By Jerry Gibbs, Currier Times Faculty Advisor///
I happened to be at a mall on February 2nd, the day Apple released the new Vision Pro, their augmented reality headset that has received much hype in recent months. I saw some goggles on display at an Apple store and figured I’d put it on. I found out you needed to sign up for an actual demonstration. Fortunately they had an immediate opening and so I went right in! The following is a review of the experience.
For those familiar with Meta Quest, it looks fairly similar but packaged in a typical, high-end Apple way with a fabric mask that protects the goggles, and very comfortable fabric on the straps. The fabric mask comes off to reveal the glass-like goggles.
Before putting the Vision Pro on, Apple has you take a quick quiz to make sure your eyes are ready to use the device. Right now it can’t handle eyeglasses but reports say it has prescription lenses you can purchase for an extra price.
The quiz then said I was OK to try them on and an Apple expert brought me to a table, sat me down, and had me look into an iPhone to scan my face and eyes. This process took a few minutes, and it adjusts your facial features and eyes to use the goggles for your personal specifications.
Then I was shown how to carefully put the goggles on and adjust them to my comfort level. The device is a bit on the heavy side, but I felt pretty comfortable nonetheless. Once on, your eyes must be “calibrated” by looking at various dots on the screen and pinching them with your fingers.
Unlike the Meta Quest, there are no controllers for your hands. Your eyes and your fingers do all of the work. It takes a bit of practice to coordinate this process, but after you get the hang of it, it is very cool indeed to just use your eyes and fingers for computing.
Next up, was the main demonstration, and what a demonstration it was!
The Apple expert brought me through the “home page” which looked like the set-up of my Mac and iPhone….it was familiar. But there it was on this huge screen while the rest of the store could still be seen behind it.
Further pinches and eye movements brought me to the Photo folder. You can scroll just by moving your fingers left or right, and pinching brought the photo up. The most dramatic were 3D photos and videos taken with the Vision Pro of a child’s birthday party. The viewer feels like they are sitting at the table with the family. You feel like you should be singing “Happy Birthday” with them!
Following that, stunning panoramic photos, taken with an iPhone, and 3D videos were demonstrated, again by pinching with your fingers. In one, a woman is on a tight rope over a cliff staring right at you. It’s beyond realistic–you feel like you are there. If there had been a cold wind blowing on me, it would be over the top real.
Other items displayed were movies, where you could make the screen the size of IMAX. In these cases, you can “hide” the store and the only thing you see is the movie screen.
Scrolling in a web browser and other office tasks are also loaded onto the device.
There is an external battery, and in this demo, it just sat on the table. I would imagine most people would be sitting when using this device, but you can attach it to your body if necessary.
While this was only a demonstration–and from what I understand the same demonstration people are getting all over the country–it showed some tremendous new technology. Early adopters will rush to buy this, as one gentleman was doing across from me. For others, it will have to come down in price before it gains a mass audience. The price on opening day was $3499.
While Apple is late to the augmented reality party, this Vision Pro could be a game-changer. For now, it shines in the entertainment department, and capturing family memories.
Would I wear it all day as an office work station? No. It’s a bit too bulky and heavy for that.
But Zoom has already made an app that they claim is going to shake up the office Zoom environment, via Vision Pro. And, if it’s anything like sitting at that 3D birthday party, it will be wild!
Apple has published a series of “How To” videos on YouTube, including “Getting to Know the Settings” and “Getting to Know the Control Center.” Definitely check all of those out too!
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