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Apple introduces Apple Vision Pro, its first ‘spatial computer,’ at WWDC 2023

Promising to blend the real and the digital world, Apple unveils its VR headset, Vision Pro, with an intuitive, three-dimensional interface, and other groundbreaking features.

by STIRworldPublished on : Jun 06, 2023

Promising extraordinary new experiences across the liminal realm of the ‘phygital,’ Apple’s much anticipated virtual reality headset is here (or has been announced)—exorbitantly priced at US $3,499, the Apple Vision Pro unveiled at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 2023) on June 5, 2023, greets an era of 'spatial computing' to blend digital content with the physical world while allowing its users to remain present and connected to others. According to the tech company, the breakthrough design of the Vision Pro fashions an ‘infinite canvas’ for apps, going beyond the boundaries of the traditional display we are used to. It introduces a fully three-dimensional user interface controlled by the most natural and intuitive inputs possible—the user’s eyes, hands, and voice. “Featuring visionOS, the world’s first spatial operating system, Vision Pro lets users interact with digital content in a way that feels like it is physically present in their space,” reiterates Apple in their press statement. It truly is a fantastic time to be alive.

“Today marks the beginning of a new era for computing. Just as the Mac introduced us to personal computing, and iPhone introduced us to mobile computing, Apple Vision Pro introduces us to spatial computing. Built upon decades of Apple innovation, Vision Pro is years ahead and unlike anything created before—with a revolutionary new input system and thousands of groundbreaking innovations, it unlocks incredible experiences for our users and exciting new opportunities for our developers,” says Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.

Apple Vision Pro was unveiled at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference 2023 (WWDC), greeting an era of ‘spatial computing’ | Apple Vision Pro | Apple | STIRworld
Apple Vision Pro was unveiled at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference 2023 (WWDC), greeting an era of ‘spatial computing’ Image: Courtesy of Apple

Featuring an ultra-high-resolution display system that packs 23 million pixels across two displays, the Vision Pro (resembling ski-goggles), is packed in custom Apple silicon in a distinct dual-chip design, guaranteeing each experience as if it is taking place in front of the user’s eyes in real-time. By transforming and elevating the way users currently interact with their favourite apps, capture, and relive memories, watch TV shows and movies, as well as connect on FaceTime, the controller-free device "brings a new dimension to powerful, personal computing," mentions Apple.

Mike Rockwell, Apple’s vice president of the Technology Development Group, comments on the Vision Pro—“Creating our first spatial computer required invention across nearly every facet of the system. Through a tight integration of hardware and software, we designed a standalone spatial computer in a compact wearable form factor that is the most advanced personal electronics device ever.”

Capable of providing both augmented reality and virtual reality experiences, Vision Pro is replete with a 'revolutionary' operating system 'visionOS,' featuring a three-dimensional user interface, freeing apps from the boundaries of a display screen, appearing side by side at any scale, and materialising right in front of you. With infinite ‘screen real estate,’ the Apple Vision Pro enables users to be even more productive and enable multi-tasking at a heightened scale, with more intuitive access to their favourite apps for work and home. With support for 'Magic Keyboard' and ‘Magic Trackpad,’ users will be able to set up the perfect workspace, by bringing the capabilities of their Mac into Vision Pro wirelessly, “creating an enormous, private, and portable 4K display with incredibly crisp text,” says Apple in a press statement.

Apple Vision Pro comes with a ‘revolutionary’ operating system called visionOS, featuring a three-dimensional user interface | Apple Vision Pro | Apple | STIRworld
Apple Vision Pro comes with a ‘revolutionary’ operating system called visionOS, featuring a three-dimensional user interface Image: Courtesy of Apple

“Built on the foundation of decades of engineering innovation in macOS, iOS, and iPadOS, visionOS was designed from the ground up to support the low-latency requirements of spatial computing. The result is a revolutionary operating system that delivers powerful spatial experiences that can take advantage of the space around the user, unlocking new opportunities at work and at home,” they elaborate.

With the visionOS’s brand new three-dimensional interface, digital content will ‘look and feel present in a user’s physical world,’ as it responds dynamically to natural light, aiding the user to comprehend scale and distance in detail. User navigation and interaction with spatial content have been kept paramount, designed to be as seamless and intuitive as possible, with the industrial design introducing an entirely new input system controlled by a person’s eyes, hands, and voice. Like something out of a Black Mirror episode, users will be able to browse through apps by simply looking at them, tapping their fingers to select, flicking their wrist to scroll or using their voices to dictate commands.

