Apple has unveiled its highly anticipated Vision Pro AR/VR headset at its WWDC developer conference. The headset is a sleek, futuristic device that resembles a pair of high-tech ski goggles. The company spent a considerable amount of time detailing how the hardware works and how it is meant to be used.
According to reports, the Vision Pro headset is a vastly improved device compared to other AR or VR headsets on the market. The headset is relatively thin, and most of its size and heft come from the fabric shield and plushy band around the back. The device is a nice silvery color, with a cable coming out of the left side and an iPhone-sized battery pack at the bottom that provides two hours of battery life.
The Vision Pro’s built-in audio resides on the small bumps on the sides of the device’s band. Spatial audio is one of the device’s main selling points. Most of its other sensors and cameras are housed just under the front-facing glass. A cheese grater-style vent runs underneath both eyes, presumably to push all the processor’s hot air down onto the cheeks.
The front-facing display of the Vision Pro gently pulses with light, indicating someone is in the headset but cannot see out. Wearers’ eyes are projected through that front screen in the other view, which will be innovative or horrifying.
The big question is how it feels in use. Apple claims that the Vision Pro can replace your television or computer monitor. However, doing that well on your face requires a huge amount of processing power and display prowess. Even the 4K displays announced by Apple might not be enough.
Unlike when Apple launched the Apple Watch or even AirPods, there is no existing market for mixed reality devices. The market has only a few barely successful prototypes like Microsoft’s HoloLens and the Magic Leap. Most people have little or no idea how these headsets work.
Ultimately, the device’s software and user interface will be more important than the gadget itself. Based on a brief hands-on experience at Apple Park, the Vision Pro’s hardware appears to be a strong start.