On Monday 5 June Apple finally unveiled Apple Vision Pro – their highly anticipated Mixed reality headset (AR + VR) headset. The introduction of the new Apple Vision Pro platform constitutes a major addition to the Apple hardware and software ecosystem, but equally as important, it also constitutes a broader market introduction of the AR/VR user experiences and new digital business opportunities.
In this blogpost, we reflect on the new Apple Vision AR platform and on what change it may bring to users, businesses and organisations in the near future.
We give our take on the following perspectives:
What capabilities set the Apple Vision platform apart?
What does it promise for users and businesses?
How to approach this new opportunity
In short, we provide perspective on the strategic opportunities you need to consider.
What capabilities set the Apple Vision Pro platform apart?
The brand-new Apple Vision Pro is considered a Mixed reality headset supporting both VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) experiences. In their approach, Apple has made a clear decision to focus mostly on the AR capabilities of the platform. This distances the product from the previous tech-focused VR visions, but is also much in line with Apple's human focus on taking the product into the customers' real lives.
The vision of mixed reality has been around for decades and in recent years we have seen improvements in key technologies. We believe, however, there are three main reasons that Apple Vision Pro is the first platform with true mainstream potential.
Traditionally the long mixed reality vision has been impeded by insufficient technical capabilities: Low-resolution displays, heavy and wired headsets, slow processors, and lack of battery life. The vision was there, but the supporting technologies were never able to deliver sufficient real-world use cases while presenting issues with latency-driven motion sickness. We believe that the Apple Vision Pro offers a sufficiently good hardware experience that addresses those issues.
The Apple Vision Pro will be the first mixed reality platform that is born with easy access to a huge portfolio of quality applications and content. We believe that Apple Vision Pro being part of Apple’s app ecosystem will be the main driving force behind adoption and development. From a publisher's point of view, existing apps can be pushed to the Apple Vision Pro platform and new apps are supported by a full ecosystem that supports development and distribution.
As the world's largest brand, Apple has the power to facilitate change. For many years VR/AR had issues finding sufficient use cases to justify the technology and hardware price. Apple is known for their refining in hardware and user experience, and we strongly believe that their ecosystem will help companies and users find new ways to take advantage of a Mixed Reality space.
According to Apple, the launch of Apple Vision Pro has resulted in 5000 patents, and it’s clear that Apple Vision Pro represents a very significant innovation leap. The hardware is impressive, but before we get caught up in all the specs, we believe that real world value must be found in the feel of the combined experience using the product and not its features and parts.
If we take a broader look at this new marvel and consider the most fundamental criteria like weight, resolution, wirelessness and processor speed we believe that the combined innovation in Apple Vision has the necessary technology to take AR beyond the lab.
The question then arises - what does this promise for the users and businesses alike?
What to expect
With increased fidelity and immersive capabilities, Apple Vision brings forward new user experiences and engagement opportunities. Some improvements to current capabilities and some brand new ones. Let’s take a closer look.
For the users
For the users, we believe that it’s worth paying attention to the following:
Powerful integration with the Apple ecosystem
MacBook, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and now Apple Vision Pro. In one aspect Apple Vision Pro is simply a new screen to use the Apple apps and streaming services on.
Apple Vision Pro will support the Apple App Store and native iPhone or iPad apps out of the gate and the apps should require no to little adjustments to be compatible. As a significant improvement, however, it will be possible to use more than one app at a time.
Taking streaming to an entirely new level
With Apple Vision users can indulge in competitors’ or Apple's own streaming services as it will be possible to engage more immersively with the content, and you can now carry an entire movie theatre in your backpack, on the plane, or to a hotel. This approach to consuming existing content will be a significant lift in the experiences we already know. We are curious to see the response from the media production companies, with Disney already positioning itself heavily on this agenda – as Apple also holds several TV rights.
Full or partial immersion
Full immersion is a key driver behind optimal media and gaming experiences. Being fully disconnected from your surroundings and the social universe has its obvious drawbacks. Addressing this challenge Apple Vision Pro users are not completely disconnected from their surroundings. The headset will show a representation of the user's face to the outside world and the user of the headset will be able to see the world outside the headset and communicate with their surroundings.
Balancing this key driver is the ability to be fully immersed in digital media, and it will allow you to be at your favourite spot and will enable increased support for focus and calm. The immersive aspect also gives shared opportunities for social interaction, collaboration, and the ability to play with someone in a different location.
Overlaying the real world
The core feature of AR is the overlaying of the real world with a digital layer. There will be broader applications, but we expect most AR apps will be build to solve very specific challenges. Here are some of the cases in which we expect that the arrival of the Apple Vision Pro will have a significant impact.
From a business perspective
Looking at it from a business perspective we find that the new Vision Pro has the potential to create new business models and disrupt already existing ones as we have seen it before with the launch of new hardware lines from Apple. In the section below we try to predict which sectors will see the biggest impact and opportunities from this new headset.
