The Apple Vision Pro is a mixed reality headset announced by Apple on 5 June 2023 during its Worldwide Developers Conference. The target release for this device is around the first quarter of 2024 in the United States and on later dates in the same year in different regional markets around the world. This will be the first wearable headset from the company and it will have a retail price starting at USD 3499.00.
An Overview of the Apple Vision Pro: Understanding the Specifications and Features of this Mixed Reality Headset
Mixed reality is a technological application that combines virtual reality and augmented reality technologies to merge the real-world environment and computer-generated environments or create a mixed environment where the real world coexists with digital content. The most feasible implementation of this tech is through the use of headsets.
The aforementioned is the main purpose and function of Apple Vision Pro. This device can specifically display a computer-generated render of a user interface in three dimensions and the current space of a user or even transport this user to a new space. Of course, to implement this, it is important to understand the following specifications of Apple Vision Pro:
• Processors: At the heart of the Apple Vision Pro is a custom dual-chip design consisting of the Apple M2 chip and the Apple R1 chip. M2 is the same system-on-chip used in several Mac computers and iPad devices. It handles the processing, graphics, and artificial intelligence and computer vision algorithms. R1 is a new hardware developed exclusively for mixed reality implementation. It handles the processing of all the data from the sensors and cameras for real-time 3D mapping and gesture controls.
• Operating System: The device runs a new operating system from Apple called visionOS. This is the first end-user operating system for mixed reality that enables users to interact with digital content in a way that feels like it is physically present in their space. It is based on the iOS core frameworks and various XR frameworks. This operating system is designed specifically for spatial computing. This means that it is programmed to be controlled with eyes and hand gestures. Apps available for iPhone and iPad can run on visionOS and Apple has redeveloped some of its apps to maximize the capabilities of this operating system and the mixed reality headset.
• Display: It has a pair of micro-OLED displays that provide ultra-high-resolution images. Each display has more than 11 million pixels or a total of about 23 million pixels. Take note that this is 40 percent more pixels than a 4K display screen for each eye. These displays also feature a 90Hz refresh rate. OLED is the most suitable choice because of its thin profile and other advantages. There is also an external display called “EyeSight” display that shows the eyes of the headset wearer to the people in the room.
• Cameras and Sensors: Another interesting set of specifications of the Apple Vision Pro is its cameras and sensors. It specifically has 12 cameras and a slew of sensors for monitoring hand gestures and mapping the external environment. Two cameras are used to transmit more than a billion pixels per second to the display to depict the real world around the wearer. The others are used for head tracking, hand tracking, and real-time 3D mapping. Infrared flood illuminators help track hand gestures in low-light environments. There is also a LiDAR for depth sensing. Four infrared cameras and LED lights are placed inside the headset for eye-tracking purposes.
• Speakers and Microphone: There are speakers on either side of the headset. These speakers are built into the straps that are connected to the frame. They feature dual-drive audio pods that are positioned next to each ear. The speakers can analyze the acoustic properties of a room for adaptive spatial audio for an immersive sound experience. The foundational tech is based on the AirPods. There are also six microphones that are used for phone calls, video calls, and voice commands.
• Connectivity: It has Wi-Fi connectivity based on the Wi-Fi 6 standard with 2×2 MIMO. This allows fast and reliable wireless internet access. There is also Bluetooth connectivity based on Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless connection with compatible devices like the iPhone and MacBook or other supported non-Apple devices, and accessories such as the Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse, and Magic Trackpad or other third-party accessories. Specific variations of the device can also connect to a 5G cellular network. Non-cellular variation can be tethered to an iPhone for wireless cellular connection. There is also a USB-C port on the left side of the frame for charging and data transfer.
• Design: Apple Vision Pro follows the design philosophy of Apple. It specifically has a sleek and elegant design that aims to make the entire form factor as compact as possible while accommodating all of its hardware components. It has a laminated glass display front, an aluminum frame covered by a flexible cushion, and an adjustable headband. It is also interesting to note that the mixed reality headset can be inserted with a lens for users who need or are dependent on prescription lenses or glasses.
Remember that the Apple Vision Pro is a mixed reality or VR/AR headset. Apple specifically markets it as a spatial computer. It is a device that provides users with an immersive experience by transporting them into a mixed reality environment. This environment merges merge the real world with computer-generated graphics. The following are the features of Apple Vision Pro:
• Superimposition: A defining feature of the Apple Vision Pro is that it superimposes a three-dimensional graphical user interface in front of a user and blends it into the natural or physical environment to create a simulated environment. The superimposed interface also includes app icons, windows, and clickable graphical elements.
• Infinite Canvas: The device allows a user to arrange apps anywhere within the simulated field of vision or in the space and resize them to an ideal size. Take note that the overall mixed reality interface is infinite because it can take a 360-degree area and users can create multiple spaces that can be swapped or switched.
• Multi-Control: Another notable feature of the Apple Vision Pro is that the graphical user interface and mixed reality environment can be navigated through hand gestures, eye gestures, and voice commands. It can also be controlled using Bluetooth-paired input devices like a Magic Trackpad and a Magic Keyboard.
• 3D Camera: It is important to note that this device is the first three-dimensional or 3D camera from Apple. A user can capture spatial photos and videos in three-dimension. The image or clip looks more life-like because of the panorama orientation that wraps around beyond the field of view of the user or viewer.
• Entertainment: The Apple Vision Pro transforms a room or physical space into a large screen in which the user can feel as if he or she is part of the movie he or she is watching or a video game that he or she is playing. Spatial Audio improves further this immersive visual experience through a clearer and simulated surround sound.
• Communication: Remember that this device is equipped with standard connectivity features like Wi-Fi and cellular radios. The fact that it is a mixed reality headset means that video calling and video conferencing via platforms like FaceTime look more immersive with superimposed and life-size video tiles.