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Apple’s Vision (Pro) to the future

8 June 2023
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With their most significant product release since the Apple Watch, Apple has sought to change the course of the latest tech conversations towards their AR/VR world. With the announcement of Vision Pro at their WWDC, Apple have thrown themselves headfirst into the world of augmented reality, hoping to transform the industry and to lead it from the forefront.

The result of 7 years of research and design, the Vision Pro has opened up the conversation regarding the future of the space and has opened praise and criticism alike. We will look into the potential impact that this new technology can offer and look at a few of the questions it has left open.

What is the Vision Pro?

The Vision Pro is Apple’s foray into the realm of mixed reality technology. Looking like a pair of ski goggles, Apple‘s impressive release is full of potential and ripe for the public to behold in wonderment. With 5,000 patents filed over the past few years, this has been a product that unequivocally is enigmatic of Apple. Complete with 12 cameras, 6 microphones, and 23 million pixels, the impression that is being given is that if mixed reality doesn’t take off, it wasn’t the fault of the equipment.

Image Credit: Apple

Apple’s strong investment into the field, what they claim will usher in an “era of spatial computing”, comes at a time when the hot new thing in tech has shifted heavily away from the metaverse and landed squarely at the door of AI and its possibilities. Apple is betting they can change the conversation, but what are the possibilities with Vision Pro.

Looking at the demonstration from Apple, the Vision Pro is able to become your workspace in front of your eyes, allowing an integrated world of the internet and apps to enter into your environment. This allows users to work spatially, browsing the web, creating to do lists, send messages, and more. A brand-new app store will launch with the product, hopefully ensuring a community will emerge to create content best suited for the mixed reality space. Breaking down the barriers to full immersion, the new release will not rely on the usual handset or joy stick pieces used in Meta’s products but instead will be entirely controlled by voice, look, and hands.

With an initial price tag of $3,499, it seems that the initial application of the technology will be predominately in business environments. However, there are uses for the consumer, once it is able to be adopted. The headset will allow for a remarkable movie and media watching experience with the equivalent of a 4K TV for each eye and Disney+ being available from day 1; Apple promises to create the ultimate personal theatre experience. The Vision Pro is also Apple’s first 3D camera, capable of incorporating spatial audio and leading depth cues into the medium.

The technology will be available next year, only in the United States at first before being rolled out to other countries.

What is the impact of the technology?

Initially, the technology will be simply a machine of intrigue and hype. Owing to its high price tag, Apple will not see an immediate takeover of the market. It is easy to suggest, especially with the name Vision Pro, that a standard Vision product, complete with a more approachable price (likely still beyond competitor’s) will be released within the coming years. In the meantime, this initially high profile product will have to lay the groundwork for the untested app store and prove to potential users that this offers something more than simply better graphics and ridding of some of the annoyances that plague the headset world.

With new Vision Pro, the best hardware device manufacturer in the world, is opening a new category of immersive 3-D experiences, smoothly integrated with reality

Danny Lein, Twipe Founder and CEO

That being said, Apple has built itself on the reputation of changing the game and elevating existing product areas into a completely different category. Borrowing from Nicholas Thompson, this seems to be the premier with the most ambiguity as to its potential. Will this revolutionise the technology and, as a result, the world in which we live and interact? Will it grow to such a behemoth, ushering in an era of wearable technology that transforms the world into a much more obviously integrated space with technology? Or, will it simply be an upgrade to a realm that never really became what it could have been?

We expect that a major feature of the high price tag will be to get the product exclusively in the hands of those who understand it and to allow developers and the community to build the ecosystem of apps within the technology before the masses are able to bring it home. For the average person, their first encounter with the innovative headset will be in one of Apple’s 520 stores around the world, creating a controlled experience for those interested while giving them a glimpse into its capabilities.

What will this mean for publishers?

For publishers, this may present a new way of interacting with the news and media generally. The world of AR and VR can have significant opportunity for publishers. A completely engrossing media experience is what is being sold, news coverage will likely need to follow suit.

Additionally, the way news is typically read on the small screens of phones will be given the opportunity to take over an individual’s entire field of vision, making for a less laboured experience. Having said that, it’s unlikely we’ll see anybody but the largest global publishers (and certainly Apple News) experimenting with the technology in the short term.

Sofie Hvitved of the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies showed the below video at last year’s Twipe Digital Growth Summit. It seems more timely than ever as it shows the immense capabilities of augmented reality.

Video Credit: Adobe, Sofie Hvitved

To hear it in the words of Twipe founder and CEO Danny Lein:

“For the news industry this offers interesting prospects of bringing more immersive stories using AR or 360. As the device will not be broadly adopted in the early days, this will most likely only be applicable for a limited number of news brands with strong presence amongst the early tech adopters.

We expect brands like Wired or The New York Times to be amongst the early explorers of applications within this new category. If the device gets more broader adoption, other news publishers can be expected to follow suit.”

Without question, this is a space to watch.

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