Later this year
History is littered with doomed face computers. Google Glass, Microsoft HoloLens, and even Meta’s Quest line all failed to catch fire. Now, it’s Apple’s turn to try.
Later this year, Apple plans to start shipping its new Vision Pro, the company’s first mixed-reality headset. Its commercial success is very much an open question, but the Vision Pro is no doubt a breakthrough device, with a display radically better than any that has come before.
Apple revealed the headset (which it calls a spatial computer) in June at its annual developers’ event, pitching it as a better way to watch films, experience photos, connect with others, and even read and create.
Unlike virtual reality, mixed reality overlays digital content onto your real-world surroundings. Cameras and sensors embedded in the headset take what’s going on around you in a room and re-create it on a pair of screens—one for each eye. Then the headset adds in whatever digital content you’ve selected—a surfing video, for example, virtually projected right in front of your actual couch.
The Vision Pro’s twin micro-OLED displays provide much higher resolution and sharper contrast than the liquid crystal displays found in most VR headsets—which means in addition to delivering mixed reality, the headset can also provide the most fully immersive experience we’ve ever seen.
One big remaining question: What will people use it for? Apple has a suite of apps at the ready, and developers can create their own, but will it mostly be a fancy video viewer? Another: Will people actually wear it? Apple added virtual eyes to the front to show where the wearer is looking, but at the June event it only shared videos of people wearing the headsets. How good or weird will those virtual eyes look in person? And at $3,499, the Vision Pro will cost thousands of dollars more than other headsets.
That said, no other company has been as successful at developing and marketing consumer technology over the years. Apple’s investment may give mixed reality its best chance yet to catch on.
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