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Apple Unveils Vision Pro Augmented Reality Headset at WWDC23

Apple Vision Pro looks like an Augmented Reality Headset, but it packs in a whole lot more. Will consumers bite at $3,499? We’re not so sure.

Apple Vision Pro Headset Front

Will Apple’s WWDC23 be remembered for the introduction of the new 15‑inch MacBook Air with M2, Mac Studio with M2 Max and M2 Ultra, and Mac Pro with M2 Ultra? Or will the first demonstrations of iOS 17, iPadOS 17, macOS Sonoma, and watchOS 10 excite the masses? None of that compared to the media frenzy surrounding the Apple Vision Pro AR Headset.

The otherwise unexciting WWDC keynote presentation featured the aforementioned new products, new features, and capabilities for some current products, but saved the best for last with its Vision Pro Spatial Computer.

A first glance, Apple Vision Pro looks a lot like other AR/VR headsets on the market, but upon a closer look, it is what’s inside the headset that sets it apart.

Woman wearing Apple Vision Pro Front Facing

visionOS

Just as there is MacOS, iOS, tvOS, iPadOS, and watchOS, the core of the Vision Pro is the visionOS spatial operating system. visionOS is the foundation that enables users to interact with digital content via a 3D interface as if it is physically present in real space.

When you look through the screen panels — apps, Safari search pages, images, and more seem to float in space.

Web browsing with Apple Vision Pro Simulation

Visual Input

To enable user navigation and interaction with spatial content, Apple’s Vision Pro has a new input system controlled by a person’s eyes, hands, and voice. Users can browse through apps by simply looking at them, tapping their fingers to select, flicking their wrist to scroll, or using voice to dictate. 

Vision Pro at Home

Apple Vision Pro enables users to be more productive. Since there are no physical display limitations, users can display images, apps, etc… any size, and in any arrangement they want according to their field of vision. Users can also display multiple apps, images, and even movies over a wide area facilitating more efficient multi-tasking.  

Productivity with Apple Vision Pro Simulation

With Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad, users can set up the perfect workspace or bring the powerful capabilities of their Mac into Vision Pro wirelessly, creating a large, private, and portable 4K display.

Entertainment

Apple Vision Pro can transform any space into a personal movie theater with a screen that feels 100 (or more) inches wide. Users can watch movies and TV shows, or enjoy 3D movies. Apple Immersive Video offers 180-degree high-resolution recordings with Spatial Audio, and users can access immersive videos that transport them to new places.

Tip: Disney is partnering with Apple to provide entertainment content that takes advantage of Vision Pro’s capabilities. 

Gaming

visionOS spatial computing provides the ability for new types of games that can span a spectrum of immersion and bring gamers into new gaming environments. Users can also play over 100 Apple Arcade games on a screen as large as they want, with immersive audio and support for popular game controllers.

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Man watching movie with Apple Vision Pro Simulation

Access Immersive Environments 

With the Environments feature, users can display images beyond the dimensions of a physical room. Dynamic, beautiful landscapes can help them focus or reduce clutter in busy spaces. A twist of the Digital Crown lets a user control how present or immersed they are in an environment. 

Apple Vision Pro Headset Digital Crown

Relive Memories 

Featuring Apple’s first three-dimensional camera, Apple Vision Pro lets users capture, relive, and immerse themselves in favorite memories with Spatial Audio. 

3D video viewing and recording with Apple Vision Pro

Every spatial photo and video transports users back to a moment in time, like a celebration with friends or a special family gathering. Users can access their entire photo library on iCloud, and view their photos and videos at a life-size scale.

Panoramic images shot on an iPhone can expand and wrap around the user, recreating the feeling of being there.

Facetime 

FaceTime group video call with Apple Vision Pro Simulation

With Apple Vision Pro, FaceTime calls take advantage of the room around the user, with everyone on the call reflected in life-size tiles, as well as Spatial Audio, so it sounds as if participants are speaking right from where they are positioned. Users wearing Vision Pro during a FaceTime call are reflected as a Persona. This is a digital representation of themselves created using Apple’s most advanced machine learning techniques — which reflects face and hand movements in real-time. Users can do things together like watch a movie, browse photos, or collaborate on a presentation.

