A long time has since I last posted to this blog and not many things have compelled me to write about them, however, this one has. This post is more of an opportunity to record my thoughts on the tech and to see if my predictions ring true in the next 4/5 years.
For a bit of context, I am an Apple device user, I have an iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch and Homepod. I’ve not always been one though, for most of my life I’ve been an Android user for all tech (barring laptops and desktops) and my smart home environment is powered by Amazon Echos but over the last couple of years I’ve slowly migrated to the Apple ecosystem (I’m writing a post on that too but it stalled just before the holidays).
So I’m a new Apple user but by no means a fanboi to Apple, just tech in general. Anyway back to the Vision Pro
To paraphrase Tom Scott “New tech that proves to be useful generally follows a sigmoid curve” At the start development is slow, ideas are refined and bugs are solved, then, there is an explosion of growth as it takes off, and other companies enter the market. Finally, as we reach the limit of the possibilities with technology updates are slower and more incremental. To quote Tom again “There is a reason people don’t queue for the new iPhone on launch day any more”
I’m not yet clear on whether the Vision Pro represents a new curve or an advancement on an existing one. VR headsets have been around for several years (even decades), we saw in 1995 the Nintendo Virtual Boy (and devices much earlier too) but a significant take-off of the technology has come in the last 15 or so years with the likes of the Oculus Rift HTC Vive, PlayStation VR, and the Meta Quest series of headsets.
However, Apple is billing the headset as Mixed Reality, not VR and has focussed on the headset being about augmenting things on top of the space you are in as opposed to putting you somewhere totally different (yes you can still go and do that). So is this a new genre of computing where augmentation is the primary factor or is it just another angle to what is “VR”.
Meta when they launched the Quest 3 talked a lot about its passthrough capabilities and that functionality is decent, it has its limitations (as does the Vision Pro) but overall it’s quite useable from what I have seen (sidenote I don’t own nor have I used a Quest 3 or Vision Pro so my views are based on extensive research). So what Apple are doing is nothing specifically new, but as we’ve seen so far they appear to have done it better than all the rest. With that said, Meta is still calling it a VR headset and the default is still to be in another environment entirely with those devices.
I think I am leaning toward this being a new Sigmoid curve, one that VR will eventually be consumed by. The reason behind this thinking is that while Apple has effectively taken existing tech and reframed it, they have done so in a way that’s creating a new genre of headset and one that will push computing into a new space entirely. Yes, it’s big and bulky now, and yes wearing it outside makes you look different and potentially some would say stupid but imagine in maybe 5-10 years when this tech is in a set of almost normal-looking glasses, you could be sitting in a park and see a flower or an animal you don’t recognise, one quick hand gesture or phrase and a window pops up with details on the plant. Now 5-10 years may be optimistic but I do believe that’s where we’ll get to. Google Glass went too small too quickly, its use cases were limited and it masked the potential of the solution, Apple has created something that instantly has use and it’s easy to see the potential applications this could have, right now. Inspirational is the best word for it, though it sounds a bit evangelical, they have created a product that will inspire other manufacturers to create better, smaller more accessible products in this Mixed Reality space, Apple will continue to push to be the best in the market and we’ll see some incredible advances in the next 5 years.
For me this is super exciting, it’s one of the best bits of tech I’ve seen in a long time and, while it sounds corny, is revolutionary in a lot of ways.
There are some other factors to think about too, social impact, human factors, and usage regulations amongst others. These I will write about in part 2.
For now here are my predictions for the next 5 years (future me, how did I do?)
- Apple Vision Pro will continue to be developed, it will have halved in weight and size.
- There will be an Apple Vision Pro and an Apple Vision
- Meta and the “Metaverse” will shift focus (quietly) to Mixed Reality to compete with Apple
- People using these headsets out and about and in offices will be entering a social norm, not entirely accepted but it will no longer be a surprise or seem strange to see someone using them. (Not sure about this one, it might be too fast).
- Price is a tough one but I suspect Apple Vision will be about $1500, Pro will probably be about the same price it is now
Thanks for reading and if you got this far well done!
Part 2 will be incoming soonish where I’ll discuss the effects this could have on society.