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Apple Storms into Mixed Reality Space with Vision Pro Headset


Apple executives have finally revealed the company’s long-awaited Vision Pro headset. The device, long the subject of rumours across the tech industry, has officially surfaced at the Cupertino-based firm’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).

The tech giant’s first-ever venture into immersive technologies comes after a two-year snowball of delays and setbacks while developing the device. It is also the first device on offer since the launch of its Apple Watch in 2004.

Apple’s annual event showcases the full launch of the company’s iPhone, iPad, macOS, and wearable devices. However, with this year’s event, the firm will debut its first immersive hardware device.

The WWDC is expected to take hours as it unveils a trove of product updates, including the widely-anticipated Reality Pro, according to reports. Cook’s keynote will likely take place at an outdoor venue at the company’s Apple Park headquarters in Cupertino.

Introducing the Vision Pro

Opening the big reveal in a keynote speech, Cook explained that augmented reality was a “profound technology, blending digital content with the real world and unlike experiences like nothing we’ve ever seen.”

The Vision Pro, a new computing device, would allow users to interact with digital content using “natural and intuitive tools.” Headset wearers no longer control the device primarily with handset devices, but with their eye gaze, voice, and hand gestures, Cook told audiences.

He added that users could place their apps in their surroundings, becoming an “infinite canvas” for the wearer. This would allow people to capture 3D videos, photos, and watch their favourite programmes and movies.

Tapping the devices spatial audio, people could seamlessly blend the virtual and physical world, he explained.

Cook continued:

“So in the same way that Mac introduced us to personal computing, and iPhone introduced us to mobile computing. Apple vision Pro will introduce us to spatial computing. This marks the beginning of a journey that will bring a new dimension to powerful personal technology”

Vision Pro Specifications

According to Apple, the new device would carry a trove of high-end specifications such its visionOS operating system. The world-first spatial OS would allow natural interactions with digital content, complete with a massive 23 million pixel resolution across two huge displays.

Inside the headset, the device coms with a bespoke, dual-chip processor. The Vision Pro would feature an M2 Silicon chip and a R1 graphics processor to deliver cutting-edge, low-latency compute power.

Productivity: visionOS will also allow displays to appear simultaneously at scale to access apps and multitask between programmes on the headset. It will also allow pairing with Apple’s Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad for immersive, remote working experiences in 4K.

Entertainment: The top-spec headset can also immerse users in a virtual theatre setting, no matter their surroundings. With a display replicating a 100-foot-wide theatre screen and 180-degree spatial audio, users can transport to the movies wherever they go. Headset wearers can also access Apple’s growing number of Apple Arcade games while linking the device to select controllers.

Spatial FaceTime: FaceTime users can also leverage the device for speaking directly to other users via a volumetrically-captured ‘Persona.’

Environments: The Vision Pro’s Environments feature will allow users to transform their physical rooms into massive, 360-degree landscapes for full immersion. Using the device’s Digital Crown, people can select and control the level of immersion while using the headset.

3D Filmmaking: Additionally, Apple’s 3D camera will allow the Vision Pro to take immersive pictures and video, complete with spatial audio. They can also access their full libraries across iCloud, with panoramic views wrapping around the user.

Apple Pre-Game Sends Stocks Soaring

Reports show that the WWDC announcement has sent Apple shares to historic highs, surpassing records of $182.94 from January last year.

On Monday, shares topped $184.73, with a stock increase of 1.80 percent at $184.13 in morning trading hours.

Speaking to Apple Insider, investors told the publication that in the long-term, the XR market would beat scepticism with “technological improvements, new use cases, and lower price points.”

The AR/VR headset market could top $100 billion by 2030 and surpass $500 billion by 2037. This would imply that “AR/VR could become the next major ($20B+) standalone compute platform for Apple,” the analysts added.

Genies Comments on Apple Headset

In a statement seen by XR today, Akash Nigam, CEO, Genies commented on Apple’s Vision Pro headset, adding people should expect “wide skepticism.”

Genies is an XR company specialising in creative content and digital assets linked to retail, gaming, shopping, and other digital assets.

Historical Designing Feats

Commenting on Apple’s history of designing hardware, the executive said,

“Whenever Apple introduces something new, it is met with some type of backlash from both the markets and consumers. But as time has shown, Apple has successfully predicted the behavior of what people will want, not what they want right now, which has led to mass adoption across multiple devices, making them the trendsetters of the hardware industry.”

The Apple Vision Pro also showed the XR industry was “heading into a new form of engagement and communication,” he said.

According to Nigam, the company had “intentionally never been the first to launch computing devices.” However, Apple pioneered its trendsetting technology to drive consumer adoption, he added.

“They’re patient, thoughtful, and prioritize the most important foundational elements,” he added.

Opening the Venture Capital Floodgates

Speaking further on venture capital linked to augmented reality investments, Nigam told XR Today to “expect a significant surge” in investments. He added the market should expect VC firms to ramp up investments in artificial intelligence (AI) mixed with AR.

Doing so will “create a fantasy layer of experiences on top of the real world.” With the latest AI assistant integrations, developers could also “create mini apps in AR” assisted with AI.

He continued: “This will allow people to express themselves at the speed of thought. The spaces that will most likely be impacted from AR integration immediately are shopping, entertainment, and location based experiences.”

Putting the ‘Human’ in Human-Controller Interface

Apple’s latest hardware offering would “allow humans to engage more,”  he said. Nigam explained further the need for new human-computer interfacing (HCI) forms.

He added,

“With all the talk of AI replacing humans and human interaction, Apple’s new hardware will cut down on screen time and allow people to further engage in interpersonal activities, which better mimic their normal human activities. As crazy as it may seem, I believe AR hardware will be better for mental health than mobile phones. There needs to be more interaction around experiences instead of mindlessly consuming experiences. Hardware should better mimic human activities and allow people to participate and stay present, versus sit idly and scroll.”

Finally, he stated that current computing devices offered “a new breed of developers, and the barrier to entry typically decreases by a fold of years.”

He concluded: “Expect young gamers and storytellers to become the next generation of builders for experiences and worlds in AR.”

More to follow…

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