On Monday, Apple introduced Vision Pro, a $3,500 mixed reality headset that they describe as a “spatial computer.” And while we thought AR, VR and the metaverse were very 2022 concepts, the general consensus seems to be that, price aside, Apple created the ideal version of something nobody is quite sure if they want.
It helped that, in addition to a presentation at this year’s WWDC 2023 event, Apple also allowed some journalists about 30 minutes of time with the Vision Pro after each headset was calibrated to the user. According to BGR, that individualizing process entailed a rep from Apple scanning a person’s face (to choose the proper face mask), scanning the ears to customize the spatial audio experience and having an optometrist look at the user’s eyes to determine whether prescription snap-on lenses would be required.
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Even with just a half-hour of use time, first reactions have been, for the most, part positive. Some initial impressions:
“The most impressive thing is the eye-tracking. I’m not even kidding,” says YouTuber Marques Brownlee. “This eye-tracking is sick. So basically, the eye-tracking in this headset, as it looks at your eyes and keeps track of where your eyes move around, is the closest thing that I’ve experienced to magic.”
“I got a few tears in my eyes watching the WWDC reveal of Vision Pro today,” says Joe Michaels, chief revenue officer at HaptX. “It was just beautiful to see how much care and thought they’ve put into this device.”
“I got to try out Apple’s Vision Pro this afternoon. It is by far the best headset out there,” tweeted The Wall Street Journal‘s Joanna Stern, who also added, “But it’s still a headset.”
Other reactions were muted. “Apple’s aluminum goggles look finely engineered, but the examples the company showed of the Vision Pro being used aren’t the types of scenarios where a face computer would be practical or comfortable,” chided Wired. Unsurprisingly, PC World trashed the Vision as a ripoff of the seven-year-old HoloLens.
TechRadar found the camera aspect (and the Vision’s strange display that showcases the wearer’s eyes on an OLED screen) troubling, though conceded, “There’s no doubt that the Apple Vision Pro’s camera is powerful, smart and simplifies 3D spatial imaging, and it could well be the future way that we engage with memories — for those that can afford the headset in the first place.”
Brian Chen at The New York Times also sent a wait-and-see message in his review. “I walked away with mixed feelings, including a nagging sense of skepticism,” he wrote, in spite of recommending it over other headsets from Meta and Sony. “I also felt there wasn’t much new to see here.”
One thing’s for sure: when the Vision Pro goes on sale early next year, not that many people are going to look past that $3,500 price tag.
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