Apple Unveils $3,500 Vision Pro VR Headset: Will It Propel Virtual Reality into the Mainstream or Remain a High-Priced Tech Toy?

Apple has finally lifted the veil on its highly anticipated virtual reality (VR) headset called Vision Pro. With a price starting at $3,499, the headset promises to unlock a universe of immersive virtual- and augmented-reality experiences.

The Vision Pro will hit the market in early 2024, initially in the United States, with availability in other countries to follow later in the year. Apple announced the long-awaited headset on Monday at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) held in Cupertino, California.

CEO Tim Cook expressed his belief in the transformative power of augmented reality (AR), stating that Vision Pro will introduce users to new forms of “spatial computing.” He drew parallels to the game-changing impact of the iPhone, asserting that the headset will revolutionize the way people interact with technology.

Cook emphasized the innovative nature of Vision Pro, attributing it to decades of Apple’s groundbreaking research and development. He described the headset as a gateway to incredible user experiences and exciting opportunities for developers.

Disney CEO Bob Iger made a special appearance during Apple’s Vision Pro launch, praising the platform as “revolutionary” and capable of enabling Disney to create deeply immersive stories that were previously unimaginable. A glimpse of the concepts Disney is working on for the device was showcased, aiming to bring real-life magic to users. Iger also announced that Disney+ will be available on Vision Pro from day one.

Apple’s Vision Pro sets itself apart by utilizing eye movements, hand movements, and voice input for navigation, eliminating the need for external controllers. The headset features an innovative input system called EyeSight, allowing wearers in augmented-reality mode to maintain eye contact with others, promoting connection. When in fully immersive VR mode, the screen turns opaque to the outside world. Vision Pro also incorporates Apple’s first 3D camera for capturing spatial video and photos. Additionally, it serves as a personal movie theater, providing a cinematic experience with a screen that feels “100 feet wide,” supporting Apple TV+, Apple Arcade games (over 100 titles at launch), and other Apple services.

The Vision Pro boasts ultra-high resolution, surpassing that of a 4K TV, with 23 million pixels across two displays. Apple has also introduced a newly designed spatial-audio system, further enhancing the immersive experience. According to the company, Vision Pro will transform the way users interact with their favorite apps, capture and relive memories, enjoy stunning TV shows and movies, and connect with others via FaceTime.

Despite Apple’s ambitious efforts, the question remains whether this long-anticipated VR headset can successfully establish virtual reality as a mainstream technology. Despite Apple’s significant investment and renowned brand, some may perceive Vision Pro as a high-priced tech toy.

Apple has been working on VR and mixed-reality headsets for seven years, making it the company’s first new product category since the Apple Watch’s introduction in 2015. Bloomberg reported that Apple projected to sell 900,000 VR headsets in the first year.

The Vision Pro runs on visionOS, an operating system developed specifically to support the low-latency requirements of spatial computing. Apple granted select developers early access to Vision Pro, enabling them to create apps for the headset, including Microsoft’s Word and Excel, as well as the Sky Guide planetarium app. At launch, Vision Pro will support hundreds of thousands of existing iPhone and iPad apps. Furthermore, Apple has partnered with the Unity game engine, enabling developers to bring their 3D apps created with Unity to the platform.

The design of Vision Pro features a single piece of 3D-formed laminated glass, serving as an optical surface for the cameras and sensors. This glass is connected to an aluminum alloy frame that delicately wraps

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