Talk to the headset, because the face is not listening.
Eyes Have It
Apple has finally announced its long-awaited AR headset at today's Worldwide Developer's Conference — and it looks even stranger than we anticipated.
Perhaps its quirkiest feature is its front-facing display, which shows its wearer's expressions to people nearby by displaying a live view of their eyes on a front-facing screen, confirming previous leaks.
And judging by the demos of the feature Apple is calling "EyeSight," it's a seriously strange decision, making it look like the wearer's eyes are stuck to the front of the ski goggles-like device like a pair of googly eyes.
A lot is riding on this headset, as the first totally original hardware line of the Tim Cook era. Given the metaverse's serious struggles at rival Facebook and elsewhere, it's going to be an uphill battle — and this goofy front-facing display may not be helping.
It's fairly evident that Apple is trying to market its headset as a social way to experience augmented worlds. And there's still a chance that EyeSight could allow wearers of the headset to convey emotions or expressions to other nearby humans much better than competing and much bulkier devices — at least in theory.
But given what we've seen today, we've got some serious questions about the company's execution. Will anybody actually shell out a whopping $3,499 for this thing? Will Apple singlehandedly revive an industry that has failed to bring VR headsets to the mainstream for years?
Unsurprisingly, social media had a field day with the headset's eye transparency feature, mocking it in a series of memes.
Tech reviewer Marques "MKBHD" Brownlee posted a Spongebob Squarepants meme, for instance, lampooning the strangely lifelike eyes displayed on the front of the device.
Daily newsletter Morning Brew opted for an image of Anakin Skywalker wearing an awkward-fitting pod-racing headset from "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace."
rolling up to work in our Vision Pro pic.twitter.com/lfMv3h7dLZ
— Morning Brew ☕️ (@MorningBrew) June 5, 2023
Apart from the ribbing the device received on social media, other onlookers were cautiously optimistic.
"After hearing about Apple's headset for so long, this is honestly kind of surreal," tweeted Riley Murdock, a video producer at YouTube channel Linus Tech Tips. "Looking really great so far."
"I love shitting on Apple but if anyone is going to make AR/VR a mainstream thing, it's them," he added.
Whether Apple, however, will be able to convince enough people to shell out well over three grand for such a device remains to be seen.
Compounding those difficulties, the device will only be made available "early next year," which means we'll have to wait for many more months until we have an answer.
More on the headset: Apple Hoping People Will Wear Its Pricey VR Headset to Parties
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