Apple turned heads with its new product announcement this week. After years of speculation and company “leaks,” they finally unveiled their new Apple Vision Pro, an AR headset with the hefty price tag of $3,499. Most of us have tried a VR headset at this point but what Apple has introduced is something much different. Their strategy for the future of wearable tech might have some interesting implications for the way we use offices long and short term.
What makes the Vision Pro so different from what is already on the market is the way that it blends the physical and digital worlds. As Tim Cook explained it in his own awkward way: “It’s the first Apple product you look through, and not at.” Apple’s vision for Vision Pro is to make it something that can be worn around, even if the user is watching something actively on the screen.
This solves a lot of problems. It helps the device be something that can be used for a long period of time, one of the complaints of other headsets is that it makes users tired or even dizzy after prolonged use. It also makes the Vision Pro a business tool. The presentation spent a lot of time talking about how the headset could be used to get work done rather than just being another entertainment device.
One of the ways that Apple is helping bridge the divide that can happen when someone is wearing a headset is by being strategic with eye contact. If the user of the Vision Pro is immersed in something the headset will show nothing but a glow on the outside of the goggles. If the person is able to see their surroundings their eyes become visible through the visor, allowing people to more easily interact with them. This seems to be a nod toward the importance of actual interaction with people, albeit through an augmented lens. That means that Apple does not think that we will be able to replace shared spaces like offices with VR. As video conferencing taught us, seeing someone’s face on a screen does not have the same effect as sitting in a room with them.
Apple generally designs their product with an eye towards productivity, it is often one of the only ways that people can justify buying an Apple product when they are so much more expensive than their competitors’. At nearly $4,000 after taxes and insurance Apple might see a use case for these expensive gadgets as a tool that could be provided by offices. I imagine conference rooms equipped with these that could be booked so users could collaborate in 3D, whether they are in the room or not. I could also see companies in certain professions like 3D designers needing to provide large rooms of these headsets to help companies collaborate.
But the market didn’t seem to like this focus on enterprise solutions rather than the mass market. Shortly after the announcement started Apple’s stock dropped almost 3 percent. While that doesn’t seem like much remember that for a company worth almost $3 trillion that equates to around $80 billion.
Advocates of remote work often emphasize the potential of AV and VR to eliminate the necessity of physical offices. However, Apple, known for its innovation, holds a different perspective. Currently, Apple believes that AR headsets will be effective only if they enhance our existing work technology and allow us to retain the advantages of a collaborative work environment. While a future technology might emerge to replace traditional offices, it seems that AR is not that solution, at least for now.
There has been an Apple vs. Android debate for a while, with either side being obnoxiously vocal about their opinion. Last year researchers used a language sentiment tool on tweets around the world to create this map showing which countries have a better opinion about each. The results might shock you.
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