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Apple’s mixed reality at least gives us a place in the future


And so it begins. Apple opens the gateway to mixed reality. The Vision Pro could revolutionise how humanity enters virtual worlds. The Times chose to hide the story inside in favour of a page one splash about AI ‘killing humans’. Plus ca change. Technology is always dystopia or utopia in a few pages. Iron Man or Terminator. You decide.

There’s a demand for immersive technology in this new world of competitive storytelling. The battle is intensifying. This product will allow stories to be told in ways not possible before. Where Apple leads, others follow. The Vision Pro could be the moment that mixed reality goes mainstream, something Meta has failed to achieve.

One social media post compared the price of the Vision Pro to that of a new kidney. Leaving aside the judgment behind the use of such a metaphor, it does highlight the high price point. At US $3,500 this ain’t low involvement stuff. There was a time when Apple was all about democratising tech against the evil Microsoft.VR and AR’s place in the future of technology is inevitable. Its only limitations thus far have been the quality of experience and availability. Evolution in technology is only possible when it goes mainstream. A critical mass or tipping point is pushed further back at this price point.

Apple has at least chosen an element of evolution. A familiar user interface to the rest of the Apple ecosystem. Apple users will know how to use it out of the box. And the mixed reality on offer is a different philosophy to the total control preferred by the likes of Mr Zuckerberg. Your stuff in your world. Not your stuff in his. That’s an important different when we’re talking cookieless.

It is seldom acknowledged that tech goes mainstream when it changes habits. Nothing to do with how good the tech is. If that was the case, we’d still be working with Betamax instead of text messaging.The Vision Pro stand out is “spatial computing” - the ability to let the real world in, in real time. Real-time and live streaming are the new authentic. It’s this flexibility that makes the product a springboard. You have to buy the milk but not the whole cow.

Apple deserves credit but of course, there are thoughts. And for those thoughts, we have beer. Do we really need more time in space and less in the pub? Would we be happier? VR and AR will add to the seven hours a day people spend in front of screens. This technology might seal people off from the real world, heightening their isolation. Personally, I’d be happy to go anywhere I can’t hear about Southampton Football Club’s self-demotion or Boris Johnson’s self-promotion. 

45% of people in the UK say they are lonely. Yet on-line consumption continues to rise. Could they be related? We should be told. In the meantime, all agencies are now in pursuit of the world’s scarcest commodity. Not precious metals. Definitely not oil. Not even planetary hope. It’s attention. The Vison-Pro will provide new ways of holding attention in the brief few moments the current span affords us.