The return of the very personal computer.
We’ve been doing AR/VR for over 15 years, developing scores of deployments using every spatial technology from the first Google Glass to Hololens – and all the others that have come and gone. We’ve repeatedly delivered on the potential of AR/VR, especially in the medical sector, and to be honest, we have also experienced the disappointments of fantastic spatial technologies that never gained market traction.
Like all things Apple, they have taken existing technologies and smoothed out the rough edges and mixed in some new innovations; and as with most Apple hardware, the engineering is top-notch.
But there are some important things about the Apple Vision Pro “product philosophy” that significantly differentiate it from prior generations of AR/VR hardware.
One person, One Device. Implications for commercialization.
The Apple Vision Pro is a completely personal device – much more than the iPhone.
To buy one requires a scan of your face because the device is equipped with customized padding that fits its owner. Also, the device is bound to an individual’s Apple ID. It gets more “personalized” than that.
You might hand your phone to someone you trust to take a picture or look up some information. There’s no simple “sharing” of the Apple Vision Pro, aside from the custom-fit padding, you must calibrate the eye tracking individually for each wearer, not a difficult process, but a process nonetheless. You can’t select anything without the eye tracking working properly. If you wear glasses, even “drugstore readers” you must get the special prescription lens inserts made custom for you, and only offered through Apple (made by Zeiss). If you get prescription lens inserts for $149, they provide further information to the AVP to adjust its calibration for your eyes; it is not just about the lens insert.
For us here at BrickSimple, in our many years of work with AR/VR technology, we’ve seen how headset technology is adopted – it’s a “pass-around” device like Oculus or Magic Leap or Hololens, which are not such intensely personal devices.
Apple’s strategy of one person, one device is markedly different from the Oculus Quest – which you can easily pass around to people and they can jump in and try it.
Finally, we’ll leave the social & legal implications of wearing a face-hugging video-camera-AI-driven-computer while you’re out walking around (or driving a Tesla). Don’t be surprised if, like its ancestor, Google Glass, Apple Vision Pro runs afoul of privacy laws in various countries (especially Germany, where even Google Street View has only recently started to become available).
The biggest question mark for us at BrickSimple is how to create a sensible and workable business and educational use of the Apple Vision Pro. From the lack of a reasonable way to share the device in a multi-user context to important questions about the data and privacy implications of the device in a medical context, there are many things to consider.
Of late we have been discussing where on the Apple innovations timeline this thing is going to land – is it the Newton, AKA the great-grandparent of the iPhone that was way ahead of its time? Or is it the Lisa, the extremely expensive dead-end that was supplanted by the Mac?
We’re doing experiments with it, and will share more thoughts soon.