At the last WWDC, Apple revealed their VisionPro – a truly revolutionary mixed-reality headset. We’ve spoken to a lot of people about it since, including those in the AR/VR industry, and they’re excited about what it can do. So are we. Yet, whilst it has its advantages for both business and personal use, we don’t think it’ll become mainstream.
Here, our Managing Director James talks through its benefits and drawbacks, focusing on how it challenges the ‘human’ part of life.
Firstly, the technology is really impressive, enabling spatial computing. It has augmented reality too, which allows it to display virtual elements overlaid on the actual world. Plus, it brings about new opportunities for people to collaborate and work.
Competing devices have special controllers, whereas Apple relies on sensors, which is a definite advantage. You use hand gestures, eye movements and your voice, to control the VisionPro.
There’s also its EyeSight feature, though this is controversial. In simple terms, it shows a ‘full immersion mode’ to hide your eyes when you’re busy. When you’re not, it’ll show a digital version of your eyes – honestly, it’s slightly creepy.
Its FaceTime capabilities are beneficial as you don’t have to hold a device. Though as you’re wearing the headset, it’s different. The other party doesn’t see your actual face. Similar to the EyeSight feature, they’ll see a 3D-rendered model of you that was scanned into the system and it syncs up to your movements through the sensors. In a way, it defeats the object of FaceTime as it loses that personal aspect, rendering it useless in both a business and personal setting.
There are many benefits for personal use, like the ability to form a giant digital screen and block out the actual world with a virtual environment for a true cinematic experience. Though, it can’t be a group experience unless everyone has a VisionPro headset.
As an Apple enthusiast, I love technology. However – and I’m going to be a little self-deprecating here – as a businessman and father in my late 40s, I see constant challenges with how technology impacts our humanity, and the VisionPro really highlights these.
We’re already attached to our mobile phones. More people pick up their smartphones during meetings, for example. So, if wearable technology does become mainstream, will this insulate us further?
There’s a couple of poignant moments in Apple’s VisionPro reveal trailer: when the dad is working and kicks the football, then gives his child some toast, whilst wearing the headset. Arguably, you could say this is no worse than sitting in front of a monitor. However, when my kids interrupt me when I’m working and I tell them I’ll speak to them later, I already feel rude. To pass them some toast or kick a ball, I have to make genuine eye contact. Although the father can see their child, it’s through a VisionPro, and the child only sees their dad’s digital eyes.
Re-living the moment
With the VisionPro, you can record stuff and watch it back, just like you can with a mobile device or GoPro. It’s another way of re-living your memories. Though, it’s not exactly the same – putting on a headset feels way more intrusive.
Technology has already led us down a route where we’re more interested in capturing a moment, than enjoying it. The VisionPro is a step further: do I really want my kids to look back and remember me wearing a headset recording their birthday parties?
When a manufacturer adopts a futuristic styling of a car, it’s hard to absorb – but five years later, it’s the norm. At present, the VisionPro isn’t for the masses.
I’m a former Ski Instructor, and the headset actually reminds me of ski goggles. I can’t imagine people walking around with it on outside of an office environment Maybe it’ll become the status quo – who knows? Personally, I’m not so sure.
What do you think?
It might seem like I’m sitting at the back of a pub, smoking a pipe while I write this piece – but I’m not. I’m on my Mac as usual! I’d love to know your thoughts on whether the VisionPro will become mainstream, and its impact on humanity. Share them here.