Virtual Reality Apple

The Most Exciting Feature of Apple’s Mixed-Reality Headset has Been Revealed

Many people believe that phone addiction comes with some pretty nasty consequences. Talk to any expert, and they’ll tell you that social media apps wreak havoc on our self-esteem and dopamine levels while simultaneously impacting our ability to concentrate on essential tasks at school or work. That sounds pretty bad, but what if there was a way to fix this systemic problem? Surprisingly, Apple may have the solution. Instead of scrolling on these devices for hours on end, our tech overlords now want us to scroll in VR-land with their new mixed-reality headset. Receiving fresh mail on its most exciting feature, we decided to break down all the futuristic/humanity-stripping details fans can look forward to.

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Virtual Reality

Image: Freepik

Setting itself apart from Zucko’s market-dominating Meta goggles, Apple plans to create a 3D version of the iPhone’s operating system with features such as web browsing, photos, messages, and calendar as well as apps including music, podcasts and, of course, Apple TV+. According to a report in Bloomberg, its revolutionary eye- and hand-tracking technology will be the major selling point, taking virtual meetings and immersive video to new heights. Its core features will include advanced FaceTime-based videoconferencing and meeting rooms. The headset will also serve as an external display for a connected Mac and replicate many functions of iPhones and iPads. While this all sounds interesting, you’re probably wondering how this handsy technology actually works.

Mark Gurman at Bloomberg explains that the headset will have several external cameras that can analyse a user’s hands and sensors that can read eyes. This allows the wearer to control the device by looking at an on-screen item to select it. Users will then pinch their thumb and index finger together to activate the task (and this is the cool part) without needing to hold anything. This differs from other headsets, which typically rely on a hand controller.

Similar to Meta’s latest headset, Apple’s device will use both virtual and augmented reality. The headset will have two ultra-high resolution displays for VR to handle the VR and several external cameras to enable an AR “pass-through mode”. It also boasts a Digital Crown – like the Apple Watch – that lets users switch between VR and AR. When AR is enabled, the content fades back and allows users to see the real world through the cameras positioned on the headset. Is anyone else getting terminator vibes?

Another point of difference is the headset’s FaceTime software which realistically renders a user’s face and body in virtual reality. Those avatars will allow two people to communicate and feel like they’re together in the same room. Alternatively, Meta’s headset creates a more cartoon-like avatar of the user. However, Apple’s realistic avatars will only be available for one-on-one chats due to the immense processing power necessary for the feature. If a FaceTime session includes several people, additional users will be displayed as an icon or customisable Memoji.

The roughly USD$3000 device, due later this year under the likely name of Reality Pro, is double the price of Meta’s offering. The company’s 1,000-person-plus development team has spent more than seven years on the project, and Apple plans to unveil it in the coming months. According to reports, that would allow the company to discuss the product at its annual conference for software developers in June and then release it later this year.

A significant gamble for Apple, this will be the first major new product category since it released the smartwatch in 2015. While the virtual reality market is sexy and exciting, Meta has lost billions on its efforts, so Apple will have to wow consumers to whip out their wallets.

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STAFF WRITER

Sam Mangioni

Sam Mangioni is an experienced Staff Writer with an extensive background in digital content production and news. Prior to working for Man of Many, Sam spent three years at Southern Cross Austereo where he served as a Content Producer and News Reporter for the flagship Triple M Breakfast Program. The Sydney-based reporter completed a Bachelor of Commerce from Macquarie University Majoring in Marketing in 2014. A specialist in sport, lifestyle and gear coverage, Sam's work has also featured in Fight News Australia.