The wearable design introduces a fully three-dimensional user interface controlled by the most natural and intuitive inputs possible-the user’s eyes, hands, and voice | Apple Vision Pro | Apple | STIRworld
The wearable design introduces a fully three-dimensional user interface controlled by the most natural and intuitive inputs possible-the user’s eyes, hands, and voice Image: Courtesy of Apple

The Apple Vision Pro is anchored on enhanced engagement in the ‘phygital’ entertainment space—with two ultra-high-resolution displays, the wearable technology is designed to transmute any space into a personal movie theatre, with a screen that feels almost 30 meters wide, augmented by an advanced 'Spatial Audio' system like no other, empowering users to watch films and TV shows or enjoy stunning three-dimensional movies. “Apple Immersive Video offers 180-degree high-resolution recordings with Spatial Audio, and users can access an exciting lineup of immersive videos that transport them to entirely new places,” shares the American multinational technology company headquartered in Cupertino, California.

Elevating the experiences of digital spaces, the new spatial computing technology makes new types of games possible, spanning a ‘spectrum of immersion’ and bringing gamers into all-new worlds. Users have access to more than 100 Apple Arcade games on a screen as large as they desire, abetted with incredible immersive audio and support for popular game controllers.

Vision Pro also features Apple’s first three-dimensional camera, encouraging users to ‘capture, relive, and immerse themselves in favourite memories with Spatial Audio.’ “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 with brilliant colour and spectacular detail. Every Panorama shot on iPhone expands and wraps around the user, creating the sensation they are standing right where it was taken,” explains Apple.

A single piece of three-dimensionally formed laminated glass will perform as a lens for the wide array of cameras and sensors, extending into the custom aluminium alloy frame | Apple Vision Pro | Apple | STIRworld
A single piece of three-dimensionally formed laminated glass will perform as a lens for the wide array of cameras and sensors, extending into the custom aluminium alloy frame Image: Courtesy of Apple

Apple’s latest immersive design also attests to the growing digital world, where FaceTime calls materialise inside and around the user’s room, with people on the call reflected in life-size tiles. Amplified by Spatial Audio, the participants on call are promised to sound ultra-realistic. Apple explains further—"Users wearing Vision Pro during a FaceTime call are reflected as a Persona—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.”

Apple Vision Pro also features ‘EyeSight,’ “an extraordinary innovation in the digital technology space, that helps users stay connected with those around them. When a person approaches someone wearing Vision Pro, the device feels transparent—letting the user see them while also displaying the user’s eyes. When a user is immersed in an environment or using an app, ‘EyeSight’ gives visual cues to others about what the user is focused on. (Additionally), with ‘Environments,’ a user’s world can grow beyond the dimensions of a physical room with dynamic, beautiful landscapes that 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,” shares Apple, leading the world in technological innovation with iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV.

Apple Vision Pro’s ‘Light Seal’ is made of a ‘soft textile,’ and comes in a range of shapes and sizes, adapting to conform to a user’s face for an optimised, precise fit | Apple Vision Pro | Apple | STIRworld
Apple Vision Pro’s ‘Light Seal’ is made of a ‘soft textile,’ and comes in a range of shapes and sizes, adapting to conform to a user’s face for an optimised, precise fit Image: Courtesy of Apple

Designed bespoke for the digital age, Apple Vision Pro stands on the shoulders of giants, building on Apple’s own innovations and experiences of conceiving high-performance products like the Mac, iPhone, and wearables such as the Apple Watch, resulting in their most advanced, personal electronics device ever. To achieve ambitious goals for performance, mobility, and wearability, the company employed the most advanced materials possible, using an astonishing amount of technology within the compact design of the Apple Vision Pro.

According to Apple, a single piece of three-dimensionally formed laminated glass was polished to create an optical surface that can perform as a lens for the wide array of cameras and sensors needed to blend the physical world with digital content. This glass extends into the custom aluminium alloy frame of the wearable design, gently curves around the user’s face, while a modular system allows for a tailored fit to accommodate a wide range of people.

