Apple Unveils Apple Vision Pro, its Revolutionary Augmented Reality Headset

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Apple Inc  unveiled the Apple Vision Pro, an augmented reality headset, at its annual software developers conference on Monday, marking its first major foray into a new product category since the introduction of the Apple Watch nine years ago.

CEO Tim Cook described it as “spatial computing” with the device controlled by your eyes, hands, and voice.

“This is the first Apple product that you look at, not through,” Cook said.

Apple stated that the Vision Pro features a three-dimensional camera and microphone system to capture videos and images that can be viewed in 3D later on. The company demonstrated the functionality being used by a parent during a child’s birthday celebration.

The Vision Pro has two hours of usage with an external battery, which Apple claims reduces the weight on the user’s head. However, the device needs to be plugged into the wall or battery, and there is no standalone usage.

Shares of the iPhone manufacturer rose 2% to a record level of $184.95 prior to the launch, but declined by 0.4% after the announcement.

Apple’s head of human interface, Alan Dye, stated that users will select content inside the glasses with their eyes, tap their fingers to click, and gently swipe to scroll.

The device also features an external display that shows the user’s eyes to people in the outside world. The external display turns off when a user is fully immersed in a virtual world. When a person approaches a user in fully virtual mode, the headset shows both the user and the outside person to each other. “You’re never isolated from the people around you,” Dye said. “You can see them, and they can see you.”

For professional use, Apple demonstrated how the headset can be used with a trackpad and keyboard to function like a traditional computer with multiple screens.

Apple stated that the headset utilizes a new chip called R1, designed to process information from its sensors faster than the blink of an eye.

Walt Disney’s (DIS.N) streaming service, Disney+, will be available on the device from day one. Disney has been a partner of Apple for years. Disney CEO Bob Iger took the stage in 2005 to announce that some of its most popular TV shows would be available for download via the iTunes Music Store.

Apple made no major announcements about generative AI products similar to ChatGPT or Google’s Bard search engine, but it quietly integrated several small AI features, such as live transcriptions of voice messages.

The launch of the headset will see Apple test a crowded market of devices that have yet to gain traction with consumers and directly compete with Meta Platforms (META.O), the owner of Facebook.

Investors and technology enthusiasts are focused on how Apple’s vision for the virtual reality market overlaps with that of Meta. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined his vision of using headsets to enter and exit a “metaverse” where people can virtually meet to work, play, and spend.

In addition to Meta, Sony Group Corp (6758.T) and Pico, owned by ByteDance, have both recently launched virtual reality devices.

Research firm IDC stated that companies sold a total of 8.8 million headsets last year, a 20.9% decline compared to 2021. In the first quarter of 2023, sales have declined by more than half.

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