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Apple’s Vision

Let's discuss the vision in Apple Vision Pro, and what this product represents.

Looking to the future #

Imagine we could make use of technology without being bound by screens. All while living our day to day lives. Seamlessly blending the virtual with reality.

This is what AR (augmented reality) promises, and we are not there yet. Camera and screen technology is only now reaching a level where we can present our surroundings at a high enough fidelity to be considered AR, and even then the headsets are bulky and not the most comfortable experience.

The vision of AR is that technology will enable a seamless integration of our computing lives with the real world around us. I think this headset from Apple is a step toward making it a reality.

Simulations in simulations #

When we build apps on our computers using Xcode's simulator, it simulates the experience of how the app would look in Vision Pro. This allows us to have some idea of what it will be like when the app is used by a user on the device.

I see the Vision Pro headset as a simulator for what a truly augmented reality would look like. Just as the simulator on Xcode is a two-dimensional proxy to the real thing, this headset from Apple uses cameras (and some clever algorithms) to represent what we'd see without any headset. It then adds the our apps and content, as if they were in the real world around us.

This differs from other headsets whose purpose was virtual environments. These devices purpose is to take the user into a new space and present all-encompassing 3D experiences. These are great and have many uses, but I don't think VR (virtual reality) is Apple's primary goal.

The lack of emphasis on games is an example. Until now, the primary goal of VR headsets has been gaming and socialising within virtual worlds.

Vision Pro is more about presenting us with our own world, which is then augmented.

A platform for experimentation and learning #

I think Apple is trying to make a very good headset that will be fantastic for both VR and AR experiences. Apple wants people to be able to step away from their world into entirely new spaces, but I don't think VR is the whole game. This is a new platform in which we can work out what works or doesn't work in a platform that aims to ground us in our own world.

Just as the original iPhone emphasised touch as an input, this headset will encourage developers to experiment with controller-free eye tracking and hand tracking. It will allow us to build applications that explode out of the bounds of the screens, and make use of the infinite canvas all around.

It will allow us to work toward a future of computing in which we remain better connected to our environment and those around us while also enjoying all the benefits our technology offers.

A first step #

Many commenters have suggested that this is a beta test of a product, or an prototype, and in a sense I agree. This headset is a bulky, power-hungry device that is not something many people will want to wear all day.

For that reason I see this as the first step toward a new approach to human-computer interation. It's not there yet, but this is glimpse of how it could be.