With the introduction of Apple’s $3,500 Vision Pro headset, the focus on spatial audio makes sense

Photo credit: Apple

Apple has unveiled its Vision Pro headset, priced at $3,499. The experimental technology heralds what Apple is calling the era of spatial computing.

During its WWDC 2023 conference, Apple finally presented its newly announced headset to the world for the first time. Technology journalists are now making their first practical experiences with the device. It’s a new category of technology that runs what Apple calls visionOS. Users go through a setup process and scan their faces and ears to start using the Vision Pro.

The navigation in the new visionOS is based exclusively on the recognition of eye movements, hands and voice navigation. Tapping your fingers on an object in space selects it, while the pinch-to-zoom feature does exactly what you expect. You can open multiple apps and arrange them in space exactly how you expect, although the learning curve might be a little steep for those unfamiliar with virtual reality controls.

“Just like the Mac introduced us to personal computing and the iPhone introduced us to mobile computing, Apple Vision Pro introduces us to spatial computing,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook during the WWDC unveiling. “Building on decades of Apple innovation, Vision Pro is years ahead of and unlike anything created before – with a revolutionary new input system and thousands of breakthrough innovations. It opens up incredible experiences for our users and exciting new possibilities for our developers.”

The headset features dual ultra-high-resolution displays that can transform any room into a personal cinema, “with a screen that appears 100 feet wide and an advanced spatial audio system.” Apple Immersive Video features 180-degree resolution footage and spatial audio. The headset also has something called EyeSight, which detects when someone is in the room with a person, allowing the person wearing the headset to see them.

The technology even works for people who need vision correction with ZEISS optical inserts to ensure precise gaze tracking. But what about the spatial audio experience?

Apple says It has developed an advanced spatial audio system that creates the feeling that sounds from the user’s surroundings match the sound in the room. Two individually amplified drivers in each audio pod deliver a personalized spatial audio experience based on the user’s own head and unique ear geometry, using an iPhone to create the ear scans.