more control over rendering but seem to lack support for AR Kit scene understanding like plane detection. The Volume approach gives RealityKit more control over rendering, so you have to use Unity’s PolySpatial tool to convert materials, shaders, and other features.

Unity support for Vision Pro allows for tons of interactions you’d expect to see in VR, like teleporting to a new location or picking up and throwing virtual objects.Image Vision Pro mega-thread part 2/5, Product Design:

Build a Foundation:

You could just make an iPad-like app that shows up as a floating window, use the default interactions, and call it a day. But like I said above, content can exist in a wide spectrum of immersion, locations, and use a wide range of inputs. So the combinatorial range of possibilities can be overwhelming.

If you haven’t spent 100 hours in VR, get a Quest 2 or 3 as soon as possible and try everything. It doesn’t matter if you’re a designer, or product manager, or a CEO, you need to get a Quest and spend 100 hours in VR.

I highly recommend checking out Hand Physics Lab for a broad overview of direct interaction demos. There’s a lot of subtle things they do which imbue virtual objects with a sense of physicality. And the Youtube VR app that was released in 2019 looks and feels pretty similar to visionOS, it’s worth checking out.

Keep a diary of what works and what doesn’t.

Ask yourself: What app designs are comfortable, or cause fatigue? What apps have the fastest “time-to-fun/value”? What’s confusing and what’s intuitive? What experiences would you even bother doing more than once? Be brutally honest. Learn from what’s been tried as much as possible.

General Design Advice:

I strongly recommend the @ideo style design thinking process, it works for spatial computing too. You should absolutely try it out if you’re unfamiliar. There’s with resources and this video from 1999 is a great example of the process .

The road to spatial computing is a graveyard of utopian ideas that failed. People tend to spend a very long time building grand solutions for the imaginary problems of imaginary users. It sounds obvious, but instead you should try to build something as fast as possible that fills a real human need, and then iteratively improve from there.

Spatial Formats and Interaction:

You should expect people to be ‘lazy’ and want to avoid moving most of the time. Generally in spatial computing the more calories people burn using your app the less they’ll use it. I’m not saying you shouldn’t build your VR boxing game. But you should minimize the required motion as much as possible, even if it’s a fundamental part of what your app is.

To that point, the purpose of your app should be reflected in its spatial arrangements and interaction pattern. Aka, form follows function.

So if you’re making a virtual piano app, you probably want to anchor it on a desk so people make contact with a physical surface when they touch a key.

There’s a saying like, “when you want to say something new, use a familiar language.” IIf every aspect of your app is totally innovative it will likely be incomprehensible to users. So pick and choose your battles and make sure there’s a familiarity in the UI and experience.


I highly recommend paper and cardboard prototyping. Don’t start in Figma. Literally get some heavy weight paper or cardboard and make crude models of your interface. If you’re expecting users to directly touch your UI, pay attention to how much muscle strain in your shoulder the design creates. Use masking tape against a wall and sticky notes to mock up some UI. Then take a few steps back from it, pretend you’re in VR, and feel out how much head motion your layout requires.

Again I think everyone needs a Quest to try existing apps. And as prototyping tools they can be great, even before writing any code. There’s an app called ShapesXR that lets you sketch out ideas in space, create storyboards, and supports real time collaboration with remote users. It can be a great tool during early development.

You also use the Quest to mockup “AR in VR” by creating a scene with a realistic virtual living room, and having other objects appear as if they’re AR. It’s not as good as a full passthrough setup, but it’s better than nothing. And the virtual living room is helpful if you’re sharing the demo with people in other locations.

If you have the budget you might want a Varjo XR-3. It’s the current Rolls Royce of VR and the closest thing to the Vision Pro on the market with high quality passthrough, high res displays, hand tracking, world mapping, etc. But they’re $6500 each and need a $2-3k PC to power them. If you’re a giant company with the budget and worried about getting access to a Vision Pro dev kit I would probably get at least one XR-3 setup.

