AI’s Role in Enhancing Augmented Reality Experiences – with Sven Brunner

Experience the future of work as we unfold the transformative powers of augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) with Sven Brunner, the visionary co-founder and CEO of Sphere. 

This episode is a journey through the inception of a company at the forefront of enterprise communication, where Sven recounts the spark ignited by Microsoft's HoloLens and Sphere's ambitious mission. We untangle the complex web of AR, VR, XR, and MR, demystifying these acronyms and the impact they have on our professional collaboration and workflow. Let Sven guide you through understanding how the metaverse isn't just a buzzword but a burgeoning reality poised to redefine our digital interactions.

Prepare to be captivated by stories of AR and VR already in action, reshaping industries with their collaborative prowess. We examine how cutting-edge devices like the ElvishPro and MetaCorrect 3 merge digital and physical realms to streamline processes from automotive design to pharmaceutical training. Delve into a poignant case where AR technology leaps from utility to life-saving tool in emergency situations, underscoring the profound positive implications these innovations can have in real-world applications. This episode is not just about the technology itself, but the remarkable ways it enhances human capability and efficiency in critical scenarios.

As our conversation with Sven comes to a close, we express our gratitude for his insights into the future of immersive technology. To further fuel your curiosity, detailed show notes and an article filled with all the pertinent links and case studies discussed are at your fingertips, courtesy of Sven's team. Whether you're a tech enthusiast, an industry professional, or simply curious about the future of work, this episode is a must-listen. Be sure to subscribe and share this enlightening discussion, and join us again as we continue to spotlight the interplay of technology with our everyday existence.

Revolutionizing Reality: The Fusion of AI and AR

Imagine stepping into a world where your digital and physical realities merge seamlessly, enhancing how you work, learn, and interact. This is no longer the stuff of science fiction, thanks to the groundbreaking integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR).

In simple terms, we're talking about combining the smart, learning capabilities of AI with AR's ability to overlay digital information onto the real world. This blend is transforming industries, from automotive design and pharmaceutical training to healthcare and beyond, making complex processes simpler, more intuitive, and efficient. It's not just about seeing digital objects in our world; it's about these objects understanding and interacting with their environment in real-time, thanks to AI.

The impact of this fusion on our daily lives and work is profound, offering innovative solutions to age-old problems and opening up new avenues for collaboration, learning, and creativity.

Curious about how AI and AR are coming together to change the game? Keep reading, as we'll be diving deep into the specifics, showcasing real-life applications, and exploring the future possibilities of these technologies.

The Intersection of AI and Augmented Reality

The Emergence of Augmented Reality in the Enterprise

Augmented Reality (AR) has been making significant strides, particularly within the enterprise sector. The inception of AR into the mainstream can be traced back to pivotal moments such as the release of Microsoft's HoloLens. This device, heralded as the first true spatial computing device, was capable of mapping the user's physical surroundings and allowing developers to anchor digital content to the real world. Such advancements have not only captivated the imagination of technology enthusiasts but also signaled a new era of communication and collaboration in the enterprise. The appeal of AR in this domain is its natural fit for enhancing business processes, facilitating more immersive and effective collaboration, and revolutionizing the way companies operate.

The Role of AI in Enhancing Augmented Reality Experiences

While AR has been evolving, the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a game-changer, propelling the technology to new heights. AI's role in AR is multifaceted, ranging from improving the accuracy of spatial computations to enabling more intuitive interactions between the digital and physical worlds. This synergy between AI and AR technologies has opened up new possibilities for creating more immersive and personalized experiences. For instance, AI algorithms can analyze the environment in real-time, allowing AR systems to place digital objects in the physical world in a way that feels seamless and natural. This integration is not just about enhancing the user experience but also about pushing the boundaries of what's possible with AR, making it a more powerful tool for businesses and developers alike.

