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Apple unveiled its first mixed reality glasses

American Apple Inc. showed its own mixed reality glasses, introduced the MacBook Air with a 15-inch screen, new devices on its own chips, and also announced the iOS 17 operating system.

The American corporation Apple at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference 2023 (WWDC 2023) introduced devices in a new segment for itself – Vision Pro augmented and virtual reality (AR / VR) glasses.

For Apple, the mixed reality headset was the first device in this class. The Vision Pro is a pair of glasses with a curved transparent external 3D screen. On the external screen, the user’s eyes are visible – this is a simulation that the device reads in advance before use. You can control the headset using your voice or gestures. For example, the user can flip through pages of text using eye movement. The Vision Pro is equipped with two external cameras for video transmission, as well as a pair of screens that support 4K images inside the headset for virtual reality functionality. You can switch from virtual to augmented reality using a special wheel.

As an Apple representative said during the presentation, when the user switches the device mode to augmented reality, the appearance of the application is slightly blurred and mixed with the surrounding place. The glasses received advanced video conferencing capabilities and virtual meeting rooms with realistic avatars. In addition, the headset allows you to watch movies in 3D. The glasses have all the same applications as on the tablet from Apple – iPad, for example, “Camera”, “Books”, service for video calls FaceTime, “Messages”, “Music”, “Notes”, etc. Vision Pro synchronizes with all other devices from Apple.

Virtual reality headsets are not always comfortable. Here’s how Apple’s headset works

The Apple Vision Pro mixed reality headset is like a pair of ski goggles. The front part is made of glass, and the frame is made of aluminum alloy. A fabric-lined “mask” can adapt to different face shapes (at least that’s what Apple claims). And the size of the ribbed strap – by the way, several colors will be available – is adjustable.

The Apple Vision Pro has only two buttons: the main one, for example, for taking photos and videos, as well as the wheel, which is mainly necessary for switching between augmented reality and full immersion in virtual reality.

The company claims to have used the lightest materials available, but does not mention the weight of the headset in the presentation. Built-in microLED displays (Apple compares their size with postage stamps) reflect a total of 23 million pixels, which is more than in two 4K screens (there are up to 17 million). In theory, this should give a picture in which the pixels are invisible to the human eye.

The headset runs on two of Apple’s own chips – M2, which was previously built into MacBooks, and R1, created specifically for the new device. The first is responsible for performance, and the second is responsible for processing data from all sensors in real time, including LiDAR, 12 cameras and six microphones.

The headset will last two hours on the battery. Apple suggests carrying it in your pocket

Apple Vision Pro can work autonomously for up to two hours – for this, the headset must be connected to a small external battery via a short cable. In the promo video, headset users carried the battery in their pants pocket. If longer operation is required, the device can be plugged directly into a power outlet.

Apple tracks your eyes — and “shows” them to people around you

Apple tracks the eye movements of the owner of the headset, scans the face – and can broadcast the picture from the cameras inside to people who are nearby. This technology is called EyeSight – and it helps to stay connected with the real world.

So, if someone else is next to the owner of the Apple Vision Pro, he will see the eyes of the headset user, and he himself will receive a notification about the presence of another person.

And what about during a video call, for example, via FaceTime, if there is no usual front camera, and there is such a massive device on the face? In this case, the headset will create a digital avatar (Persona) – other interlocutors will see the face without wearing the device.

Apple claims that other companies will not see what sites and applications the user of the headset visits. For security, an analogue of Face ID is used – the Optic ID system, which recognizes the owner of the Vision Pro. All data is encrypted and stored only on the device itself.

There are no controllers!

The Apple headset will be able to control your eyes, dictation using the voice assistant and hands. For example, you can select an element in the application – a button or icon – just by looking at it, and to open it, you will simply need to “click” with your thumb and index finger, bringing them together. To scroll, it is enough to make a movement with your wrist. At the same time, you do not have to keep your hands in front of you – the cameras see how they lie on the user’s lap or on the table.

Two speakers built into the device give the feeling that the sound is coming from the surrounding space. To do this, use the Spatial Audio technology, which is available in AirPods Pro.

Apple claims that the headset is great for work – both in and out of the office

The Vision Pro user can display several Applications at the same time, and switch the work from one to another – with a simple turn of the head. The text (as well as the rest of the elements) will remain as clear as possible, no matter from what angle the owner of the headset looks at it.

You can connect your MacBook or Mac to your Vision Pro and open your computer’s desktop without removing your headset. For typing, you can use both the Magic Keyboard and the virtual keyboard, as well as the Magic Trackpad.

At home, Apple proposes to turn the Vision Pro into a cinema screen

According to Apple, the headset is convenient to use to view photos and videos in the highest available quality. For example, panoramas made on an iPhone in a huge size.

On the Vision Pro, you can also shoot three-dimensional photos and videos – and save something like “three-dimensional memories” that you can return to later (using the same helmet, of course).

Apple is also promoting the Apple Vision Pro as a way to immerse yourself in movies even more — and offers to turn the device into a “personal theater”, including for watching 3D tapes (for example, “Avatar”).

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