The long wait for a mixed reality headset from Apple will soon be over with the recent launch of Apple Vision Pro. Earlier this month, Apple unveiled its highly anticipated XR headset at the WWDC 2023 event. The Apple Vision Pro is set to hit US Apple stores in early 2024.
Being the first major hardware launch of Apple after almost a decade, the Vision Pro is expected to be received with great enthusiasm. While it’s an undoubtedly powerful device packed with state-of-the-art features, the question remains: Is the Apple Vision Pro truly ready for mainstream use?
To delve deeper into how this development impacts the future of XR, we asked some experts to share their insights on Apple Vision Pro.
Apple Vision Pro: Pushing the Boundaries of Mixed Reality Technology
Compared with other available AR and MR headsets, Apple Vision Pro has raised the bar in several aspects. For Dominik Angerer, CEO of headless CMS Storyblok, this launch could potentially be another “‘iPhone moment’ for Apple, pushing the boundaries of how we perceive and interact with digital content.”
Nathan Robinson, CEO of Gemba, finds the technology sleek, responsive, comfortable, and highly performant. According to him, Apple’s user-centric design philosophy is evident in the Vision Pro’s external battery pack, wide articulated headband, and visual passthrough capabilities—all ensuring comfort and convenience even for extended use.
Michael Hoffman, Mesmerise Head of Platform and CEO of IQXR, also highlights the unparalleled ergonomics of the Vision Pro. For him, the Fit Dial that enables adjustment for a precise fit, the Light Seal that creates a tight yet comfortable fit, and multiple size options will all be crucial to the success of the product.
Performance-wise, experts agree that Vision Pro is powerful. Emma Ridderstad, CEO of Warpin Reality, believes that the use of two chips, R1 and M2, will improve real-time processing, reducing the amount of lag time experienced while using the headset.
However, some experts aren’t that impressed. Eric Alexander, founder and CEO of Soundscape VR, thinks that the Vision Pro is strong for a mobile headset but still pales in comparison to PC VR. “The sprawling, highly-detailed, 3D rendered worlds we build here at Soundscape won’t be possible on the Vision Pro yet as their M2 chip has less than 10% of the rendering horsepower of an Nvidia GPU,” he told us.
For Joseph Toma, CEO of the virtual meetings and events platform Jugo, the Vision Pro’s hardware can be overkill, no matter how powerful it is. He notes that advances in spatial AI, augmented reality, and mixed reality AI make bulky hardware unnecessary. “Apple’s Vision Pro may not be the product that ushers in this new era. While the tech is great, the future is about building something that includes everyone and can deliver mixed reality experiences without the constraints of bulky hardware,” Toma said.
Is the Apple Vision Pro Truly Ready for Mainstream Use?
While the Apple Vision Pro represents a significant leap forward in mixed reality technology, experts have varying opinions on its readiness for mainstream adoption.
Some argue that its current price point and the need for continuous advancements in software and content might limit its appeal. Others point out that existing platforms already offer immersive experiences without the need for bulky hardware, and Apple might face challenges in convincing the masses to invest in the Vision Pro.
Retailing at $3,499, the cost of the Apple Vision Pro is several times over the $499 price tag of the Meta Quest 3. For Robinson, this prohibitive price will be a large contributing factor to a slow adoption curve. However, he believes as the price falls and the number of applications grows over time, this technology will gain a much wider audience.
While Hoffman also sees the need for more cost-effective options, he believes that Vision Pro is ready for mainstream adoption. “Vision Pro is absolutely ready for mainstream adoption, especially because it’s made by Apple,” he said. “Once Apple launches a product, users typically flock to it.”
Still, some experts believe that Vision Pro isn’t ready for mainstream adoption yet. While initially impressed with the headset, Ridderstad noticed features that were centered around “looking and clicking” rather than 3D VR interactions. “I do think that Vision Pro won’t be ready for mainstream adoption until there’s been a few iterations of the headset,” she told us. “We’ll need to see some evolution from Apple in order to make mixed reality truly mainstream.”
For Alexander, the mainstream adoption of Vision Pro is still a few years out. Although he doesn’t see the price point being a hindrance to adoption, he believes that developers need time to build compelling apps that give people something to do on these devices outside of the novelty factor.
Toma, sharing a similar sentiment, said that, even though “the merging of the tangible and virtual worlds is an impending reality,” we’re still far from seeing these tools adopted on a massive scale by consumers and businesses. “The Vision Pro’s success depends on whether consumers will embrace a bulky, expensive piece of hardware they don’t need for the immersive experience Apple is promoting,” he said.
However, as Angerer points out, “Every technological leap comes with its share of skepticism.” While he understands why there are those who argue that Apple’s headset is not ready for mainstream adoption because of its size, he believes it’s important to remember that Apple has consistently placed high importance on balancing aesthetics with practicality. “Existing platforms may offer similar experiences, but Apple’s unique selling proposition often lies in its seamless user experience and integration across devices, which could give Vision Pro an edge,” he said.
Reshaping Industries: Applications of Apple Vision Pro and Other MR Headsets
Regardless of their readiness for mainstream use, mixed reality headsets like the Apple Vision Pro have the potential to transform various industries. Experts foresee numerous applications in fields such as healthcare, education, architecture, and entertainment.
In healthcare, for instance, mixed reality can aid in surgical simulations and remote medical consultations. In education, immersive learning experiences can enhance student engagement and comprehension. Architects can utilize mixed reality to visualize designs in real-world environments, while the entertainment industry can create entirely new levels of interactive experiences for consumers.
According to Hoffman, Vision Pro will be a game changer that unlocks high-value enterprise use cases. “Collaboration is essential for most scenarios that merge the physical and virtual. To be viable, eye contact is key for co-located participants, and faithfully conveying gaze and facial expressions is key for remote participants,” he explained. “Apple masterfully tackles both, making it possible to collaborate with any combination of co-located and remote participants where everyone wears a device. This combining of the physical and virtual worlds is critical for so many scenarios: task guidance, IoT digital twins, skills training, AI-enhanced inspections, augmented surgery, logistics, and space planning.”
A Promising Outlook for Apple Vision Pro and Mixed Reality Technology
As industry experts have highlighted, factors such as pricing, content availability, and competing platforms could influence its widespread acceptance. Nonetheless, Vision Pro and other mixed reality headsets are set to reshape industries and open new possibilities. The future of mixed reality holds immense promise with continued advancements and a growing ecosystem, and the Apple Vision Pro stands at the forefront of this transformative journey.