Apple Enters Virtual Reality Race, Launches ‘Vision Pro’
By Movieguide® Contributor
Apple announced its augmented/virtual reality headset, Vision Pro, during its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on Monday.
“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,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said. “It unlocks incredible experiences for out users and exciting new opportunities for our developers.”
The headset will start at $3,499 and will release in the U.S. in early 2024. The Vision Pro runs on a new operating system, VisionOS, which Apple says was “designed from the ground up to support the low-latency requirements of spatial computing.” The headset has been in development for seven years.
Apple’s launch into VR and AR marks the first new product category that Apple has entered since the launch of the Apple Watch in 2015. During the launch, the tech giant presented the headset as a watershed moment in VR like the iPhone was for smartphones. The company expects to sell 900,000 units in its first year.
The Vision Pro is controlled solely with eye movements and hand movements, along with voice inputs. To help onlookers know if the user is in augmented or virtual reality, the system uses a feature that Apple calls EyeSight. When a user is in augmented reality, the headset will show other people the user’s eye, while if the user is in virtual reality, the screen will be opaque. The headset provides ultra-high resolution, with more pixels for each eye than a 4K TV, and includes a specially designed special-audio system.
To ensure the product can be an immediate success, Apple gave some developers early access to the Vision Pro to create VisionOS-exclusive apps and games. The headset will also support hundreds of thousands of existing apps and games already available on the app store. Furthermore, the product supports the Unity game engine, allowing developers to bring their products to the headset without having to learn a new coding language.
To help share the immense potential of the Vision Pro, Disney CEO Bob Iger took the stage during the launch saying that the platform will allow his company to create “deeply immersive” stories in ways that were “previously impossible.” Iger’s segment included various concepts that will allow Disney to bring users “real life magic.” Iger also added that Disney+ will be available on the headset from day one.
While Apple is going all on VR and AR, it remains unclear if the product will bring the technology into the mainstream. Although the technology has been around for over a decade, it still remains largely unused. Last year, AR and VR headset sales dropped 21%. Furthermore, Apple’s main competitor in this space, Meta, currently holds roughly 80% market share and their next-generation headset, the Meta Quest 3 also sells for a much more affordable $500.
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