WWDC 2023 | Apple Vision Pro touted to herald new era of "spatial computing" powered by visionOS
Pretty much every up-to-date Apple headset-related leak and rumor finally saw vindication in the course of Apple's "one more thing" for its WWDC 2023 keynote - except, of course, for the name, of course. The company's expansion into "spatial computing" has been unveiled as visionOS, which runs on the first-gen Vision Pro.
Apple aims for the ultimate 'wearable iPhone' look with the use of materials such as a "custom aluminum alloy" in building its inaugural headset. It is rated to deliver visionOS-powered "experiences" patently geared toward the familiarity and fluidity of macOS - if macOS was completely free of the constraints of a monitor and could produce screens of up to 100 feet in perceived size with optional immersive back-drops, that is.
Apple's latest software is rated to support its own App Store, replete with as much of a floating 3D approximation of the user's current Mac, iPad or iPhone UX as possible, thanks to the support of third-party platforms and providers such as Disney and Unity out of the box.
Then again, visionOS differs in that it may have to 'mix' the user's real-life environment, awareness of space and other people included, at need. It is also the first kind of Apple software with native support for new perks such as the ability to view Message contents in AR.
All this potential for "spatial computing" is powered by the M2 chipset and a surprise first-gen R1 co-processor: a combination lauded as powerful enough to co-ordinate the input from all the headset's sensors to make sure the UX "feels like it's taking place right in front of your eyes" with as little as 12 milliseconds of image-generating latency.
On that note, the Vision Pro is built around a custom "micro-OLED Apple silicon backplane" with pixels of just 7.5 microns in width, for a total resolution of 23 million pixels (or "more than a 4K TV") per 'eye'. The binocular panels - each equipped with a custom lens for "incredible sharpness and clarity" - are paired with audio "pods" found on either side of the headset that deliver its custom-made Spatial Audio for apparenlty ultra-convincing surround sound.
The Vision Pro also incorporates downward-firing cameras, IR sources, TrueDepth modules and LiDAR scanners that allow the Vision Pro to use simple and "intuitive" hand gestures (akin to swiping or pinching on an iPad), rather than "clunky" hardware, as its controls.
The headset is also rated for precise, "high-performance" head- and eye-tracking for as much 'realism' in its use as possible. Apple's Vision Pro's also has internal cameras (and "invisible" LED lighting) for the user's eyes, so that they can be represented on the front of the device's world-facing front panel.
This feature, known as EyeSight, is intended to keep the user "connected" to others without the bother of taking the headset off. All in all, Apple now hypes the Vision Pro as a high-end PC, an entire home theater and web-conferencing machine in one.
Unfortunately, that has put the price of early adoption at no less than US$3,499 ahead of its release "early next year" - and that is presumably without modification with the extra Zeiss-tuned custom lens inserts those with vision impairments are likely to need.