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In a groundbreaking announcement, Apple today revealed its latest innovation in the world of technology – the Apple Vision Pro. This highly anticipated augmented reality (AR) headset is set to revolutionize the way we interact with the digital world. With its seamless integration of real and virtual elements, the Vision Pro is a significant step forward in the realm of wearable tech. Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, describes it as the first Apple product that users look through rather than at, reminiscent of a pair of ski goggles. Priced at $3,499, the headset is scheduled for an early release next year in the US, followed by availability in other countries later in the year.
The Apple Vision Pro is primarily positioned as an AR device, but it offers the flexibility to switch seamlessly between augmented and full virtual reality modes using a dial. One of the standout features of the headset is its controller-free operation. Users navigate through rows of app icons using visionOS, an operating system specially designed for the device. By simply looking at the icons, users can tap to select and flick to scroll, with voice commands also supported. What’s more, Apple assures users that “hundreds of thousands of familiar iPhone and iPad apps” will automatically adapt to this new mode of interaction. Furthermore, the headset is compatible with Bluetooth accessories such as the Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad, allowing users to connect their Mac and utilize it within the headset. The downward-facing cameras on the device can even capture the user’s hand movements, even if they are resting low on their body.
The Apple Vision Pro boasts a sleek design with a glass front and an aluminum frame. It houses an array of cutting-edge technology, including five sensors, 12 cameras, and a 4K display for each eye. To ensure optimal performance, the device is equipped with a cooling fan to regulate its internal temperature. The headset mask, known as the “Light Seal,” and the flexible cloth-lined strap, aptly named the “Head Band,” are modular and adjustable to accommodate various face shapes and head sizes. The ribbed Head Band wraps around the back of the user’s head, and Apple offers different sizes and styles to suit individual preferences.
Recognizing the needs of users who wear glasses, Apple has partnered with Zeiss to create custom optical inserts that magnetically attach to the lenses. Additionally, the headset features an external battery with up to two hours of battery life. Connected via a supple woven cable, it can conveniently slip into a pocket. Alternatively, users can connect the headset to an external power source for prolonged usage. Apple promises an unprecedented level of visual clarity, with the display capable of delivering 4K video.
Apple assures users that the Vision Pro does not isolate them from their surroundings. Through a system called EyeSight, the headset displays the user’s eyes, ensuring a sense of connection with others. In full virtual reality mode, a glowing screen obscures the user’s eyes to indicate that they are not available for interaction. Furthermore, the device creates a digital “persona” by scanning the user’s face, resulting in a hyperrealistic avatar. Using passthrough video technology, users can experience the real world in full color while projecting 3D objects into their environment. For instance, one can extract objects from a message thread and bring them into the physical world.
In the realm of remote communication, the Apple Vision Pro offers spatial audio capabilities, allowing users to arrange FaceTime participants as video tiles within their surroundings. Additionally, users can capture and relive immersive 180-degree videos with the integrated 3D camera while wearing the headset. Apple also emphasizes that the Vision Pro will feature an array of TV and Arcade content, including premium offerings from Disney+.
The development of the Apple Vision Pro has been a lengthy and meticulous process, with several iterations and years of delays. It represents Apple CEO Tim Cook’s ambitious contribution to the company’s product lineup. Despite the current market’s relatively low adoption rate, the Vision Pro has garnered praise from industry insiders. Its main competitor will likely be Meta, the company behind the popular Quest 2 headset, which has found success in the gaming sector but received a more mixed reception for its general-purpose Quest Pro.