The Evolution of AI and AR Technologies

The evolution of AI and AR technologies has been rapid and transformative. Initially, AR's capabilities were somewhat limited, focusing mainly on overlaying simple digital content onto the physical world. However, as AI technologies have advanced, so too have the capabilities of AR. Today, we're seeing AR applications that can understand and interact with the environment in complex ways, thanks to AI. This includes recognizing objects, understanding spatial relationships, and even predicting user intentions. The progress in AI research, particularly in machine learning and computer vision, has been instrumental in this evolution, enabling AR systems to become more intelligent and context-aware.

The Importance of Integrating AI into Other Technologies for Practical Use

The integration of AI into AR and other technologies underscores a broader trend: the necessity of embedding AI into various domains to unlock its full potential. AI, on its own, holds immense capabilities, but its true value is realized when applied to enhance other technologies or solve specific problems. This approach is evident in how AI has been leveraged to improve AR experiences, making them more interactive, efficient, and applicable to real-world scenarios. Whether it's in healthcare, automotive, or entertainment, the combination of AI with AR and other technologies is not just about innovation for its own sake but about creating practical solutions that address real needs and challenges. As we continue to witness the convergence of these technologies, it's clear that the future will be shaped by our ability to integrate AI in meaningful and impactful ways.

Sven Brunner on the Web3 CMO Stories podcast

Sven Brunner 

Understanding the Terminology: AR, VR, XR, and Metaverse

The distinction between virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is foundational to understanding the broader spectrum of immersive technologies. Virtual Reality (VR) immerses users completely in a digital environment, effectively isolating them from the physical world. This technology, often associated with gaming and entertainment, utilizes headsets to create a fully virtual experience. On the other hand, Augmented Reality (AR) overlays digital information onto the real world, allowing users to see and interact with holograms or digital content as if they were part of their physical surroundings. This blend of digital and physical realities opens up innovative ways for users to interact with their environment, making AR particularly appealing for applications in education, design, and retail.

The introduction of mixed reality (MR) and extended reality (XR) further complicates the terminology. Mixed Reality (MR) initially suffered from a lack of clear definition, with some using it interchangeably with AR, while others saw it as a distinct category that blends the physical and digital worlds more seamlessly. Microsoft, for instance, used MR to describe both AR and VR technologies, adding to the confusion. Extended Reality (XR) emerged as an umbrella term encompassing VR, AR, and MR, aiming to simplify discussions around these technologies. XR represents the full spectrum of real and virtual environments, highlighting the industry's move towards creating more immersive and interactive experiences.

The concept of spatial computing is closely related to AR and MR, emphasizing the technology's ability to understand and interact with the physical space around the user. Spatial computing devices, like the HoloLens, can map the environment, recognize objects, and place digital content in the real world in a contextually relevant manner. This capability distinguishes spatial computing from simpler AR applications, which might overlay digital information without any real understanding of the environment. The term "spatial computing" is gaining traction, especially with companies like Apple adopting it, reflecting the industry's focus on creating more intuitive and natural interactions between users, digital content, and the physical world.

The varying interpretations of the Metaverse highlight the evolving nature of digital spaces and their role in our lives. Some envision the Metaverse as a fully immersive digital world, separate from our physical reality, where users can live, work, and play. This concept, popularized by companies like Meta (formerly Facebook), suggests a virtual space that exists parallel to the real world. Others see the Metaverse as an extension of our current reality, where physical and digital elements are intertwined, enabling new forms of interaction, collaboration, and socialization. This interpretation aligns more closely with the idea of an industrial or business Metaverse, where digital twins and virtual assets play a significant role in enhancing real-world processes. Despite these differing views, the common thread is the recognition of the Metaverse as a significant step forward in how we connect with technology and each other, blurring the lines between the physical and digital realms.

The Application of AR and AI in Business

The concept of spatial collaboration in business is revolutionizing the way companies operate and interact. Imagine stepping into a shared virtual space where you can collaborate with colleagues in real-time, regardless of physical distance. This is now possible through spatial collaboration solutions that blend augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI). These technologies enable participants, whether they are in the same room or across the globe, to see and interact with the same digital content within their physical environment. This approach not only enhances collaboration but also bridges the gap between remote and in-person team members, creating a more inclusive and efficient workplace. The use of sophisticated avatar systems further enriches this experience by replicating lifelike movements and expressions, making remote participants feel as though they are physically present in the room.

