Apple, in a move that challenges Meta, the company behind Facebook, revealed its inaugural mixed reality headset called Vision Pro. This entry into the market, which has yet to attract users beyond gamers and tech enthusiasts, marks Apple’s most significant product launch since the introduction of the Apple Watch in 2015.
The Vision Pro, which received positive feedback on its unveiling day, comes with a hefty price tag of $3,499 (approximately N1.617 million) and will be initially available only in the United States early next year.
During the unveiling event in Cupertino, California, Apple CEO Tim Cook described the VR device as a groundbreaking product that combines performance, immersion, and capabilities unique to Apple.
Referred to as a spatial computer, the Vision Pro was showcased as the highlight of the event, which also featured numerous other product updates. Apple has been working on this device for several years, with a focus on gaming, video streaming, and conferencing.
While Meta Quest and other similar devices prioritize virtual reality, the Vision Pro sets itself apart by emphasizing mixed reality features and ensuring users maintain awareness of their surroundings, as noted by Steve Severinghaus from Insider Intelligence.
Apple aimed to maintain its iconic minimalist design with the Vision Pro, although it had to accommodate the technology packed into the headset. The device features a glass front, an aluminum frame, five sensors, 12 cameras, individual displays for each eye, and a fan-cooled computer.
The Vision Pro is smaller than a scuba diving mask and primarily relies on being connected to a power source to operate, allowing for a sleeker design compared to bulkier headsets. A battery pack, attached via a cord, can be conveniently carried in a pocket but provides a maximum of two hours of usage.
Tech companies have faced challenges in convincing a broader audience to embrace virtual reality headsets due to discomfort and the perception of wearing a mask. To address this, Apple’s version includes internal cameras that project the user’s eyes onto an external screen, creating a more natural and immersive experience. This feature, along with the ability to interact with others, impressed analysts like Carolina Milanesi from Creative Strategies.
Disney partnered with Apple for the launch, and exciting content from popular franchises like Marvel, Star Wars, and live sports was teased to enhance the immersive experience on the Vision Pro. Additionally, Apple announced that over 100 video games would be available upon release.
This release sets Apple on a direct collision course with Meta, which had a head start in the virtual reality realm. Just before Apple’s event, Meta expanded its line of Quest virtual reality headsets, offering a cheaper option. Meta’s journey in the metaverse industry has been turbulent, leading to significant restructuring and a refocus on core social media activities, despite initially emphasizing its metaverse ambitions.