Apple has thrown down the gauntlet for augmented reality becoming an everyday reality with today’s launch of Vision Pro: a “revolutionary spatial computer that seamlessly blends digital content with the physical world, while allowing users to stay present and connected to others.”
At first glance they look like a pair of ski goggles worn by a Bond villain. And the technology isn’t far off the high tech gadgetry the gentleman spy was fond of using: an ocular interface that can be controlled by looking at it via an operating system known as VisionOS.
Through VisionOS, you can tap and scroll Apps just as you would with your iPhone and Bluetooth technology can even let you connect with your Mac and trackpad so you can type in virtual space.
Made with an aluminium frame and glass front that containing five sensors, 12 cameras, a 4K display for each eye, sound is filtered through audio straps that sit by the ear. The headband that holds it in place is customisable for size and style.
Augmented reality has become just one of the new space races as tech companies continue to fight for ruling rights within online domains. The Metaverse – both the abstract concept and the interactive avatar-led world that Facebook-founder Mark Zuckerberg buried billions in – has become prime real estate for everyone from moguls and artists eager to see just how far we are willing to escape into.
But it’s never quite taken off. At least, not quite like our most imaginative sci-fi depictions would have us hoped. Clunky, somewhat hokey in design and ultimately just one more interface demanding our attention, the metaverse as a concept also began to become something of a joke, courtesy of the constant controversies surrounding its adjacent cultures of cryptocurrency and NFTs.
It looks like Apple has learnt from this, however. Rather than attempting to immerse someone so completely they lose all sense of reality (a common complaint was lost time) Vision Pro does what it says on the box: augments reality.
“It’s the first Apple product you look through, and not at,” explains CEO Tim Cook. Meaning, Vision Pro and VisionOS overlap the real world, allowing you to still interact with your surroundings. If you’ve ever seen the Tom Cruise film Minority Report, this is what we’re imagining. Just, via the screen of your goggles.
Starting prices for the Vision Pro are $3499 USD (approx. $5260 AUD) which might be something of hurdle of the average punter, particularly when the Meta Quest racks in at roughly $629.
Time will tell if this truly will be the gateway to a digital revolution or another gadget on the virtual shelf.