The use of AR and AI in the automotive industry for design review showcases the practical benefits of these technologies. In the automotive sector, the development of a new car model is a complex and iterative process that traditionally relied on physical prototypes to visualize design changes. However, with AR and AI, companies can now overlay digital models onto existing physical components or even create a fully virtual prototype. This allows for rapid iteration and evaluation of design concepts without the need for costly and time-consuming physical prototypes. Teams can collaboratively review and modify designs in real-time, speeding up the decision-making process and reducing development costs. This application of AR and AI not only streamlines the design review process but also fosters a more creative and collaborative environment for innovation.

The application of AR and AI in the pharmaceutical industry for training is transforming how employees learn and perform their duties. Complex procedures, such as machine maintenance or drug production processes, can be daunting for new employees. Through AR and AI, trainers can guide trainees through these procedures step-by-step, overlaying digital instructions and animations onto the physical machinery. This method of training not only enhances understanding and retention but also allows for a hands-on learning experience without the risk of costly mistakes. By providing a more interactive and engaging training environment, pharmaceutical companies can ensure their employees are well-prepared and confident in their roles, ultimately improving productivity and safety in the workplace.

The use of AR and AI in healthcare to combat child violence is a poignant example of how technology can have a profound impact on society. In situations where child abuse is suspected, the ability to quickly and accurately assess the child's condition is critical. AR and AI enable specialists to remotely examine patients through the eyes of a local doctor, reducing the need for traumatic transfers and expediting the decision-making process. This application not only streamlines the assessment process but also demonstrates the potential of AR and AI to improve patient care and outcomes in sensitive situations. It's a powerful reminder of the positive impact that technology can have on people's lives, offering hope and support to those in vulnerable positions.

The Future of AI and AR in Enhancing Lives

The potential of AI and AR in improving livelihoods is immense and multifaceted. As we've seen through various applications in industries such as automotive, pharmaceutical, and healthcare, these technologies hold the key to transforming not just how businesses operate but also how they impact individuals' lives. The integration of AI and AR into our daily routines and professional practices promises to elevate our quality of life by making complex processes more accessible, understandable, and efficient. Imagine a future where education is enhanced through immersive learning experiences, where medical training and diagnostics achieve unprecedented levels of precision, and where design and creativity are liberated from the constraints of physical materials and spaces. This future is not only possible; it is being built today through the innovative application of AI and AR technologies.

The role of technology in enhancing people's lives goes beyond convenience and efficiency. It extends into creating deeper connections, understanding, and empathy among individuals. By enabling people to interact with digital content in their physical environment, AR brings a new dimension to our perception of the world around us. Coupled with AI's ability to analyze and respond to data in real-time, these technologies can tailor experiences to individual needs and preferences, making everyday tasks more intuitive and engaging. Furthermore, the ability to collaborate in virtual spaces breaks down geographical barriers, fostering global cooperation and creativity. This democratization of access and interaction is a powerful force for inclusivity and diversity, enriching our social and professional lives.

The importance of AI and AR in creating positive impacts is evident in their ability to address some of the most pressing challenges facing society today. From combating child violence in healthcare to revolutionizing training and development in high-stakes industries, the applications of AI and AR showcase their potential to not only improve but also save lives. These technologies offer innovative solutions to age-old problems, providing tools that enhance our ability to understand, communicate, and act. As we continue to develop and integrate AI and AR into various sectors, it is vital to focus on their potential for positive impact, ensuring that technological advancement serves humanity's best interests.