The product design’s ‘Light Seal’ is made of a ‘soft textile,’ and comes in a range of shapes and sizes, adapting to conform to a user’s face for an optimised, precise fit. Flexible straps ensure that audio remains close to the user’s ears, while a Head Band available in multiple sizes, is three-dimensionally knitted as a solo piece to provide cushioning, breathability, and stretch, and is secured with a simple mechanism, making it easy to change to another size or style of band.

A Head Band is three-dimensionally knitted as a solo piece to provide cushioning, breathability, and stretch for users | Apple Vision Pro | Apple | STIRworld
A Head Band is three-dimensionally knitted as a solo piece to provide cushioning, breathability, and stretch for users Image: Courtesy of Apple

Apple’s unrivalled innovation in hardware is hardly unknown-their latest endeavour is designed to ‘deliver phenomenal compute performance in a compact wearable form factor.’ “Featuring a breakthrough ultra-high-resolution display system built on top of an Apple silicon chip, Vision Pro uses micro-OLED technology to pack 23 million pixels into two displays, each the size of a postage stamp, with wide colour and high dynamic range. This technological breakthrough, combined with custom catadioptric lenses that enable incredible sharpness and clarity, delivers jaw-dropping experiences. Users with vision correction needs will use ZEISS Optical Inserts to ensure visual fidelity and eye-tracking accuracy,” elaborates the tech giant founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne.

At the core of the Apple Vision Pro experience is the advanced ‘Spatial Audio’ system that creates a feeling “that sounds are coming from the environment around the user and matching the sound to the space. Two individually amplified drivers inside each audio pod deliver ‘Personalised Spatial Audio’ based on the user’s own head and ear geometry. In addition to creating a breakthrough display and advanced audio experiences, the high-performance eye tracking system in Apple Vision Pro uses high-speed cameras and a ring of LEDs that project invisible light patterns onto the user’s eyes for responsive, intuitive input,” they continue.

The groundbreaking innovations articulating the Apple Vision Pro are powered by Apple silicon, in a unique dual-chip design. M2 delivers unmatched standalone performance, while the new R1 chip processes input from 12 cameras, five sensors, and six microphones “to ensure that content feels like it is appearing right in front of the user’s eyes, in real-time,” Apple relays. R1 streams new images to the displays within 12 milliseconds—'8x faster than the blink of an eye.’ Apple Vision Pro is also designed for use all-day when plugged in and can be in use for up to two hours with its external, high-performance battery.

With the visionOS’s brand new three-dimensional interface, digital content will ‘look and feel present in a user’s physical world | Apple Vision Pro | Apple | STIRworld
With the visionOS’s brand new three-dimensional interface, digital content will ‘look and feel present in a user’s physical world Image: Courtesy of Apple

Ensuring industry-leading privacy and security, Apple relays that Vision Pro “is built on a strong foundation of privacy and security, and keeps users in control of their data. Optic ID is a new secure authentication system that analyses a user’s iris under various invisible LED light exposures and then compares it to the enrolled Optic ID data that is protected by the Secure Enclave to instantly unlock Apple Vision Pro. A user’s Optic ID data is fully encrypted, is not accessible to apps, and never leaves their device, meaning it is not stored on Apple servers. Where a user looks stays private while navigating Apple Vision Pro, and eye tracking information is not shared with Apple, third-party apps, or websites. Additionally, data from the camera and other sensors is processed at the system level, so individual apps do not need to see a user’s surroundings to enable spatial experiences. EyeSight also includes a visual indicator that makes it clear to others when a user is capturing a spatial photo or video.”

The long-awaited mixed reality headset by Apple is bringing us closer to the dystopian future we have imagined numerous times. As Apple's CEO Tim Cook says, "It’s the first Apple product you look through and not at,” Apple’s newest wearable technology is stepping confidently into the next chapter of personal technology space, that defining a digital era. The smart goggles have the audience in a chokehold, gesturing towards a mighty shift in the way we interact with Apple products and the mixed reality we are delving into, taking over how we manifest technology with immersive reality designs. Apple Vision Pro is yet to prove its mettle (especially at the price range it comes in), but hopes remain at an all-time high.

Apple Vision Pro will be available from early next year on apple.com and at Apple Store locations in the US, with more countries coming later next year.

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