Apple Vision Pro (First Impressions and Thoughts)

Apple is breaking into the AR and VR scene with its new, first-generation headset packed with a multitude of cameras, sensors, and an M2 Chip. This groundbreaking device, set to go on sale starting early next year, will cost around $3,500 and offer a unique user experience by eliminating the need for controllers. Instead, users will interact with the headset through their hands, eyes, and voice commands. With an impressive array of features like eye tracking and “2 way pass-through” technology, it seems Apple is setting the stage for an impressive entry into the immersive technology market.

man in black crew neck shirt wearing black headphones

Key Takeaways

  • Apple’s new AR/VR headset features an advanced sensor system and robust eye tracking, eliminating the need for physical controllers.
  • The “2 way pass-through” technology creates a unique and immersive experience, enabling users to interact with digital content while appearing to maintain eye contact with others.
  • Vision OS is Apple’s new operating system tailored for the headset, bringing the seamless touch functionality of iPad OS into the realm of AR and VR.

What Is It

Apple’s new AR VR headset is a first-generation device that combines augmented reality and virtual reality within a standalone computer system. Featuring an array of cameras, sensors, and an M2 Chip, this headset offers a unique and interactive experience for users. Priced at $3,500, the AR VR headset is expected to go on sale early next year.

One of the most remarkable aspects of Apple’s AR VR headset is its vast array of sensors. There are two main forward-facing cameras, two downward-facing cameras, two side-facing cameras, two infrared illuminators, a Lidar scanner, and a TrueDepth camera—all of which work together to monitor the surroundings and track the user’s hands and eyes. There is also a dedicated R1 chip that handles the real-time processing of all these sensors’ inputs.

Eye tracking is a highly impressive feature of this headset, providing users with a nearly magical experience. During the set-up process, users are first required to scan their face using the TrueDepth camera on their iPhone. This helps create a custom fit and adapts the headset based on the user’s facial structure. This means even those wearing glasses can expect a comfortable fit with the help of Zeiss lenses.

Users control the headset entirely with their hands, eyes, and voice, making it a truly immersive experience. The eye-tracking technology is so advanced that users can quickly and accurately select what they are looking at without any lag. The simple action of touching one’s fingers together allows the user to “click” and navigate through the UI fluidly.

Another innovative feature of Apple’s AR VR headset is its two-way pass-through system. Unlike conventional VR headsets with opaque shells, this headset employs an OLED screen facing outwards. When the user engages in pass-through mode, which is useful for interacting with real-life surroundings, the OLED screen displays the user’s eyes—creating an illusion of transparency.

Apple’s AR VR headset runs on Vision OS and currently offers a limited selection of its own apps. However, the company plans to allow developers to create apps specifically for this new platform, expanding the possibilities for users and software alike.

How Does It Work

Sensing and Tracking

The Apple AR VR headset is equipped with an array of cameras and sensors. These include two forward-facing cameras, two downward-facing cameras, two side-facing cameras, two infrared illuminators, a LiDAR scanner, and a TrueDepth camera. Together, they help detect the user’s environment and hand movements for seamless interaction.

Eye Tracking

One of the standout features of this headset is its highly accurate eye tracking. During the setup process, the device calibrates to the user’s eyes by having them stare at different dots. This allows the headset to track eye movements and highlight UI elements accurately. Users can select items by simply looking at them and clicking their fingers together.

Hand Gestures and Control

The headset doesn’t rely on external controllers for interaction; users control it entirely with their hands, eyes, and voice. Apple’s headset utilizes the multiple sensors on the device to track hand movements, providing the users with accurate selections depending on their hand positions. Whether typing or selecting, users can control the UI using a combination of hand gestures, looking at text boxes, or talking directly into the headset’s microphone.

Optic ID

In addition to tracking eye movement, the headset offers a security feature known as Optic ID. This unique biometric pattern relies on the user’s eyes for authentication. The headset recognizes the user’s eyes and logs in as soon as they wear the device. When users engage in pass-through mode, an OLED screen facing outward displays their eyes, providing a realistic and immersive experience.

2 Way Pass-through

One of the most impressive features of Apple’s new AR VR headset is the 2 Way Pass-through technology. Unlike typical VR headsets which have opaque shells, Apple’s headset utilizes a special OLED display that faces outward. This creates an illusion of transparency, allowing users to see outside their virtual environments seamlessly.

