Virtual reality (VR) isn’t mainstream in a way companies pushing the technology have hoped.
The technology can transport you to places and allow you to experience what’s nearly impossible to visit in real life — the International Space Station, the depths of the ocean, the ruins of Peru’s Machu Picchu. But prices are high, setting the device up is difficult, and killer app titles are few.
The biggest barrier: wearing a dorky headset around your noggin. It may not fit well or feel good. Some people get nauseated.
These are the challenges for Apple’s Vision Pro goggles unveiled June 5 at the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). The device goes on sale in 2024.
As with the Quest VR headsets from Facebook parent Meta, the company dominating alternate reality products, Apple must persuade people to wear a contraption around their face. What’s more, with a starting price of $3,499, buying a Vision Pro may feel like purchasing a Lamborghini. That’s more than triple the price of Meta’s top-of-the-line Quest Pro headset.
Newest device mixes virtual, augmented reality
Apple is positioning Vision Pro as a first-of-its-kind “spatial computer,” for both the workplace and watching the latest installment of Avatar in 3D projected on a virtual 100-foot 4K screen in your living room. That was part of the demonstration I had at the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters.
The product mixes VR, where the outside world is almost completely shut out, and augmented reality (AR), allowing digital objects to appear in and around your real surroundings. It’s what some call mixed reality.
Vision Pro has its own operating system, called visionOS, and will have its own app store. During keynote remarks at the developers conference, Apple chief executive Tim Cook described Vision Pro as “the first Apple product you look through and not at.”
The hype around Vision Pro evokes memories of Apple’s original 2007 iPhone, which like this product reveal came months before anyone could buy the device. That initial iPhone was expensive, too.