Vision Pro: Apple unveils long-awaited AR headset

Futuristic goggles cost from $3,499

Apple chief executive Tim Cook speaks during Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference at the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California, on June 5. Reuters
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Apple on Monday unveiled its long-awaited augmented-reality headset Vision Pro, the company's first major product debut since the Apple Watch in 2015, with prices from $3,499.

“It’s the first Apple product you look through and not at,” chief executive Tim Cook said during the presentation at the Worldwide Developers Conference in Cupertino, California. “This marks the beginning of a journey.”

The headset is the latest of Apple’s “next big things” – a groundbreaking new product that can help the tech giant to maintain sales.

“Just as the Mac introduced us to personal computing and iPhone introduced us to mobile computing, Apple Vision Pro introduces us to spatial computing," Mr Cook said.

It marks the company’s first major new category in eight years and will try to redefine an industry in the same vein as the Mac, iPod, iPhone and iPad.

The device will be available in the US early next year but the widely anticipated launch failed to inspire investors.

Apple shares pared earlier gains after Vision Pro was announced and were trading at $179.05, down more than 2.8 per cent in the after-hours trading.

Vision Pro aims to blend digital content with the physical world, while letting users stay present and connected to others.

It creates a canvas for apps that scales beyond the boundaries of a traditional display and introduces a fully three-dimensional user interface controlled by the user’s eyes, hands, and voice.

Featuring visionOS, the world’s first spatial operating system, Vision Pro lets users interact with digital content in a way that feels like it is physically present in their space, the company said.

“Creating our first spatial computer required invention across nearly every facet of the system,” said Mike Rockwell, Apple’s vice president of the technology development group.

“Through a tight integration of hardware and software, we designed a standalone spatial computer in a compact wearable form factor that is the most advanced personal electronics device ever."

An augmented-reality headset gives a virtual reality experience for three-dimensional simulations, PC games, and other applications such as movies.

They use an organic light-emitting diode or liquid crystal display screen and a head-motion monitoring sensor to produce realistic-looking 3D images.

The sensor in the VR headset tracks head movement and produces 3D pictures with up to a 360-degree field of view.

Vision Pro has an all-new App Store where users can find apps and content from developers, and access iPhone and iPad apps that automatically work with the new input system for the device.

How secure is Vision Pro?

Vision Pro comes with Optic ID, a new secure authentication system that analyses a user’s iris under various invisible light exposures, and then compares it to the enrolled data.

A user’s Optic ID data is fully encrypted, is not accessible to apps, and never leaves their device. It is also not stored on Apple servers, the company said.

“Where a user looks stays private while navigating Vision Pro, and eye tracking information is not shared with Apple, third-party apps, or websites,” it said.

How big is the market?

The global augmented-reality headset market is expected to reach almost $5.9 billion by 2030, from $4.1 billion last year, growing at an annual growth rate of 5.3 per cent between 2023 and 2030, according to business intelligence firm Vantage Market Research in Washington.

In the US alone, the augmented-reality headset market revenue is expected to hit $1.88 billion this year from $1.84 billion last year, according to Statista.

The extensive application of virtual reality technology in retail and manufacturing industries drives market growth.

Overall, the global virtual reality market size, which was valued at $28.41 billion in 2022, is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 13.8 per cent from 2023 to 2030, according to Grand View Research in San Francisco.

Will Vision Pro adds to Apple's sales?

Apple is aiming to add to its declining profits by adding new products to its portfolio. The company posted quarterly revenue of $94.8 billion, down 3 per cent annually, in three months to April 1. Its net profit dipped 3.4 per cent yearly to $24.1 billion during the period.

Updated: June 06, 2023, 5:52 AM