Apple Vision Pro headset mixes reality with virtual reality

Image via Apple

The device will compete with Meta’s less-expensive Meta Quest

In perhaps its most anticipated product launch since the Apple Watch, Apple has introduced Apple Vision Pro, a headset that blends digital content with the physical world. The company says it allows users to stay present and connected to others.

The device, which will retail for just under $3,500, is expected to go on sale in early 2024. According to Apple, the device features an ultra-high-resolution display system that packs 23 million pixels across two displays, and custom Apple silicon in a “unique dual-chip design to ensure every experience feels like it’s taking place in front of the user’s eyes in real-time.”

“Today marks the beginning of a new era for computing,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Just as the Mac introduced us to personal computing, and iPhone introduced us to mobile computing, Apple Vision Pro introduces us to spatial computing.”

Cook said Vision Pro is “years ahead and unlike anything created before.” He said users will love it and so will developers.

The device will compete with Meta’s headset, the Meta Quest 2, currently on sale for just under $300. The updated version, Meta Quest 3, will go on sale this fall at just under $500.

Going head-to-head with Meta

According to tech site The Verge, the updated Meta headset will be lighter and more comfortable for the user. It will feature a new Snapdragon chip inside and have twice the graphics performance.

The Apple device’s operating system, visionOS, features a three-dimensional interface that makes digital content look and feel present in a user’s physical world. It responds to natural light and shadows to give the user a perspective of space and distance. Inputs can be controlled using eyes, hands, or voice.

Joanna Stern, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, had the opportunity to try out Apple’s prototype. She says one of the unique things about the Vision Pro is that it combines virtual reality, where you are transported into a virtual world, with augmented reality, where virtual objects appear in your natural surroundings.

“For the first 15 minutes of the demo, I couldn’t believe how comfortable it was—far more cozy than the Meta Quest Pro or Quest 2,” Stern wrote. “But it’s still a lot of tech on your face. By the end, the top of my nose and forehead started to feel the weight. Apple says that discomfort was because the device wasn’t perfectly fit to my face. Also, when I touched the rim around the front screen it felt warm.”

Apple stresses the point that Apple Vision Pro is built around privacy and security, keeping users in control of their data. The authentication system analyzes a user’s iris under various invisible LED light exposures and then compares it to the enrolled Optic ID data that is protected by the Secure Enclave to instantly unlock Apple Vision Pro. 

The company says a user’s Optic ID data is fully encrypted, is not accessible to apps, and never leaves their device, meaning it is not stored on Apple servers. 

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