Apple recently launched its first significant new product in nearly a decade at its U.S. headquarters: the Vision Pro, an interactive augmented reality (AR) headset. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, aims for this AR headset to “pioneer a new era of personal technology.”
Design and Features of the Vision Pro
Resembling ski goggles at first glance, the Vision Pro AR headset is designed to immerse users in virtual worlds through a high-resolution display that seemingly sits directly before their eyes. Integrated cameras within the Apple device allow for customization of how it interacts with the real world. The headset also enables onlookers to see the user’s eyes, as the glasses can project a representation of the wearer’s eyes to the outside world.
Key Challenges: Battery Life and Pricing
A fundamental question that arises following the initial excitement around this product launch, which has been in the works for the past three years, is: why would anyone opt to wear a device on their face whose batteries barely last for two hours, roughly the length of a feature film? What distinct advantages does the Vision Pro offer over a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or remote control? Another potential hurdle is the Vision Pro’s price tag. Scheduled to be available early next year, the headset will retail for $3,499 (approximately 3,265 euros), which raises affordability concerns.
Comparison with Other AR and VR Products
Comparatively, prior high-tech glasses or headsets like Google Glass, Magic Leap, Microsoft’s HoloLens, and Meta’s Quest Pro have had varied success, ranging from commercial flops to modest triumphs. Yet, no other company is trusted more than Apple to successfully launch a new product in the market. Leveraging their past successes, particularly with tablets, Apple might be the one to popularize these devices and associated applications, despite their presentation not offering any novel use cases for this technology.
Apple’s Perspective on AR and Its Usability
In response to questions about the Vision Pro’s utility, Apple asserts that the device provides augmented reality, not a disconnected “metaverse.” Promotional materials depict users employing the device at home or in the office, enjoying stargazing in bed, or taking a unique “spatial photo” of children at play. Apple has consciously avoided the term “metaverse” associated with Meta’s “Quest Headsets,” opting for “spatial computing” to emphasize the enhancement of the real world rather than entirely virtual experiences.
Overcoming AR Challenges and Emphasizing on Work and Entertainment
Apple underscored two specific applications for Vision Pro during its presentation: work and entertainment. The emphasis on professional usage is somewhat unexpected from a company primarily known for consumer products, which could be a strategic move considering the high price that may render the headset unaffordable for many households.
An Interface Revolution: Gesture Control and Collaborations
Apple boasts that the Vision Pro has the most refined interface among all VR and AR headsets to date. Users can surround themselves with hand-operated apps, project their Mac screen, and accept FaceTime calls with a mini avatar of themselves. In the entertainment sphere, Apple highlighted its collaborations with film and game studios, including Disney.
Expectations and the Future
As the market anticipates the arrival of Apple’s new product, it will be intriguing to see whether this venture pays off and if the market and consumers share Apple’s high expectations.