New App Store

Apple Store with Web browsing with Apple Vision Pro Simulation

Apple Vision Pro will have an all-new App Store where users can discover apps and content from developers, and access hundreds of thousands of familiar iPhone and iPad apps that run great and automatically work with the new input system for Vision Pro. Apple’s developer community can go even further and take advantage of the powerful and unique capabilities of Vision Pro and vision OS to design new app experiences and reimagine existing ones for spatial computing.

Display Technology

Lenses inside Apple Vision Pro Simulation

The Vision Pro features transparent Micro OLED panels that you look through. The panels are made up of microscopic self-emitting organic OLED pixels that are much smaller than those made for OLED TVs (also smaller than those used in iPhones) and placed on a silicon wafer rather than a large screen panel. This allows for high-resolution screens that are very small, such as in the case of Apple’s Vision Pro headset. As a result, the viewer doesn’t see, or get distracted, by the actual pixels that are noticeable on many VR headset displays.

To display 4K resolution, a screen has to display about 8 million pixels. However, the Vision Pro takes it up a notch with a total of 23 million pixels (11,500,000 for each eye). This means that the Vision Pro can not only display 4K resolution but there is room to expand its display capabilities to 8K if Apple decides to do that in the future.

Tip: Micro OLED is not the same as MicroLED which uses non-organic microscopic size non-organic LED lightbulbs as the pixels. It is reported that the micro OLED panels used in the Apple Vision Pro are made by Sony.

Audio 

The Visio Pro incorporates dual-driver audio pods for each ear that provide personalized sound while letting you hear what’s around you. Ambient Spatial Audio makes sounds feel like they’re coming from your surroundings. And with audio raytracing, Vision Pro analyzes your room’s acoustic properties — including the physical materials — to adapt and match the sound to your space.

Eye Tracking

Eye tracking with Apple Vision Pro Interior

The Vision Pro incorporates a high-performance eye-tracking system. Using LEDs and infrared cameras, invisible light patterns are projected onto each eye. This provides precise input without the need to use hand controllers – you can select the things you want to use by looking at them.

Sensor Array

A pair of high-resolution cameras transmit over one billion pixels per second to the displays so you can see the world around you clearly. The system also helps deliver precise head and hand tracking and real‑time 3D mapping, all while understanding your hand gestures from a wide range of positions.

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Dual Chips

Apple M2 and R2 chips inside Apple Vision Pro

The Vision Pro incorporates a dual‑chips to optimize spatial experiences. An M2 chip simultaneously runs visionOS, executes advanced computer vision algorithms, and delivers graphics, efficiently while an R1 chip is specifically dedicated to processing input from the cameras, sensors, and microphones, streaming images to the displays within 12 milliseconds — for a virtually lag-free, real-time view of the world.

Headset Construction

Apple Vision Pro Headset with Battery Pack

Enclosure:  The Vision Pro incorporates a single piece of 3D-formed laminated glass that flows into an aluminum alloy frame that curves to wrap around your face.

Light Seal. The Light Seal flexes to conform to your face. This provides a precise fit while blocking out stray light.

Head Band. The Head Band provides cushioning, breathability, and stretch. A Fit Dial provides further adjustment so that the Vision Pro fits precisely to your head. 

Power. The Vision Pro includes an external battery that supports up to 2 hours of use, and all‑day use when plugged in.

Tip: The above is just the tip of the iceberg, to dig deeper, check out the comprehensive Apple Vision Pro Promo Video.

Price and Availability

Apple Vision Pro starts at $3,499 (U.S.) and will be available early next year (2024) on apple.com and at Apple Store locations in the U.S., with more countries coming later next year. 

Update 7/4/2023: Apple has indicated that it will not produce as many Vision Pros for 2024 as previously projected due to Sony not being able to supply enough Micro OLED displays.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. ORT

    June 6, 2023 at 3:06 pm

    To quote the prognosticator of prognosticators, Bill The Cat of Bloom County fame, “ACK!”.

    Just when I thought Dyson and their air purifier headphones were the last word in things no one axed for, fApple comes out with this.

    If there exists the “Multiverse” then this thing is without a doubt the “multiworst” in all of ’em.

    ORT

    • Ian White

      June 6, 2023 at 5:06 pm

      ORT,

      Even the porn industry was at a loss for words. And that’s saying something.

      Ian White

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