The challenges and opportunities in the application of AI and AR in various sectors are as diverse as the technologies themselves. While the potential benefits are clear, realizing them requires overcoming significant hurdles. Technical challenges, such as improving the accuracy and reliability of AI algorithms and ensuring the seamless integration of AR into our physical environments, are just the beginning. Ethical considerations, including privacy concerns and the potential for misuse, must also be addressed. Moreover, there is the challenge of accessibility, ensuring that these technologies can benefit everyone, not just those with the means to afford them. Despite these challenges, the opportunities presented by AI and AR are unparalleled. By fostering collaboration between technologists, policymakers, and communities, we can harness these technologies to create a future where innovation and compassion go hand in hand, enhancing lives across the globe.

The Importance of Headsets in Immersive Experiences

The necessity of headsets for immersive applications is undeniable. To truly step into the world of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), headsets are indispensable. They serve as the gateway to experiences that transcend the ordinary, offering a depth of interaction and immersion that traditional platforms like smartphones and PCs can't match. Imagine being able to walk through a virtual reconstruction of ancient Rome, feeling as though you're truly there, or collaborating with colleagues in a digital workspace that defies the limits of physical geography. These experiences hinge on the unique capabilities of headsets to blend the digital and physical worlds in a seamless and intuitive manner.

Despite the central role of headsets in delivering these transformative experiences, the approach to their implementation is remarkably inclusive. The technology is designed to be cross-platform and device-agnostic, ensuring that the solution is accessible across all major headsets. This inclusivity means that whether users have the latest Apple Vision Pro, MetaQuest three, or devices from Lenovo, Microsoft HoloLens, or Magic Leap, they can all partake in the immersive experiences offered. This broad compatibility is essential in a market characterized by rapid change and innovation, where new devices continually emerge, and the technological ecosystem evolves.

However, embracing such a wide array of devices is not without its challenges. From an engineering perspective, ensuring seamless functionality across different headsets is a daunting task. Each device comes with its own set of specifications, capabilities, and limitations. Some might excel in lightweight design but fall short in sensor accuracy, while others might offer top-tier sensors at the expense of affordability and comfort. This diversity necessitates a flexible and adaptable solution that can cater to the varied needs and preferences of users. It's a testament to the commitment to accessibility and user satisfaction, ensuring that no one is left behind in the shift towards immersive digital experiences.

The different strengths and weaknesses of various devices further underscore the importance of a tailored approach to immersive technology. For instance, field technicians might prioritize portability and ease of use over high-end specifications, opting for lighter devices that, while not as powerful, are sufficient for their needs. On the other hand, scenarios requiring high precision, such as design reviews, might necessitate the use of more advanced, albeit heavier, headsets. This ability to mix and match devices based on specific use cases ensures that the technology can adapt to a wide range of applications and environments. It highlights the versatility and user-centric design of immersive solutions, making them applicable and beneficial across different sectors and disciplines.

Ultimately, the goal is to provide an exceptional immersive experience that is both accessible and adaptable. While the ideal experience is often found through the use of headsets, the technology's design philosophy ensures that no one is excluded. Even those using smartphones or PCs can participate in immersive experiences, albeit in a more limited capacity. This inclusivity is vital in fostering collaboration and communication within diverse groups and settings. As the industry continues to evolve, with more people expected to adopt headsets in the coming years, the foundation laid by current technologies will play a critical role in shaping the future of immersive digital experiences.

The Evolution of Perception Towards AR and XR

The perception of augmented reality (AR) and extended reality (XR) has undergone a significant transformation over the years. Initially, these technologies were often viewed as gimmicky or niche, more aligned with science fiction than practical application. Many people's first thought was that AR and XR were primarily for gaming, failing to see the broader potential applications in business, education, healthcare, and more. This skepticism wasn't unfounded, as the early days of AR and XR were marked by limitations in technology and a lack of compelling use cases that could drive widespread adoption.

However, the global pandemic served as a catalyst for change, altering perceptions dramatically. As the world grappled with lockdowns, travel restrictions, and the shift to remote work, the limitations of existing digital collaboration tools became glaringly apparent. It was during this time that the potential of AR and XR to bridge the gap between physical distance and digital interaction came into sharp focus. Businesses and individuals alike began to seek out innovative ways to connect, collaborate, and continue operations amidst unprecedented challenges. This shift in perspective was not just about finding temporary solutions but about reimagining the future of interaction, work, and play.

