Tech giant Apple has finally revealed its augmented reality headset called Apple Vision Pro at WWDC, which according to CEO Tim Cook, will seamlessly blend the real and digital world. “It’s the first Apple product you look through, and not at,” said Cook.
The XR device will sell for $3,499 and is set to launch early next year, starting in the US before expanding to other countries later that year. Users can control the headset with their voice, hands and eyes.
Apple Vision Pro Features
As a controller-free device, users can browse rows of app icons from the headset’s visionOS simply by looking at them. Users can also tap to select, flick to scroll, pinch to zoom or even give voice commands. The headset also comes with Bluetooth support including Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad, allowing users to connect their Mac to use within the headset.
The Vision Pro has a laminated glass front as well as an aluminium frame with five sensors, 12 cameras, a 4K display for each eye and a dual-chip design with a cooling fan.
Both the mask and strap of the headset are designed with a cloth lining and are modular, allowing them to adapt and conform to different face shapes and head sizes, according to Apple. The ribbed Head Band can fit around the back of a user’s head and users can swap different sizes and styles of band.
In collaboration with Zeiss, the German manufacturer of optical systems, the headset comes with optical inserts that magnetically attach to the lenses for people who wear glasses. Apple has promised that the headset’s display will be incredibly sharp and can deliver 4K video.
The Vision Pro has an external battery that can last up to two hours and can also be connected to a, “Supple woven cable” that allows users to carry it in their pockets. It can also be plugged into an external power source for all-day use.
What about those around us?
Since the announcement, Apple’s Vision Pro has received mixed responses from the public, with popular YouTube host Grace Randolph tweeting, “Don’t strap this to your head, man, I’m begging you. Loneliness is a huge problem these days, and this is just going to make things worse…”
However, the iPhone maker promises that Vision Pro users won’t be isolated from the people around them. Apple says the headset will display a user’s eyes with a system called EyeSight and if a user goes full VR, a glowing screen will obscure, suggesting the user’s unavailability.
Many believe that the device is very similar to the headset used to access the Oasis in Warner Bros.’s Ready Player One, with some tweeting that Apple is trying to bring the experience to life.
Users will also get access to a digital persona or avatar by simply scanning their faces. The headset uses passthrough video that allows a user to not only see the real world in full colour but also lets them project 3D objects into real spaces and pull objects out of a message thread into the real world.
In partnership with Disney, Apple showed off its TV and Arcade offerings on the headset which includes premium content from the Marvel Studios parent company.
It’s too expensive (for most people)
Despite Apple’s elegant and super stylish presentation of the Vision Pro, the biggest highlight of the device is its hefty $3,499 price tag, which feels like an inflated price for a big screen experience. For Apple consumers who are historically happy to pay more for less performance, this doesn’t exactly come as a surprise despite early rumours speculating that the device would cost about $3,000.
“VR/AR will struggle as a medium if tech like Vision Pro costs this much, there’s a reason Quest 2 was so successful. You can have the best tech ever, doesn’t matter if people can’t actually afford it. People thought PSVR 2 was too expensive, good luck convincing them on this,” wrote a Twitter user named Henry Stockdale.
In an opinion piece of the Vision Pro, SkarredGhost wrote that most people cannot afford the headset. “At $3,499 you need to give people a strong reason to buy, and I don’t think this headset has any valid reason to convince average people to spend that money. I see no compelling reason to make people rush to the store to buy this device. This confirms my speculation that this headset will sell a few units, but will not be disruptive to the market now. Which is ok.”
However, like previous Apple products that were pricey but ended up selling out, the Vision Pro might be one of those. But this is not an iPhone or a Mac, so the question is, how many Apple users are willing to spend that much on an AR/VR headset, or if they’re even interested in spending time in an Extended Reality?
Apple will undoubtedly market the product flawlessly, seeing as they have enough time to convince people to buy it before it launches next year.
The tech giant has taken a big step into the XR space, paving the way towards the next big technology platform that encompasses Web3. And although the device doesn’t necessarily focus on gaming like in Ready Player One, it’s an impressive but pricey first step from Apple despite mainstream adoption looking very unlikely.