The pass-through on Apple’s headset is the best in a headset so far. It offers a stereo, color, sharp, and real-time view of the user’s surroundings, making it ideal for switching between the virtual world and reality. When engaging with the environment, the OLED display shows the users’ eyes, giving a realistic and somewhat eerie appearance.

When the user is fully immersed in a VR experience, the OLED display shows a distinct graphic over the user’s eyes, maintaining the visual appearance of the headset. This bold design choice sets Apple’s headset apart from its competitors, providing a unique and interesting appearance for the user.

Inside the headset, users can interact with a new operating system called Vision OS, which offers a myriad of functions including web browsing and content management. The responsiveness of this headset paired with hand gesture controls offers an incredibly immersive and intuitive experience. Users can simply touch their fingers together to make selections, dragging windows, or interacting with content, all without the use of physical controllers.

With 2 Way Pass-through technology, Apple’s AR VR headset has raised the bar for virtual reality experiences. This feature allows users to switch between their virtual and real surroundings with ease, making the headset highly versatile for different applications and environments. As developers begin creating new apps and experiences tailored for this headset, the possibilities for its use will continue to expand.

Functionality

Computing

The new AR VR headset from Apple acts as a standalone computer with its own M2 Chip, Wi-Fi connection, and a new operating system called Vision OS. The operating system seems quite similar to iPad OS in terms of user interaction. With the impressive eye tracking technology and hand gestures, users can easily navigate through the UI. Just as you would touch or scroll on an iPad, you can look at a window and drag it using your fingers in the air. This headset is excellent for computing tasks, such as web browsing, with its 4K windows that can be easily manipulated and moved around.

Content

As a first-generation product, the headset currently only supports Apple’s native apps. However, Apple plans to open up the platform for developers to create their own apps that can be added to the device. This will eventually expand the headset’s functionality and content offerings, making it more interesting and appealing to users. With the built-in 4K micro OLED display, users can enjoy high-quality content whether they are watching a movie or playing a game.

Connections

The headset comes equipped with numerous sensors and cameras, enabling a truly immersive AR/VR experience. There’s no need for any external controllers as the device relies on user’s hand gestures, eye movements, and voice commands for control. This allows for a seamless connection between the user and the headset. Furthermore, the device uses optic ID technology to recognize the user’s eyes and log in, making it very secure.

The headset also supports pass-through modes which enable the user to view their surroundings without taking the headset off. The pass-through on Apple’s headset is remarkable, as it provides a real-time, sharp, and color view of the environment captured by the external cameras. Additionally, the OLED screens on the headset’s exterior give an illusion of the user’s eyes being visible, adding to the overall impact and futuristic feel of the device.

Vision OS

Vision OS is a whole new operating system designed specifically for Apple’s AR/VR headset. Drawing similarities to iPad OS, this platform provides users with an intuitive interface and seamless user experience. Running entirely standalone, the headset doesn’t rely on your iPhone or Mac for its functionality, making it an independent device.

The responsiveness of Vision OS is impressive, as it allows users to interact with their environment by just using their hands. Browsing the web and navigating through different applications is made simpler through Vision OS, without the need for any additional controllers. With its advanced eye-tracking technology, users can select options by just looking at them and then touching their fingers together.

Vision OS will be a central part of the user experience for the upcoming Apple AR/VR headset. As a first-gen product, initial applications available on the device will be limited to Apple’s core apps. However, developers have ample opportunity to create new applications for the device before its release, ensuring that this platform will continue to grow and offer a variety of innovative uses.

The headset, equipped with Vision OS, is made for both personal and professional use. It allows one to perform computing tasks and conduct business operations within the headset by manipulation of virtual windows and interfaces. The ease of use and the level of interactivity provided by Vision OS make the AR/VR headset a potentially powerful tool for productivity.

Why will people buy the Apple Vision Pro?

 I can say that there is certainly a market for Apple’s new AR/VR headset. While the $3,500 price tag may be a bit steep for some, there are many tech enthusiasts and early adopters who are willing to invest in the latest and greatest technology. Additionally, the headset’s advanced features and unique user interface make it an attractive option for professionals in fields such as architecture, design, and engineering, who can utilize the headset’s capabilities for productivity and collaboration.

Furthermore, as developers create more apps and experiences tailored specifically for the headset, it is likely that the device’s appeal will only continue to grow. Overall, while it may not be for everyone, I believe there is certainly a market for Apple’s AR/VR headset, and it will be interesting to see how consumers respond to this new technology.

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