The changing perception was also reflected in the business world, where there was a noticeable increase in requests for proposals (RFPs) related to AR and XR technologies. Large corporations, recognizing the potential of these technologies to solve real-world problems, began actively seeking solutions that could integrate AR and XR into their operations. This surge in interest was a clear indicator of the market's maturing understanding and acceptance of AR and XR as valuable tools for innovation and efficiency.

The successful acquisition of large customers such as Pfizer, Airbus, Volkswagen, and Micron further illustrates the shifting perception towards AR and XR. These companies, leaders in their respective fields, have recognized the transformative potential of immersive technologies. By incorporating AR and XR into their operations, they are not only enhancing their productivity and operational efficiency but also setting a precedent for others in their industries. The ability to attract such prestigious clients speaks volumes about the growing credibility and relevance of AR and XR solutions in addressing complex business challenges.

In conclusion, the evolution of perception towards AR and XR from gimmicky novelties to essential business tools is a testament to the rapid advancements in technology and the creative application of these solutions. As more companies witness the tangible benefits brought about by AR and XR, the adoption of these technologies is set to accelerate, paving the way for a future where immersive experiences are an integral part of everyday life.

The Role of Partnerships in Market Penetration

For small startups, especially those navigating the complex and rapidly evolving fields of augmented reality (AR) and extended reality (XR), forming strategic partnerships is not just beneficial—it's essential. These partnerships serve as a critical lifeline, providing the resources, credibility, and market access that can be otherwise hard to achieve when going it alone. In the competitive tech ecosystem, where innovation and speed to market are paramount, joining forces with established players can significantly amplify a startup's impact.

The benefits of partnering with large players in the space are manifold. First and foremost, these collaborations bring about an invaluable exchange of technology and expertise. For a startup, access to cutting-edge technology, research, and development resources can dramatically accelerate product development cycles and enhance the quality of their offerings. Moreover, large partners often have extensive networks and customer bases, providing startups with a much-needed platform to showcase their solutions to a broader audience. This exposure is critical not only for gaining market traction but also for testing and refining products in real-world scenarios.

Beyond the practical advantages, the role of partnerships in gaining credibility is perhaps even more critical. For startups, especially those in high-tech industries, establishing trust with potential customers and stakeholders can be a daunting challenge. Collaborating with well-known and respected industry players can lend an air of legitimacy and reliability to a startup's brand, making it easier to overcome skepticism and build confidence among prospective clients. This credibility is invaluable when pitching complex and innovative solutions that require significant investment and buy-in from customers.

The success of this partnership strategy over the past few years speaks volumes. By aligning with giants such as Amazon AWS, Magic Leap, Qualcomm, and Lenovo, startups have not only managed to secure a foothold in the market but have also played a pivotal role in driving the adoption of AR and XR technologies across various industries. These collaborations have opened doors to opportunities that would have been inaccessible otherwise, from securing meetings with top-tier clients to participating in joint ventures and co-development projects. The synergy between startups and their larger partners has proven to be a powerful force in pushing the boundaries of what's possible with AR and XR technologies.

In essence, the strategic choice to pursue partnerships has been a game-changer for many startups in the AR and XR space. It has enabled them to leverage the strengths and resources of their partners, overcome common hurdles associated with market entry and credibility, and accelerate their growth trajectory. As the industry continues to evolve, these collaborative efforts will undoubtedly play a critical role in shaping the future of immersive technologies and their application across various sectors.

The Real-Life Applications of AR and XR

In the rapidly evolving world of augmented reality (AR) and extended reality (XR), the ability to demonstrate real-life applications of the technology is not just a competitive edge—it's a necessity. This goes beyond merely showcasing the potential of AR and XR; it involves providing tangible, practical examples of how these technologies can be integrated into daily operations, enhancing productivity, creativity, and efficiency. The significance of this lies in moving the conversation from what could be done theoretically to what is being achieved practically, thereby solidifying the value proposition of AR and XR in various industries.

