All we know about Apple's AR-VR headset Vision Pro

At $3,499, the new device will be available in the US from February 2

Customers can place orders for Apple Vision Pro. AP
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Apple’s long-awaited augmented-reality headset Vision Pro is to be launched next month in the US market for $3,499.

Chief executive Tim Cook described Vision Pro, which is the company's first major product launch since the Apple Watch in 2015, as a new era of spatial computing.

Spatial computing involves the digitisation of interactions between machines, people, objects, and their surrounding environments, enabling and enhancing actions and engagements.

Announced in June last year, Vision Pro is a “revolutionary” spatial computer that aims to transform how “people work, collaborate, connect, relive memories and enjoy entertainment”, Apple said.

Following the announcement, Apple’s stock jumped 2.42 per cent to $185.56 a share at market close on Monday. The company’s market capitalisation stood at $2.89 trillion.

The National explores the features of the Vision Pro and looks at the burgeoning augmented-reality headset industry.

Who will control Vision Pro?

Vision Pro will be controlled by the user’s eyes, hands and voice.

It intends to blend digital content with the physical world, while using spatial experiences in new visionOS (operating system).

Apple said visionOS is built on the “foundation of decades of engineering innovation” in the company’s other operating systems, such as macOS (Mac computers), iOS (iPhones), and iPadOS (iPads).

Intuitive gestures will allow users to interact with apps by simply looking at them, tapping their fingers to select, flicking their wrist to scroll, or using a virtual keyboard or dictation to type.

With virtual assistant Siri, users can quickly open or close apps and play.

An all-new app store for Vision Pro

Vision Pro will come with an “all-new App Store” that will allow users access to more than 1 million compatible apps.

“Apple Vision Pro is the most advanced consumer electronics device ever created. Its revolutionary and magical user interface will redefine how we connect, create and explore,” Mr Cook said.

How big is the market?

After declining in 2023, shipments of headsets are expected to grow 46.4 per cent on an annual basis this year, according to the International Data Corporation.

Meta Platforms, which released its latest virtual and mixed-reality headset Quest 3 (for $499) in September, occupies more than half of the augmented reality and virtual reality headset market.

Meta claimed a 55.2 per cent market share during the third quarter, followed by Sony and ByteDance.

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

FaceTime embraces spatial elements

FaceTime on Apple Vision Pro takes advantage of the space around the user so that everyone on a call appears life-sized, Apple said.

Spatial audio makes it sound like each person’s voice comes from the location of their tile.

If a user is wearing Vision Pro while on FaceTime, they appear as their persona, which is a spatial representation of a Vision Pro user that enables others on a call to see their facial expressions and hand movements – all in real-time.

Apple said that by using machine-learning techniques, a persona can be created in just minutes using Vision Pro.

It will also work in third-party video-conferencing apps including Zoom, Cisco Webex, and Microsoft Teams.

How secure is Vision Pro?

Apple has introduced Optic ID, a new authentication system that uses iris analysis to unlock the Vision Pro device, streamline password autofill, and enable secure transactions through Apple Pay.

The company said the privacy of the user's gaze remains protected during navigation on Vision Pro and the eye tracking data is not disclosed to Apple, third-party apps or websites.

Moreover, EyeSight, an integral component, incorporates a visual indicator signalling when a user is capturing spatial photos or videos, ensuring transparency and discretion in such instances.

Pricing and Availability

Vision Pro will be available from February 2 at all the US Apple stores. However, orders will begin on January 19. Prices will start at $3,499 with 256GB of storage capacity.

“While the new VR headsets are expected to drive volume, they also risk alienating some consumers as average selling prices trend upwards,” said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager at IDC.

How many Vision Pro shipments are expected

IDC expects Apple to ship fewer than 200,000 units this year. Earlier, KGI Securities analyst Christine Wang also said she expected shipments of 200,000 in the first year.

In contrast, Meta has already shipped more than 10 times Apple's expected volume in the first three quarters of last year, according to IDC calculations.

Credit Suisse predicted Apple could ship more than a million in the first year.

The company sold more than 1.4 million iPhones in the first year after its launch in June 2007, generating about $630 million in sales.

Updated: January 09, 2024, 9:18 AM