Apple promises ‘spatial computing’ with $3,500 goggles
CUPERTINO, CALIF. >> Apple on Monday unveiled a longrumored headset that will place its users between the virtual and real world, and test again the technology trendsetter’s ability to popularize new-fangled devices after others failed to capture the public’s imagination.
After years of speculation, Apple CEO Tim Cook hailed the arrival of the sleek goggles — dubbed “Vision Pro” — at the the company’s annual developers conference held on a park-like campus in Cupertino, California, that Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs helped design.
“This marks the beginning of a journey that will bring a new dimension to powerful personal technology,” Cook told the crowd.
Although Apple executives provided an extensive preview of the headset’s capabilities during the final half hour of Monday’s event, consumers will have to wait before they can get their hands on the device and prepare to pay a hefty price to boot. Vision Pro will sell for $3,500 once it’s released in stores early next year.
The headset could become another milestone in Apple’s lore of releasing game-changing technology.
Apple’s streak of breakthroughs dates back to a bow-tied Jobs peddling the first Mac in 1984 —a tradition that continued with the iPod in 2001, the iPhone in 2007, the iPad in 2010, the Apple Watch in 2014 and its AirPods in 2016.
The company emphasized that it drew upon its past decades of product design during the years it spent working on the Vision Pro, which Apple said involved more than 5,000 different patents.
The goggles will be equipped with 12 cameras, six microphones and a variety of sensors that will allow users to control it and various apps with just their eyes and hands. Apple also developed a technology to create three-dimensional digital version of each user to display during video conferencing.
If the new device turns out to be a niche product, it would leave Apple in the same bind as other major tech companies and startups that have tried selling headsets or glasses equipped with technology that thrusts people into artificial worlds or projects digital images with scenery and things that are actually in front of them.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been describing these alternate three-dimensional realities as the “metaverse.”
Cook and other Apple executives avoided referring to the metaverse in their presentations, describing the Vision Pro as the company’s first leap into “spatial computing” instead.
Although he expects Apple’s goggles to boast “jaw dropping” technology, Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives said he expects the company to sell just 150,000 units during the device’s first year on the market — a mere speck in the company’s portfolio.
By comparison, Apple sells more than 200 million of its marquee iPhones a year. But the iPhone wasn’t an immediate sensation, with sales of fewer than 12 million units in its first full year on the market.