A Hands-On Experience with Apple’s Vision Pro Headset

Recently, Apple unveiled its newest product, the Vision Pro headset, which promises to revolutionize the future of computing. I had the opportunity to test the headset, which costs $3,500 and is set to be released next year, for about half an hour. Although I was impressed with the quality of the device, I had mixed feelings about its overall potential and impact.

On the one hand, the headset showcased high-resolution video and seamless controls, marking the beginning of a new era of “spatial computing,” where digital data interacts with the physical world to unlock new possibilities. For example, it will allow users to overlay digital instructions onto real-world tasks, such as assembling furniture or cooking a meal, thus making these tasks easier and more efficient.

On the other hand, the experience of interacting with the headset felt underwhelming and raised some concerns. I was left feeling uneasy, which was unusual given my positive experiences with other Apple products.

To start the demonstration, I was escorted to a private room at Apple’s Silicon Valley headquarters, where I tried on the Vision Pro headset. The device, which resembles ski goggles, comes with a white USB cable that connects to a silver battery pack, which can be worn in a pocket. Adjusting the headset’s snugness is as easy as turning a knob, and the device sits securely on the head with a Velcro strap. After turning on the device, I went through a setup process that involved eye-tracking technology. The device also comes with an array of sensors that can track hand gestures and voice commands.

Despite the headset’s intuitive controls, there were still some limitations. For example, it was unclear which hand gestures the device would recognize for playing games, and it was uncertain how effective voice commands would be given my previous experiences with Siri’s transcription on phones.

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Apple demonstrated how the headset might be used to enrich our lives and keep us connected to each other. For example, I was shown how to use the device to look at photos or watch a video of a birthday party with the option to adjust the transparency to see the real-world surroundings. Additionally, I tried out a meditation app that showed 3D animations while playing soothing music. However, the experience of using a video call was the most unsettling. A notification popped up that read, “Answer call from another Apple employee wearing the headset.” I soon realized that the person on the other end of the line was using a 3D avatar created by the headset. While the facial expressions looked real, it was evident that the face and mouth movements were not, thus creating an “uncanny valley” experience, which felt disconnected and isolating.

The experience of seeing a virtual dinosaur was fun but trivial. When I spoke to my wife about the headset, I admitted that while Apple’s device was superior to its competitors, including those from Meta and Sony Playstation, which offer similarly powerful experiences, it still felt too socially disconnected, which is likely to make it unappealing to users who want to share their experiences with others.

In the end, the most significant issue with Apple’s Vision Pro headset is the idea of connecting deeply with others. While the headset’s technology is impressive, it still has limitations that make it difficult to use for long periods and share with others. The headset creates a connection, but it’s a false one, leaving users feeling isolated and disconnected from the real world. For now, it seems that virtual reality technology still has a long way to go before it can take the place of in-person, human interaction and experiences.

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