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Apple unveils $3499 augmented reality Vision Pro headset

Launching in the US "early next year".

After years of rumour and speculation, Apple has unveiled its long-in-the-works augmented reality headset, Vision Pro, which is due to release "early next year" for $3,499 USD.

Vision Pro - which Apple is insisting on referring to as a "spatial computer" - is designed around the idea of staying "present and connected to others", whether at home or at work. Which, in more practical terms, means its entire 3D interface is built around experiencing apps and other media directly within a user's immediate environment, as viewed through its internal display.

Apps can been relocated and resized in the physical space using Apple's new VisionOS 3D interface, which is primarily controlled through a mix of voice commands, eye tracking, and hand tracking - although traditional keyboards and trackpads are compatible.

Introducing Apple Vision Pro.Watch on YouTube

Vision Pro will support apps specifically designed for the device, as well as certain iPad and iPhone apps, various media formats - including 3D movies (just when we thought we'd seen the last of those at home), plus it can take "spatial photos and videos". Apple also says Vision Pro will be compatible with 100+ Apple Arcade games at launch, with the company promising to share more of its gaming plans at a later date.

Beyond the basics, Vision Pro comes with its fair share of idiosyncratic features, including a front screen capable of displaying a perspective-accurate image of a user's eyes when another person approaches them. It can also scan a user's face to create a life-like, fully digital avatar for use during video calls when their face would otherwise be obscured by the headset, and it even has a "digital crown", used to gradually replace a user's immediate environment with digital landscapes for those moments when their living room just isn't Alps enough. Apple is also making noises about Vision Pro's privacy settings, noting eye tracking is handled by a discrete process that'll ensure apps and websites can't see where a user is looking.

Try not to think about the fingerprints on that.

As far as the hardware goes, Apple hasn't delved particularly deep into Vision Pro's tech specs just yet, but it does say the device features a micro-OLED display system capable of displaying 23 million pixels across two panels - which it describes as "more than a 4K TV for each eye". It's powered by Apple's M2 processor, plus the new R1 - a specialised chip designed for real-time sensor processing of the Vision Pro's 12 cameras, five sensors, and six microphones. And all this can either be powered through an electrical socket, or via an external battery pack capable of keeping the device running for up to two hours.

And finally for now, Apple is touting Vision Pro's customisation capabilities, which take advantage of a modular assembly system. This enables users to pick a flexible light seal from a range of shapes and sizes for a more comfortable facial fit, choose from a variety of straps (these contain the device's spatial headphones), and select custom optical inserts, designed to accommodate different viewing requirements, that magnetically attach to lenses.

Apple's Vision Pro "starts at" $3,499 USD and will initially only be available in the US when it launches "early next year". The device will come to more countries as 2024 continues.

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