Apple today introduced the Vision Pro headset, its first mixed reality headset, and visionOS, an all-new operating system for the device. Apple describes the Vision Pro headset as “a revolutionary spatial computer that seamlessly blends digital content with the physical world.” The device has a completely new operating system with a three-dimensional user interface. Experiences in Vision Pro are not limited to the confines of a display. You can scale and position apps as you like, and control them with a combination of your eyes, hands, and voice.
The entire front of the headset is made of polished glass, which flows into a lightweight aluminum frame. On the top of the headset is a button and digital crown that lets you control how deep you want to immerse yourself in the environment. The headset features a modular system to ensure an optimal fit. The battery is separate and attaches to the side of the headset via a magnetic connector. Eyeglass wearers must use the appropriate ZEISS magnetic lens inserts with the Vision Pro headset.
The Apple Vision Pro headset features an ultra-high-resolution display system with 23 million pixels on two micro-OLED displays – more than 4K for each eye. It uses high-speed cameras and a ring of LEDs that project invisible light patterns onto the user’s eyes to track their gaze. The headset also includes the M2 chip paired with a new R1 chip dedicated to real-time sensor processing.
The technology is based on Apple processors in a unique dual-chip design. The M2 offers very high standalone performance, while the brand new R1 chip handles inputs from 12 cameras, five sensors and six microphones. By this, Apple wants to ensure that real-time content feels as if it were appearing right in front of the user’s eyes. The R1 streams new images to the displays within 12 milliseconds – 8x faster than the blink of an eye. The headset can be used all day on the mains, while the external battery provides a maximum of two hours of operation.
Also on board is a new spatial audio system with two individually amplified drivers in each audio pod. It delivers personalized spatial audio based on the user’s head and ear geometry. Audio ray tracing can also be used to adapt the sound to the environment.
The headset is controlled by a user’s eyes, hands and voice. You can scroll through apps just by looking at them, tapping with your fingers to select them, or dictating by voice. The Vision Pro also supports Apple’s Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad. The headset provides pass-through video of a wearer’s eyes in a feature Apple calls EyeSight, which shows the user’s eyes to those around them. It uses a lenticular OLED display to show the right perspective to everyone looking at the wearer.
Vision Pro can turn a room into a personal cinema, create dynamic landscapes, or display a connected Mac in a virtual space. Additionally, it shows apps running on the Vision Pro itself. With FaceTime calls, all participants in the call are displayed in life-size tiles. Wearing a Vision Pro headset during a FaceTime call emerges as a persona – a digital representation of themselves.
Optic ID scans a wearer’s iris to authenticate users and unlock the Vision Pro headset. Vision Pro is also Apple’s first 3D camera that also records the appropriate 3D audio track with spatial audio.
visionOS offers an infinite canvas for apps and a three-dimensional user interface. Apps react to light and cast shadows. When you put on the headset, a home view appears right in front of you to feel at home and present at the same time, according to Apple.
However, visionOS also represents a completely new platform for developers. Compatible apps for iPhone and iPad also run in visionOS. So the number of apps will be correspondingly large at the start. There will be a brand new App Store where you can discover apps developed for visionOS as well as compatible iPhone and iPad apps. The Apple Vision Pro starts at $3,499 (€3,266) and will be available early next year. It will only be available in Apple stores in the US.