Apple’s Vision Pro Headset marks a New Era of AR Technology

With spatial computing anticipated to dominate the global technology market, the Vision Pro headset could stand to test multiple industries moving forward

Apple’s first venture into the headset market, Apple Vision Pro, is now scheduled for sale.

The company has announced that the headset will launch on 2nd February 2024 in the United States (US), with pre-orders expected to begin 19th January 2024. Company CEO Tim Cook made the launch date announcement on Twitter, stating: “The era of spatial computing has arrived!”

This release date is limited to the US, with no indication over when Vision Pro will be available worldwide. With much anticipation about the product launch, there has been plenty of discussion about how it will blend digital content with the physical world

A new era of technology with spatial computing

Vision Pro is Apple's most expensive product since the launch of the iPhone more than a decade ago, in addition to costing three times the amount of Meta’s most expensive headset. 

Prices for the Vision Pro will start at US$3,499, with the headset coming with 256GB of storage. At this stage, no further details have been specified.

The headset will also mark Apple’s first entry into the spatial computing market, amid much scrutiny in the world of virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR). With fast-paced developments in machine learning, computer vision and other new technologies, spatial computing could be positioned to dominate the industrial landscape over the next decade.

Spatial computing is the connecting of virtual objects with real space, involving technologies like AI, extended reality (XR), the Internet of Things (IoT) and sensors to create a more immersive form of human and computer interaction.

It has also been suggested that VR could quickly become an effective tool for multiple industries and sectors. In particular, it could be utilised as a more effective classroom tool and offer greater insights for professional development and learning.

Whilst surveys have suggested that the majority of people believe Vision Pro will act like an ‘iPhone moment’ for the company, there has been plenty of scepticism over if headsets will take off in the same way.

It was even reported by CNBC that Apple executives were unsure about their new headset, having referred to it as a “science project” in 2023.

Anticipated market competition with Meta

Apple has also confirmed that the VisionPro device uses Apple’s M2 chip, in addition to a new chip called R1 that rapidly processes information from sensors, cameras and microphones. In addition, users will be able to navigate the interface without a controller, as the device supports the tracking of eye, head and hand movements.

Tech giant Meta is currently leading in the headset market, with its offerings successfully blending virtual reality and human reality. Its latest headset, Meta Quest 3, has been described by the company as its most powerful headset yet, with VR and breakthrough mixed reality that lets the user blend virtual elements into the physical world around them. It has achieved positive reviews and averages a price of US$500 depending on how much storage the user buys.

With Apple’s costing much more than Meta’s headsets, time will tell if Vision Pro sales will dominate the market in 2024.

Up until recently, Apple was the most valuable company in the US since July 2022, having recently reached a landmark US$3tn valuation.

Despite this, the company’s stock performance has recently been poor which, combined with a number of AI-focused announcements from competitors like Microsoft, has closed the gap significantly. According to Bloomberg data, US$177bn in market value has been erased so far in January 2024.

With 2023 being Apple’s longest revenue slide in more than 20 years, the Vision Pro headset could be the main test in 2024.

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