With the launch of Apple Vision Pro at WWDC 2023, CEO Tim Cook has lobbed the ‘dangerously enticing’ forbidden fruit at us again. Only this time, upon taking a bite from the Apple, you will be sent to a mixed reality that you probably should not be in.
“Mac introduced us to personal computing and iPhone introduced us to mobile computing, Apple Vision Pro will introduce us to spatial computing,” said Cook during the announcement. The point is, with the introduction of phones, people were already getting detached from the ones around them, though being connected with the world. This new innovation will take this detachment to a whole new level.
As a 100 year celebration of Disney, Apple has also announced its partnership with the company to allow people “to look through instead of just looking at it”, according to Cook. So, now you can sit awkwardly in a flight and place your movie screen on the face of the person sitting next to you, and enjoy the 3D space. No one would know or care.
Now everyone’s dreaming
Amid all the hype around AI at Google and Microsoft’s conference, Apple decided to not hop on the wagon. Instead of building a hallucinating chatbot, Apple decided to make people hallucinate in real-life.
Imagine, sitting in an empty house and staring at oblivion. This gloomy scenario is what Apple has been trying to sell. No doubt a technological marvel, but comes with a lot of things that would make people refrain from it. Moreover, looking at the price point, there is a reason why the headset’s shape is like a kidney.
The common theme around Apple’s product launch was to ensure that the users are not scared that they would lose touch with the humanity around them. Constantly, Cook and team used words like, “not losing track of reality”, to ensure people do not fear the loss of what is real after this. The truth is, in fact, the opposite. Ever since the release of Apple Vision Pro, Twitter is filled with people comparing the technology with and panicking about the present becoming Netflix’s Black Mirror or perhaps the world in WALL-E. It appears that Apple imagines the world to roam around wearing ski goggles.
Though this makes complete sense if someone is focusing on immersion and controlling everything around without holding anything in their hands. We all know that “eyes are the windows to your soul”, and now Apple is scanning our eyes and probably staring into our souls.
Stay away from my eyes
Is Apple preparing us for a future pandemic? We already experience separation anxiety with the small screen we keep in our pockets. Only now, the screen will be in front of our eyes — All The Time. You wouldn’t want to meet your friends in real life because it would feel like they are in the room with you when they are not.
Matt Birchler said in his blog, “As soon as you’re interacting with someone in person, the headset is coming off. Wearing this thing at a kid’s birthday party will be seen as borderline psychotic behavior.” We saw the video of the product and how a dad is interacting with Vision Pro instead of playing with his daughter, and distinctively kicks the ball towards her.
Either it was a marketing marvel which was supposed to be heartwarming, but it just felt dystopian. Apple was making the point that this technology will not suck you out of reality, and was trying very hard to prove it. But to some extent, it failed to do so.
At the conference, Apple spoke about screen time and how the new WatchOS 10 will track and tell you if it gets too much. On the other hand, attaching a screen 5 cm away from your eyes would not damage your eyes?
Moreover, if Apple now has the ability to track your eye movement all the time, the data can be used for advertising and possibly control. Imagine ads popping up in front of your eyes instead of your phone. Pretty big invasion of privacy as well.
When Google revealed its Glass in 2013, the people who were actively wearing it were termed “glassholes“. It died. Now with Apple’s Vision Pro users, there should be a new term – “vision poopers“.
The prediction is just this — Vision Pro probably wouldn’t be an iPhone moment from Apple. It would just be a gadget that few people would buy, use for a while, and probably not linger on for too long. That explains why even Cook was not wearing the headset at the event.