In the news
Apple’s take on the augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) headset is here, and it’s got people reconsidering the metaverse.
As Apple has done in the past, it allowed other tech firms—Meta, in this case—to act as the pathfinder in an emerging category. Then, once the Quest AR/VR headsets rolled out, Meta appeared taken aback, by some observers, when the tech world’s focus (pun intended) turned to generative artificial intelligence. (Meta insists its metaverse and approach goals have never wavered.)
Many observers believe the arrival of Apple’s $3,499 Vision Pro will validate the field of metaverse headsets as it’s got some intriguing features that appear to distinguish it from Quest and other competitors. For example, while most AR/VR headsets cocoon users in a fully rendered world, Apple is hinting that Vision Pro users can wear it around the house while performing everyday tasks. A dial will even allow them to change the balance between virtual and augmented reality.
We wondered about Vision Pro’s impact on the metaverse, especially in the professional sphere. Is the device “magic,” as some early users have declared, or “searching for a purpose,” as others maintain?
The Cognizant take
Duncan Roberts, thought leader and futurist at Cognizant, believes the Vision Pro rollout itself—both what Apple did and did not highlight about the product—speaks volumes about the company’s intentions.
Consider that Apple didn’t use the term ”VR,” nor did it demo VR games, Roberts points out. The reason, he believes, is that Apple is going after its existing user base rather than AR/VR enthusiasts.
“Apple is stressing that Vision Pro is non-isolating and feels natural. As Apple CEO Tim Cook pointed out, you look through it, not at it.” The device also provides immediate access to the entire familiar Apple ecosystem—apps, music, movies and so on—which also differentiates it from Meta’s devices.
While some have criticized Vision Pro’s price point, others argue that the $3,499 buys unmatched functionality and quality. “The resolution, the comfort, the quality of the pass-through—it’s all superior,” Roberts says. “It’s got a lidar scanner. It’s got 12 cameras as opposed to six.” Where buyers of Quest and other devices often bolster the device’s abilities by connecting it to a computer, the Vision Pro headset genuinely offers sufficient power as a self-contained unit.
It all adds up to a price tag that’s “not outrageous for the quality it will provide.” He says it’s noteworthy that this is the minimum viable product Apple is willing to ship—and this is what it costs. Moreover, as with virtually all tech, the price will come down as time passes.
Roberts, like others, believes Apple’s entry into the market is a turning point for the metaverse. “This is what Apple does,” he says. “They take something everybody’s been doing—in this case Google, Microsoft and Meta—and they polish it and make it lovely. They’ve made it seamless, with an easy user interface. Apple has validated all the work Meta’s been doing.”