Apple Unveils Vision Pro Virtual Reality Headset, Its First Major Device Launch In Nearly A Decade

Apple Vision Pro

Apple

Apple has entered the virtual reality arena, announcing a long-anticipated new headset and augmented reality platform called Vision Pro.

CEO Tim Cook called virtual and augmented reality “profound technology” with “revolutionary” potential during the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference [WWDC]. He said the product followed in the illustrious lineage of the company’s Mac personal computer line and the iPhone. It is the first major new device launch by the company since the Apple Watch nine years ago.

The company said its “spatial computing” system relies on a fluid interface picking up on signals and movements from a user’s eyes and hands as well as Siri voice recognition. Those inputs differ from those of many existing VR setups, which require the use of physical controllers along with headsets.

Innovation comes at a cost with all things Apple, of course. The Vision Pro will retail at $3,499, many times the $499 for Meta’s Quest 3.

Apple’s entry is premised on a unique combination of real-life sights displayed even to users donning a headset, combined with images pulled up from apps or games. Instead of the hermetic experience generally available on headsets today, the tech giant is positioning the Vision Pro as a best-of-all-worlds solution worthy of its eye-watering cost. “Blending digital content with the real world can unlock experiences like nothing we’ve ever seen,” Cook said.

Videos accompanying remarks by Cook and other execs showed use cases like an office worker receiving a note from a colleague, who is fully visible as the full frame width also displays spreadsheets and calendar notifications. In another scene, a videoconference shows video of the speakers alongside a shared presentation deck, with a real-life apartment in the background.

While Sony and a division of ByteDance have mounted serious efforts in VR hardware, Meta Platforms has made the highest-profile bet on the emerging sector. It renamed the company from Facebook to reflect its new strategic focus and has pumped billions of dollars into its Reality Labs unit.

Despite all of the investment, VR and the metaverse have not been unanimously proclaimed as the life-changing evolutionary stage that its boosters see it as. Total sales of headsets in 2022 dropped 21% from 2021, totaling 8.8 million, and fell by more than half in down 20.9% from 2021.

In anticipation of the events onstage, Apple stock hit an all-time high, gaining 2% to just shy of $185 before sinking fractionally into the red as investors digested the day’s news. Shares have risen almost 40% in 2023 to date, several times the increase of the benchmark S&P 500.

While the headset stole the show, Apple revealed a wide range of offerings, from new laptops and AirPods to iOS updates. FaceTime figured prominently, with updates to Apple TV and iOS enabling users to use it on a big screen and leave video voicemail messages.

*** This is an original Deadline article.***

 Author Dade Hayes

 

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Apple Unveils Vision Pro Virtual Reality Headset, Its First Major Device Launch In Nearly A Decade

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