Retail and E-commerce:
From Shapes work with Space10, IKEAs innovation lab, we have learned the significant impact AR has on the customer experience when a user is able to see furniture in real size, in their own home.
AR allows customers to visualise products before making a purchase, enhancing the online shopping experience. Virtual try-on of clothing, furniture placement, and showrooms are some common retail applications. We only expect that this experience will increase with the arrival of Vision Pro and that this will be one of the key use cases for it in the future. Perhaps this even has the potential to disrupt the whole concept around high street shopping, as you would no longer need to go to the physical store to get the full experience.
What will this mean for brick and mortar stores in the future? Will they merely be sampling stores in which you can see “testers” of the product, but not carry any stock themselves? How will this impact the traffic situation in city centres if it’s no longer necessary for delivery trucks to go and replenish stock? We do not know, but we are excited to follow this development
Gaming and Entertainment
At the WWDC23 keynote we saw a huge focus on the Entertainment and Sports space. With Disney’s CEO taking the stage and introducing the collaboration, and the fact that Apple has acquired the MLS rights, we see a clear goal for Apple to position itself on the entertainment playfield. Pair that with world famous game designer Hideo Kojima appearing on stage to introduce the fact that his newest game is coming to the Apple platform, we begin to see a pattern.
Though Apple is not a leader in the industry for now, we believe that this is one of the areas in which they will place their bets. So, we as consumers are in for a ride that will change the way we consume and interact with the Gaming and Entertainment space.
Industrial Design and Manufacturing:
Imagine working at a large factory, having to dial in an advanced piece of machinery and need to know exactly which part to replace or maintain and in what exact order. AR enables engineers to visualise and manipulate 3D models, perform simulations, and streamline production, and with Vision Pro you get all of these functionalities alongside your normal suite of production tools such as spreadsheets, document editors, pictures, and communication tools.
So with the arrival of Vision Pro the usage of AR in the industrial and manufacturing industry becomes more relevant than ever, as you can imagine a full immersive guide, taking you through, step by step, with visualisations, tagging, tips & tricks all the while you can document and store this information in your core business systems.
We see this as a huge opportunity to increase efficiency, decrease the change of mistakes, and overall drive a more lean business.
Education and Training:
Training and education using AR/VR is nothing new, as this offers interactive and engaging learning experiences. It can provide virtual tours, simulations, and interactive models, enhancing education in fields such as anatomy, chemistry, and history. We have already seen this applied on a smaller scale with Walmart training its employees in handling stressful situations such as black friday, and train drivers learning the right procedures at DSB.
However what is new with the introduction of Vision Pro is the force that the Apple brand carries and brings into the mix, alongside the already extensive ecosystem that Vision Pro is adding to. This will call for a new way of training and education. One that transcends geographical boundaries and allows users to train in environments and situations, using the existing business systems as the Vision Pro can act as an extended monitor of your Mac.
Healthcare and Medical Training:
Apple in their keynote, showed a demonstration of a heart that you could examine, understand, and take apart using AR. AR is being used for medical training already, allowing students and professionals to practice procedures in a realistic virtual environment. We believe that with the introduction of Vision Pro, this will only increase further.
We believe that this will be the tool that will lead main stakeholders in the healthcare and medical sectors to invest into the use af AR/VR in the education of its employees as this is no longer a small niche product that can go out of service tomorrow. Now it’s backed by arguably the most innovative technology company in the world, which has dictated the way we all work and interact with technology during the last few decades. Why shouldn’t the trend continue?
This begs the question: Are surgeons done with practicing on dead animals when perfecting their craft? And even further, what will this mean for the prospect of remote surgeries where the most skilled surgeons can operate on patients in different parts of the country? Perhaps not tomorrow, but in the future?
Other areas that we expect to be impacted are:
Advertising and Marketing
Architecture and Construction
Tourism and Travel
How to approach this as a business depends on your industry, market, and customers. Some markets will experience no significant impact while creating a clear opportunity/risk for disruption for others. But being first will pay off since we believe this will be a “winner-takes-all” market.
The introduction of new business models and AR capabilities will take time, so starting the strategic work now would be beneficial. Apple Vision Pro will be released in the US at the beginning of 2024, so look into a horizon of 1-3 years.
These are some strategic considerations:
Extend your current app offering: Apple Vision Pro can improve and extend your current native apps into a new space. Consider if this can increase the user value of your already existing apps and what this will require from a design and development perspective.
Focus on the use case: Are there potential scenarios where core user experiences in your industry will be disrupted through these new capabilites? How will this transcend the geographical and physical boundaries that we know today?
Consider a small-scale pilot projects or proof of concepts to get your skin in the game, collect user feedback, and build a tactical ability to act.
Shape has extensive AR experience from working with complex and large organisations and projects alike.
Let’s talk if you’re looking to venture into the world of AR and VR.