3 Mind-Blowing Ways the New Apple Vision Pro Headset Could Benefit Seniors
The new Apple Vision Pro headset is displayed during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference on June 5, 2023 in Cupertino, Calif. The headset, which carries a hefty price tag at the moment, employs functions that could prove beneficial for seniors. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
When a company like Apple unveils a new device people take notice.
After all, the iPhone is the bestselling smartphone brand in Canada, while the iPad is the top tablet, the Mac is the hottest laptop, the Apple Watch is the No. 1 smartwatch and AirPods the biggest name in wireless earbuds.
This week, Apple unveiled the Apple Vision Pro, its first-ever “spatial computing” device that looks like high-tech ski goggles. It’s a mixed-reality headset that fuses augmented reality (where you can see digital information overlaid on top of the real world around you) with virtual reality (realistic imagery that fully envelopes your field of vision).
In development for several years and tied to more than 5,000 patents, this futuristic headset is controlled via your eyes, finger gestures in the air and your voice.
But before you get excited about trying this out, note Apple Vision Pro won’t be available until early 2024 — and only in the U.S. to start — and starting from an astounding US$3,499. Canada should soon follow, though not confirmed.
While attending Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in Cupertino, Calif., last week, I had a chance to test drive this very ambitious headset and run through several applications.
So, what are some of the highlights, and how could we best take advantage of it as we age?
1. Time in a bottle with “spatial” photos and videos.
Apple Vision Pro has twin displays, totalling 23 million pixels, which is higher resolution than a 4K TV.
Therefore, photos and videos you view are incredibly detailed.
But way more impressive is the fact that the headset can be used to capture three-dimensional “spatial” images — thanks to its 12 cameras, five sensors, and six microphones — such as one scene I experienced of kids singing happy birthday and blowing out candles on a cake.
When you play back this content in Apple Vision Pro, it truly looks 3D, like really being there when it was recorded. Imagine reliving memories long after you captured them with the same realistic depth — including conversations with friends or family who are no longer alive.
No VR headset I’ve tried can do anything like this.
Adding to the immersion was 3D audio, too, so you can aurally pinpoint where the voices and sounds were coming from in that room.
2. FaceTiming loved ones is like being there.
Many seniors use FaceTime to engage in video calls on an iPhone, iPad or Mac.
Apple Vision Pro also lets you chat with others, but a mind-blowing demo included FaceTiming someone also wearing a headset.
She was represented by a digital avatar, or “persona,” that looked just like her, but was first digitally captured and then animated in real time with her actual facial and body expressions. Think of it like a hologram, of sorts, like really seeing a family member or friend standing in front of you.
While on a FaceTime call, you can also share content with one another as if you’re both in the same room.
3. Breathtaking virtual experiences aplenty.
Similar to wearing a VR headset, Apple Vision Pro can show you 180-degree images — magically transporting you to another time and place — which could trick your brain into momentarily thinking it’s the real deal.
And it’s tied to head-tracking, too, so you can “look around” that scene and hear sounds from different directions. It could be raindrops on a river, a musical performance, the best seats at a sports game, sitting with animals in nature, or watching a 3D movie. I experienced all five of those scenarios.
Again, I’ve seen a lot of virtual reality in my day but not with this much clarity and depth.
The last demo was interactive, in fact. I was asked to stand up and walk around the room — which looked like a prehistoric jungle to me — and a giant (and presumably hungry!) 3D dinosaur sniffed and followed wherever I went.
From a tech standpoint, Apple Vision Pro looks to be an extraordinary device that can be used for work or play, capturing and reliving memories and communicating (very realistically) with those who aren’t able to be with you in person.
I can see the clear benefits for those who want to “age in place,” as it seamlessly blends the physical with the digital.
Yes, it’ll be priced out of many consumers’ hands, without question, but it was fascinating to catch a glimpse of the near future.