WWDC: Apple’s Vision Pro headset won’t solve the problems with virtual reality

WWDC: Apple’s Vision Pro headset won’t solve the problems with virtual reality

Apple has introduced its first VR headset


Apple’s newly introduced digital actuality headset guarantees to mix the actual world with video and audio, starting from immersive FaceTime video chats to watching movies and exhibits on an enormous digital film display. However even the corporate that pioneered the fashionable smartphone might not have nice expectations for its $3499 gadget at a time when rival Silicon Valley giants corresponding to Meta and Microsoft have struggled to make VR go mainstream.

“Apple’s headset is each experimental and costly,” says Lee Vinsel, a historian of know-how at Virginia Tech. “The identical was true for a lot of different finally profitable gadgets, together with the iPhone, however these applied sciences had been opening up new areas, whereas Apple is getting into well-trod floor the place others have failed.”

Apple’s Imaginative and prescient Professional headset offered at its annual Worldwide Builders Convention on 5 June is designed to ship blended actuality experiences for a lot of acquainted apps made by Apple, Microsoft and different corporations that blend digital and bodily areas for work and leisure. The headset additionally supplies a “see-through” expertise that exhibits the wearer’s eyes and permits for interplay with different folks within the bodily world even whereas the wearer is interacting with digital experiences. It even creates a digital persona to copy the looks of the wearer to be used in FaceTime conversations and different experiences.

Scheduled to turn into accessible for buy in early 2024, the headset is related by a woven cable to a …

pocket battery that helps as much as 2 hours of use and supposedly runs virtually silently and at a snug temperature. It additionally accommodates a brand new Apple laptop chip known as R1 that processes data from 12 cameras, 5 sensors and 6 microphones in an try and remove sensor lag. The headset could be managed solely via the wearer’s visible gaze, voice and small hand gestures corresponding to pinching and flicking motions.

Silicon Valley has been attempting to make some model of XR – the catchall phrase for digital actuality, augmented actuality and combined actuality – go mainstream for many years, says Wagner James Au, creator of the e book Making a Metaverse That Issues. Apple’s Imaginative and prescient Professional headset is technically a combined actuality gadget that allows wearers to entry immersive digital experiences whereas nonetheless seeing the surface world.

Apple's Vision Pro headset

Apple’s Imaginative and prescient Professional headset


A part of the problem for XR headsets has been the steep value, together with the bodily discomfort and awkwardness of utilizing cumbersome headsets. However one other important difficulty that has been neglected by many tech corporations entails the many individuals who expertise digital actuality illness, which is like movement illness, says Au.

Regardless of having offered 20 million Quest headsets to this point, Meta has struggled to maintain VR customers returning to the digital experiences accessible in its beforehand touted metaverse platform. Shortly earlier than Apple’s headset announcement, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced his firm’s upcoming Quest 3 VR headset that additionally provides a combined actuality expertise.

In the meantime, Microsoft had offered simply 300,000 models of its HoloLens headset as of late 2022 whereas equally failing to realize traction for its personal metaverse imaginative and prescient.

Digital actuality and different XR headsets failed to realize important traction even through the pandemic when tens of millions of individuals stayed nearer to house – international shipments of each VR and AR headsets shrank by greater than 12 per cent between 2021 and 2022. “The bottom of VR customers stays small and remains to be virtually wholly in video video games and different types of leisure,” says Vinsel.

Provided that backdrop, Apple has projected gross sales of lower than 100,000 models of its headset and complete manufacturing of probably simply 300,000 headsets, in line with TrendForce. If the headset doesn’t promote nicely even based mostly on these modest objectives, Apple might nonetheless “current it as a prototype or as an early adopter factor” and promote it primarily for enterprise clients, says Au.

Apple’s headset growth has value the corporate greater than $1 billion per 12 months, in line with Bloomberg. However because the world’s largest firm and earnings of virtually $100 billion in 2022, the corporate can afford to guess on a multibillion greenback VR experiment even when it utterly fails.

“They may throw a billion {dollars} at analysis in VR and never even discover it,” says Au. “That’s just like the change of their sofa.”


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