However, a significant challenge that many companies face in this space is transcending the so-called "PoC hell." This term refers to the cycle of creating endless proofs of concept without ever progressing to full-scale deployment or production. This phase can be particularly frustrating as it often showcases the technology's capabilities without realizing its full potential or achieving meaningful adoption. The transition from PoC to productive use is a critical step that requires not only technological prowess but also a deep understanding of the market and the specific needs of end-users.

Witnessing the technology being used productively in real-world scenarios brings a profound sense of satisfaction. It validates the hard work and innovation behind AR and XR solutions, proving that these technologies can go beyond novelty and become essential tools in various fields. Whether it's enhancing the way field technicians perform repairs with the help of AR-guided instructions or transforming design reviews with immersive XR environments, the practical application of these technologies is a testament to their value and versatility.

The importance of showcasing real-life applications extends beyond user satisfaction; it plays a pivotal role in gaining credibility and forging strong partnerships. When companies can demonstrate that their AR and XR solutions are not just theoretical but are being used to solve real problems and improve business outcomes, they establish themselves as leaders in the field. This credibility is invaluable in attracting partners, investors, and customers who are looking for proven solutions rather than speculative technology. Furthermore, by highlighting successful case studies and real-world applications, companies can inspire confidence in their technology, paving the way for broader adoption and innovation in the industry.

In conclusion, the focus on real-life applications of AR and XR technology is essential for moving beyond the initial excitement and towards meaningful, productive use. By demonstrating the tangible benefits and practical applications of these technologies, companies can overcome skepticism, build credibility, and foster partnerships that drive the industry forward. As AR and XR continue to evolve, the emphasis on real-world applications will undoubtedly remain a cornerstone of success in this dynamic and promising field.

Wrapping It Up

As we've navigated through the intricate relationship between AI and AR, it's clear that the fusion of these technologies is not just reshaping industries but also enhancing our daily lives in profound ways. From revolutionizing business operations and fostering global collaboration to pushing the boundaries of creativity and innovation, the potential of AI and AR working in tandem is immense.

  • The integration of AI with AR is creating more immersive, efficient, and personalized experiences across various sectors, including healthcare, automotive, and education.

  • Real-world applications of AR and AI are demonstrating their potential to not only improve business outcomes but also address significant societal challenges.

  • The evolution of immersive technologies like AR and XR is moving from niche applications to becoming essential tools for business and creativity, signaling a shift in perception towards their practical value.

Yet, as we embrace these advancements, one must ponder: How will we tackle the ethical and accessibility challenges that accompany such rapid technological progress? Until we meet again, let's ponder on this thought.

Sven Brunner on the Web3 CMO Stories podcast

Sven Brunner on the Web3 CMO Stories podcast


[00:55] What's the inspiration behind integrating AI with augmented reality in Sphere? 

[03:28] Are AR, VR, and XR the same? What sets them apart, and how do they contribute to the story of Sphere? 

[06:25] How does the Metaverse differ from Virtual Reality? 

[09:52] How can a business utilize VR for clients and internal operations? 

[16:15] Do you need a headset for a dynamic experience in the Metaverse, or are there other options? 

[20:31] Do businesses understand VR and spatial computing, or do they need it explained? How does marketing help people become aware of these technologies? 



It was like that was the moment. I have to do something with this technology.” 

AI is, for me at least, a very foundational technology, right? Similar to, let's say, the Internet.” 

“It's not a good thing that these things exist, but it's nice that we can help.” 

“We wanted to partner with some of the largest player in the space, and I think we achieved that.” 

“Our solution actually used productively, right. People use it on a daily basis for their actual work.” 



Sphere Website: 





About the author, JoeriBillast

Fractional CMO
Web3 Marketing Strategist
Bestselling Author on Amazon
Host of the Web3 CMO Stories podcast