Apple has officially unveiled its latest innovation: the Apple Vision Pro. Described as Apple’s first spatial computer, this mixed reality headset promises to seamlessly blend digital content with the physical world, enabling users to stay connected while experiencing a new dimension of computing
A New Era of Spatial Computing
The Vision Pro, announced at Apple’s WWDC developer conference, is a significant leap forward in the realm of mixed reality technology. The company refers to it as a “spatial computer,” a device that integrates digital content into the user’s surrounding environment. This device marks a shift from conventional screens to a much more immersive experience where digital interfaces are superimposed onto the real world.
This revolutionary headset works by tracking a user’s eyes, hands, and voice to control the interface. Apple’s design philosophy behind Vision Pro focuses on maintaining user engagement with their surroundings, instead of isolating them. The device’s EyeSight technology displays the user’s eyes and expressions on the outer display, revealing nearby people through pass-through technology, thus enhancing the sense of presence and connectivity.
A Glimpse into the Hardware
Visually, the Vision Pro headset has been likened to a pair of high-tech ski goggles. With a sleek design, it stands out as a more aesthetically pleasing device compared to other AR or VR headsets on the market. It has a thin, silvery main body with a fabric shield and a plushy band at the back. Most of the device’s weight comes from these components. The goggles are slightly curved to comfortably fit most faces.
The device’s audio and most of its sensors and cameras are neatly tucked away. The built-in spatial audio components are embedded in small bumps on the sides of the headset’s band, while the cameras and other sensors are housed just beneath the front-facing glass. Notably, there’s a front-facing display that gently pulses with light, indicating that the user is inside the headset but cannot see out.
Apple’s Vision Pro is powered by an M2 chip paired with a new R1 chip to create a dual-processor setup. The device can capture spatial photos and videos and simulate environments such as a dark theater in a brightly lit room. It also supports Mac peripherals and applications like FaceTime and SharePlay wirelessly, promising a seamless integration with the Apple ecosystem.
VisionOS and Apps
The Vision Pro runs on visionOS, dubbed as the world’s first spatial operating system. This OS creates a digital avatar that looks human and realistic, a departure from cartoonish Memoji. As for apps, Apple has ensured compatibility with many popular applications right out of the gate. Microsoft and Zoom apps are already optimized for visionOS, and hundreds of thousands of iPad and Mac apps will be available at launch. The device also introduces a new biometric security method, Optic ID, essentially a Touch ID and Face ID but for your eyes.
Price and Availability
The Vision Pro comes with a hefty price tag, starting at $3,499, and is expected to be available early next year.
Despite this ambitious project, some questions and debates about its practicality and usage remain unanswered. There are concerns about comfort during extended usage, the handling of the attached cable, the device’s heat management, and the quality of the display experience. Furthermore, the headset’s software and user interface will play crucial roles in its success.
As Apple steps into the world of mixed reality with the Vision Pro, it’s clear that they envision a future where spatial computing plays a significant role. The coming months will surely bring more details about this groundbreaking device, but for now, the tech world is abuzz with the possibilities this new form of computing might unlock.