Home Technology It's Official: Apple's Vision Pro Headsets Launch on Feb 2

It's Official: Apple's Vision Pro Headsets Launch on Feb 2

Just Don't Call Them VR Goggles. If the pricey device catches on, small businesses could find new app, hardware, and software markets.

By Inc.Arabia Staff
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Apple is not at the national CES tech expo, but it still managed to steal the limelight from the giant, high-tech event. It took to national television airwaves as it announced its Vision Pro headset will launch on February 2, and that the company will start taking preorders at the end of next week.

What can we expect from what may be Apple's "next big thing" after the iPhone, iPad, and Watch

Rumors said the Vision Pro was expected soon, and Apple's official announcement (accompanied by a on-brand eye-catching promo video) made good on the company's June 2023 promise of an early 2024 launch. The Vision Pro was one of Apple's signature "one more thing" announcements -- a marketing trick and a meme of its own, leveraged often by Apple founder Steve Jobs. 

Now that consumers know the $3,500 device will hit the market imminently, it's a good time to look at what the Vision Pro is, what promise it has for consumers and business users, and how much of a design classic it may become.

What Is This Thing?

Virtual reality and augmented reality are longstanding tech buzzwords. Google Glass, a 2014 early effort to sell the tech, failed terribly. Facebook's Quest headsets are a more recent, successful example. Their appeal is rooted in CEO Mark Zuckerberg's promise to let users into a "metaverse" future. Zuckerberg is so enamored with the term he even renamed Facebook's parent company Meta.

But Apple's effort may be very different. Vision Pro stands out through its staggering price: $3,500 is a big ask. Facebook's newest Quest 3 headsets, whose release was somewhat rushed last year, cost $500, and the Xreal Air 2 Ultra AR glasses just revealed at CES are priced at $700. The Vision Pro is priced much more at the professional end of the market -- it's in the name, after all.

The Vision Pro goggles are also, arguably, a much more technologically sophisticated offering. Apple filed over 5,000 patents to protect the system's secrets. 

What Can Vision Pro Be Used For?

Vision Pro goggles slip over a user's eyes and superimpose a sort of digital dashboard onto their view of the real world. Through this ghostly digital interface, users can use apps a lot like ones for smartphones or tablets, but tailored to this new "virtual world" environment. One difference? Users can control their activity by waving their hands in the air and glancing at the right part of the display, somewhat like a virtual touchscreen. 

The goggles can also act as a personal, head-worn giant cinema screen for movie watching, serve as a 3D-interface for Zoom-like conference calls, or show 3D "spatial videos" that have already charmed and moved early reviewers. 

In terms of productivity for entrepreneurs, the benefits of using Vision Pro at work are totally unpredictable. Will the office of the near future be peopled with goggle-sporting workers randomly waving their hands in the air? Nobody can tell.

It is more likely, though, that the Apple headset will trigger an explosion of new app development, with all the attendant promise of a brand-new marketplace. Small business app developers may be able to tap some of this new revenue stream by tailoring their existing apps for the new 3D goggle environment. The devices' app store could also enable wholly new ideas for software -- a path that could create the first Vision Pro app millionaires.

What Does It Look Like?

The Vision Pro's design will be analyzed for years to come. Given tech industry norms, it may even be broadly copied. The headset has a metal frame with a slick finish, and it's highly curved -- evoking the rounded, metal edges of the very first iPhone from 2007. The front has a display that can show a digital representation of the wearer's own eyes. This is a strange twist that's different from competing products. Chatting to someone who's wearing the goggles may feel a little more normal than looking at a blank piece of plastic or aluminum, or maybe not

The whole goggle assembly is held in place with a big plastic and fabric headband, and the whole thing is powered by a puck-like battery pack attached to the headset by a cable. This is one awkward element of the device's design, attracting some criticism, and in use it may end up tucked into users' pockets or left lying on desk -- or sofa-tops.

The headset design may usher in another new market for third-party businesses to exploit, much as they have for smartphone accessories. Better headbands or more portable power solutions are an easy target for the right kind of entrepreneur.

One More Thing

Don't call apps for the Vision Pro "VR" or "AR," per Apple's request. Its goggles aren't really goggles, the company says. The tech giant is framing the whole device as something totally new, offering what it calls "spatial computing," with "spatial computing apps." Whether this label sticks and gets picked up by competitors, generating a whole new market segment, is something no one can predict.

Photo Credit: Getty Images.

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