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The Reality of AR

Updated: Nov 11, 2023

By Kyan Wang Nov. 9, 2023

Buzzwords are an inevitable part of the tech world. The terms Metaverse, quantum computing and Web3, have all burst to the forefront of technology and fallen back just as quickly. However, augmented reality (AR), where digital information is integrated into the real world, has been a dream unwilling to die.

Apple announced the Vision Pro mixed-reality headset in June, beginning the AR cycle of hype (think Google Glass and Pokémon Go) once again. Apple is positioning the Vision Pro as a beta test for any future AR products they may release, with its high $3,499 price tag keeping it out of the hands of all but the most wealthy techno-fanatics, largely due to high production costs brought about by the device's custom parts. The Vision Pro is Apple's first foray into "spatial computing," meaning that the users will interact with digital screens overlaid in the real world. These screens are like holograms in sci-fi movies, but they are only visible with a pound of aluminum on your face. Apple markets the device as a desktop computer that is accessible anywhere, and early testers have praised the futuristic device as "mind-blowingly impressive" per Inverse and "the future" per TechRadar.

Despite the superfluous nature of the Vision Pro in everyday life (the device's battery lasts a mere two hours), the device could herald the AR revolution that has been false-starting ever since Google's Glass launched in 2014 as a pair of sunglasses equipped with a camera, heads-up display, a touchpad and a microphone. Marketed as a "ubiquitous computer," Google sought to make browsing the internet as simple as seeing. Despite its ambitious scope, the product ended up being discontinued after a mere seven months of sales. Critics raised issues with the device's violation of privacy and security due to its facial detection features and discreet video recording. Ultimately, its high price point of $1,500 proved its downfall, with few willing to shell out such an exorbitant sum for an early prototype.

Despite the price point being out of reach for so many, Apple is unlikely to abandon the Vision Pro as readily as Google did with their glasses. Apple can afford to throw billions at AR technology, and the promising foundation (great build quality and a seamless user experience) of the headset has allowed Apple to dodge the "why is this necessary?" question that older AR projects have raised. Elements such as the touch screen that made the iPhone such a massive success are present within the Vision Pro as well. Perhaps one day many will own an AR headset in addition to a phone. Only time will tell the success of future Apple AR devices, and the Vision Pro shows great promise. Maybe AR will finally stop being a decade-long embarrassment!


About the contributor

Kyan Wang

page editor

Kyan Wang is a junior at Leland High School and is the page editor for Science & Tech and Feature US for The Charger Account. When not being crushed by imminent deadlines, he enjoys listening to music, wasting away on his computer, and running on the rare occasion that he is not debilitatingly injured.

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