Disclaimer: I’m not an Apple representative. This is my personal opinion and does not contain non-public
Mar 31, 2023 6 tweets 4 min read
Quick analysis and insights of The Algorithm provided by @TwitterEng

UserMass .scala
- if you follow over 500, and your following to follower ratio is above .6 , you'll get punished and seen less. So if you follow 800 people and have 1000 followers, unfollow 200 people
👎 @TwitterEng HomeTweetTypePredicates .scala
- There's a whole section that tags tweets by Elon, "Power users" , Democrats and Republicans differently. This is used by the ClientEventsBuilder and other parts of the rec algorithm

These biases suck
Dec 22, 2022 13 tweets 5 min read
Imagine an AI model that's 3x larger and more powerful than GPT3 aka ChatGPT

Google already built that in April, called PaLM, on their own TPU hardware competing with NVIDIA. People think ChatGPT will replace Google but they basically invented transformers in '17 (the T in GPT) Google's been using a transformer model called BERT billions of times a day for years, it powers their search, email, and probably lots more, but it's invisible to users

Google Assistant will suddenly outperform ChatGPT one day when Google flips the switch for a system like PaLM
Dec 21, 2022 8 tweets 7 min read
If you're in the market for sculpture about the singularity and the apocalypse, I re-listed work from my 2020 solo show in NYC, Future Tense…

These are digital provenance of physical artworks, my gallerist can ship the art to you, or keep it in storage ImageImage A003 (Third Nature) one of four CNC aluminum ikebana vases that are hard anodized. Ikebana is a way of bringing the spirits of nature into your home, that's both symbolic and spiritual. Here a third nature, technology as organism, is in a triad with humanity and nature. ImageImageImageImage
May 15, 2022 28 tweets 10 min read
If many planets support life, where are the aliens? Their theory: civilizations grow and either burnout due to population + energy demand, or they de-growth to sustainability

This research is 🔥 Im going to summarize it, other interrelated teleological narratives, and my art
1/ ImageImage I'll get back to this paper, but Ray Kurzweil has written at length about the exponential growth of civilization and computing, predicting by 2045 a $1000 computer will be as powerful as every human brain on the planet combined, an event he calls the Technological Singularity
2/ ImageImage
Aug 26, 2021 5 tweets 2 min read
Working in tech and avoiding companies that directly work with the military, and contribute to the industrial military complex, is difficult and sad.

If you’re making software for the DoD to train soldiers, you’re contributing to war and the loss of life, shooting sim or not Microsoft is making military versions of it’s Hololens,
Jun 8, 2021 24 tweets 19 min read
My first smart contract artwork is live:

'Ideas of Mountains'

A collection of 210 generative conceptual artworks. Each depicts a unique generative 3D landscape, with AI generated phrases,…

available on @opensea…
(ERC721, IPFS) Image @opensea The phrases on the images were created using OpenAI’s GPT3 neural network which makes new writing based on provided examples. My past artwork series ‘NFT Concepts’ were input to GPT3, which then generated thousands of phrases based on my ideas.… Image
Apr 23, 2021 5 tweets 1 min read
Seeing a lot of survivorship bias advice from artists in the NFT space like, if you want to succeed just:

- make art you love
- price your work like _
- stick to your own style

For every successful artist giving this advice there’s a thousand who did the same and didn’t succeed I’m not saying don’t give advice, or don’t seek advice. But understand that luck, timing, circumstance, being seen by the right people, are huge influencing factors out of your control. It can borderline on insulting to ignore this and act like a guru once you’ve made it
Apr 22, 2021 5 tweets 4 min read
I’m so thrilled with how this turned out, it’s called ‘Codex 1 - Horizon’ and is a printed circuit board I designed mounted in CNC milled aluminum. These are just casual unedited iPhone photos I took of it just now. I can’t believe this is a real object. Here’s a photo of the actual object and a rendering before it was fabricated. The aluminum and PCB are both reflective so they change color depending on their environment. Im thrilled because I feel like I’ve found a new medium, the object is precisely how I imagined it would be.
Apr 21, 2021 4 tweets 1 min read
One of the greatest artists I know once said, "You don't really begin to understand an artwork until you've looked it for at least an hour"

If you're an artist or collector who hasn't done this, I strongly recommend it. Pick an artwork and really sit with it for 60 minutes. I've seen art world people criticizing crypto native collectors for the work they're buying, but that reinforces elitism. Instead, I'd encourage anyone to learn to see art through literally practicing. Really deeply look at one artwork until you're exhausted, then push past that.
Apr 9, 2021 6 tweets 2 min read
I don’t mean this in a derogatory way, but I find it fascinating and bizarre that nobody talks about @muratpak ‘s integration of marketing itself into their work. I asked @Sothebys + @niftygateway clubhouse about this relationship to hype beast culture and marketing-as-medium, but perhaps my question wasn’t pointed enough. With artwork like #PakWasHere and Oracle (RT to win) it’s obvious that marketing is at least 50% of the equation. I think their work borrows more from Supreme and Daniel Arsham manufacturing demand, than from conceptual art.
Apr 4, 2018 39 tweets 22 min read
My #bostondynamics #spotmini is almost ready for it's machine learning boot camp , on the left…