Apple Unveils its Mixed Reality Headset, the Vision Pro

Apple has just made waves at the Worldwide Developers Conference, leaving its biggest announcement till the very end.

Come 2024, the latest addition to Apple's portfolio, the Apple Vision Pro, will be launched for its American patrons.

A mixed-reality headset, the Vision Pro aims to transform your immediate surroundings into a digital playground. This immersive gadget promises to give users access to a wide range of services including Facetime, Messages, Safari, and many more, with a suite of iOS apps, streaming services, and video games in its arsenal. Its Mac pairing capabilities make it a viable option for large-scale video and audio editing.

Armed with eye tracking, hand motion technology, and vocal command features, Vision Pro doesn’t rely on a remote for control. The gadget also ensures that users stay connected to their immediate surroundings, activating a specific 'environment', much like a home screen, only upon users’ requests, similar to Meta Quest or Oculus VR headsets. EyeSight, a proprietary software by Apple, keeps the user connected to their environment by detecting other people in the room and showing the user's eyes during a conversation. The headset will also inform others in the room if the user is in an immersive environment and cannot communicate.

A sophisticated 3D camera combined with a spatial audio system allows users to capture and view pictures and videos directly from the headset.

In order to facilitate such a high-end project, Apple developed a unique processor, the R1 chip. Exclusive to the Vision Pro, the R1 chip will handle input from 12 cameras, five sensors, and six microphones, delivering new images to the displays within 12 milliseconds. Complementing the R1 is the Apple M2 chip in each headset, ensuring seamless and swift application performance. Among the numerous features of the Vision Pro are:

  • 23 million pixels across both lenses
  • Real-time 3D mapping
  • A new spatial audio system harmonizing with the surroundings
  • A custom three-element lens supporting 4k video resolution
  • Hand, head, and eye tracking capabilities

The Vision Pro comes with a software named 'Persona' which enables users to create a 3D facial scan for use in FaceTime on the Vision Pro.

Apple has also introduced 'Reality Composer Pro', a new tool that will assist developers in creating spatial apps for Vision Pro. Developers can also leverage well-known tools like Xcode, SwiftUI, RealityKit, and ARKit. With this new approach, developers can revamp their 2D apps for a 3D platform, and a vast number of iOS apps will be made available with Vision Pro-specific apps in the new app store.

The unveiling of the Vision Pro was paired with the announcement of an intriguing collaboration with Disney. CEO of Disney, Bob Iger, dropped hints about the availability of Disney+ on Vision Pro from day one and possible immersive AR Disney experiences in the future.

Security was another key focus in Apple's presentation of the Vision Pro. The headset can be unlocked, and Apple Pay or password sharing can be used via optical identification. Apple assured users that data from eye-tracking technology and spatial awareness technology will be encrypted and will not be shared with websites or applications.

The Apple Vision Pro is set to hit the market with an impressive price tag starting at US$3,499 (approximately C$4,700).

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