When Apple launched its Apple Vision Pro on 5 June, it wasn’t just unveiling a new product. It was setting the stage for a seismic shift in the world of spatial computing. This innovative device merges the digital and physical realms, promising to keep users in the present while connecting them with others.
The Vision Pro offers an expansive canvas for apps, going beyond traditional display boundaries to introduce a fully three-dimensional user interface.
As Anthony Clemons, a Graduate Teaching Assistant at Northern Illinois University, puts it, “The device combines AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) capabilities and features a 4K display for each eye, 12 cameras, five sensors, and runs on Apple’s M2 chip and a new chip called R1.”
Built into the Vision Pro is visionOS, the world’s first spatial operating system, allowing users to interact with digital content as if it was physically present.
Its breakthrough design features an ultra-high-resolution display system with 23 million pixels across two displays, and custom Apple silicon in a unique dual-chip design. This technology, according to Clemons, “exceeds what most consumers would typically buy.”
A Look at the Hardware
The Vision Pro is loaded with advanced features. Among these are two Micro-OLED displays, each offering a resolution similar to a 4K television.
An Apple M2 processor and a specialized R1 processor power the device, and a network of cameras, sensors, and microphones creates a highly intuitive user interface.
All these attributes enable the Vision Pro to operate at a level of fidelity that surpasses products currently on the market, such as Meta’s Quest 2.
However, as Clemons notes, “the headset might be too costly for widespread adoption across multiple industries.”
Despite the high price tag, the Vision Pro’s powerful specs allow it to display the outside world through video feeds on the inside of the headset in real time, thus marking it the first device capable of both high-quality VR and augmented reality experiences.
Echoes of the iPhone Revolution
Andrew Norris, a tech writer at The Big Phone Store, draws a parallel between the Vision Pro and the original iPhone, both of which transformed their respective landscapes.
“When the original iPhone was released, it revolutionised touch screen devices. A similar revolution may be happening with the Vision Pro with its eye-tracking feature,” he notes.
Yet, Norris points out that the Vision Pro still faces some challenges common to VR technology, such as weight, limited battery life (2 hours, according to Apple), and potential for technical glitches.
“Whilst the Vision Pro is following the trend of slimmer headsets… it is also constructed with metal and glass, and I can easily see the weight becoming unbearable,” he warns.
Setting the Stage for the VR Golden Age
According to Justin Albertynas, CEO of RatePunk, the Vision Pro is just the beginning of what could be a new golden age for VR.
He says, “I believe that VR has great potential, and the golden age of VR is yet to come. This Apple Vision Pro headset is like the first or second iPhone – it has great potential.”
He notes that hardware limitations are currently a setback, stating, “The headsets are quite bulky and uncomfortable on the face, there are various cables to deal with, and there aren’t many users.”
On top of this, Albertynas mentions the lack of apps and the increased difficulty of developing for VR compared to the web. He implies that we’re yet to experience the full “wow” of VR due to missing infrastructure.
The Vision Pro, retailing at US$3,499, is indeed steep. Yet, Albertynas sees this as a strategic move by Apple.
He believes the device is aimed at early adopters, those who are willing to pay a premium and provide honest feedback.
Drawing a parallel with the evolution of the MacBook Pro, Albertynas anticipates a similar pattern for VR headsets – the prices will decrease significantly as technology advances and newer generations are released.
The Battle Begins: Apple Vision Pro vs. Meta Quest
Dominik Angerer, CEO of Storyblok, sheds light on the intense competition between Apple and Meta.
“Anyone saying Meta’s Quest headsets are irrelevant after the Apple Vision Pro announcement should reconsider,” he advises.
According to a survey conducted by Storyblok, “44% of Meta’s Quest headsets will be strong competition for Apple, with only 18% saying the Apple Vision Pro will make them irrelevant.”
This points to a burgeoning market where competition breeds innovation and consumer choice. Regardless of the competition, the Vision Pro has managed to impress a significant number of executives.
The same survey found that 92% were interested in creating content for the device, and 46% were willing to pay its steep price.
“Apple did a good job of introducing the Apple Vision Pro to businesses and developers. Not only do more of them think this was another iPhone moment for Apple, but data shows that an increased number are willing to pay the high price for the device and create content for it, even though most think it’s two years away from being important for their customers,” said Angerer.
As Apple breaks new ground with its Vision Pro, it is clear that the landscape of spatial computing is about to undergo a radical transformation.
Despite challenges and competition, the potential for this new technology is vast, heralding a new era in VR and AR experiences. However, its ultimate success will depend on user acceptance, creative application development, and how effectively the device’s high price point is addressed.