Apple unveils Vision Pro, its $3,500 headset

Published June 6, 2023
Apple’s first mixed reality headset, the Vision Pro. — Screengrab taken from Apple’s Twitter account
Apple’s first mixed reality headset, the Vision Pro. — Screengrab taken from Apple’s Twitter account

Apple on Monday unveiled its first mixed reality headset, challenging Facebook-owner Meta in a market that has yet to tempt users beyond videogamers and tech geeks.

The release was the most significant product launch by the iPhone maker since it unveiled the Apple Watch in 2015.

The Vision Pro, which was generally well received on Monday, will cost a hefty $3,499 and be available early next year in the United States only, the company said.

“There are certain products that shift the way we look at technology and the role it plays in our lives,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook as he unveiled the sleek VR device that resembled ski goggles.

“We believe Apple Vision Pro is a revolutionary product with the performance, immersion and capability that only Apple can deliver,” he added.

The headgear, which Apple referred to as a spatial computer, was introduced at the close of an Apple event in Cupertino, California in which the company announced a long list of product updates.

The product has been in development at Apple for years and will focus on gaming, streaming video and conferencing.

Company executives insisted that the Vision Pro offers an unchallenged experience, making the hard sell on the tech that has yet to win the hearts of the greater public.

Unlike its rivals, the Vision Pro delivers mixed reality technology that “clearly situates the user in their environment,” said Insider Intelligence principal analyst Yory Wurmser.

“Whereas Meta Quest and other devices are virtual reality-first, Vision Pro keeps the user in the present and emphasises the mixed reality features — unless they choose otherwise,” he added.

Vision Pro allows wearers to twist a watch-like “crown” to go from having interactive imagery augment one’s surroundings to being fully immersed in a rich 3-D experience that feels like being in a video or on a sports playing field, a hands-on demonstration showed.

Apple went to great lengths to preserve its signature design minimalism, at least to the extent that it could, given the technology squeezed into the Vision Pro.

The device has a glass front, an aluminium frame, five sensors, 12 cameras, a display for each eye, and a computer that is cooled with a fan.

Smaller than a scuba diving mask, Vision Pro will run mainly by being plugged into a power source in a clear effort to preserve a sleek design.

A cord-attached battery pack, which would slide into your pocket, would work for no more than two hours.

Vision Pro optics are tuned to each wearer’s eyes, freeing them from eyeglasses during use and also providing optical identification to verify user identity, the demonstration showed.

Blown away

Tech companies have struggled to sell virtual reality headsets to a wider audience that is uncomfortable with wearing a mask.

In an effort to overcome that resistance, internal cameras on Apple’s version will project the user’s eyes on an external screen.

“As a non-VR believer, I was actually blown away by how seamless the experience is,” said tech analyst Carolina Milanesi of Creative Strategies.

While wearing Vision Pro one can see who is nearby, and even look them in the eyes and have a conversation.

Disney partnered with Apple for the launch and the Mickey Mouse company teased content from Marvel, Star Wars and live sports that would be available on the device and provide an immersive experience.

Apple said that over 100 video games would be available from the day of release.

Collision course

The release puts Apple on a collision course with Meta, which had taken a head start on doubling down on virtual worlds.

Just days before Apple’s event, Meta ramped up its line of much cheaper Quest virtual reality headgear.

A new-generation Quest 3 will be available later this year at a starting price of $500.

Meta’s experience with the so-called metaverse has been humbling despite it being a leader in the emergent sector and many questioned whether Apple would in the end jump in.

Less than two years after changing its name to Meta to reflect a metaverse priority, the Facebook giant has fired tens of thousands of staff and promised to get back to its social media basics.

Follow Dawn Business on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook for insights on business, finance and tech from Pakistan and across the world.

Opinion

Editorial

Price bombs
Updated 18 Jun, 2024

Price bombs

It just wants to take the easy route and enjoy the ride for however long it is in power.
Palestine’s plight
Updated 17 Jun, 2024

Palestine’s plight

While the faithful across the world are celebrating with their families, thousands of Palestinian children have either been orphaned, or themselves been killed by the Israeli aggressors.
Profiting off denied visas
Updated 19 Jun, 2024

Profiting off denied visas

The staggering rejection rates underscore systemic biases in the largely non-transparent visa approval process.
After the deluge
Updated 16 Jun, 2024

After the deluge

There was a lack of mental fortitude in the loss against India while against US, the team lost all control and displayed a lack of cohesion and synergy.
Fugue state
16 Jun, 2024

Fugue state

WITH its founder in jail these days, it seems nearly impossible to figure out what the PTI actually wants. On one...
Sindh budget
16 Jun, 2024

Sindh budget

SINDH’S Rs3.06tr budget for the upcoming financial year is a combination of populist interventions, attempts to...