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VisionPro: An Apple Marvel So Dazzling It Led Tech Critics Astray from Its Pivotal Flaw

VisionPro: An Apple Marvel So Dazzling It Led Tech Critics Astray from Its Pivotal Flaw

Stephan Kuslich
February 23, 2024
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Section 1: The Tech Review

Critics Echo Chamber and Its Glaring Omission

The unveiling of Apple's VisionPro was an event that captured the tech world's attention, spawning a deluge of coverage that soon turned into a reverberating echo chamber. Tech pundits fixated on the device's surface-level innovations, all the while glossing over a critical deficiency. This collective oversight not only underplays the device's potential in reshaping immersive experiences but also signals a missed step in the progression of simulation-based learning and professional training through immersive devices.

Amidst detailed examinations of the VisionPro's superior display qualities and its pioneering auto IPD adjustment, a crucial gap was consistently overlooked. These advancements, though impressive, distract from a fundamental shortfall that threatens to curtail the VisionPro's transformative promise in the immersive device market.

Critics have zeroed in on the hardware's aesthetics, critiquing its heft and the somewhat gimmicky nature of its display technology. These points, while merited, sidestep a deeper issue: the lack of precise interaction through hand movements. This isn't a trivial detail but a glaring gap that significantly limits the device's applicability across various sectors.

comprehensive review and overview of the Apple Vision Pro

A Critical Flaw Involving Hand Tracking Control

Notably absent from the discourse is a critical analysis of the device's solutions for hand tracking and control—or, more accurately, the absence thereof. This gap isn't just an oversight; it's a fundamental flaw that diminishes the VisionPro's usefulness in precision-demanding fields, such as medical training, making it an expensive yet under leveraged piece of technology.

The External Battery Pack

Ironically, the criticism targeted at the external battery pack by reviewers overlooks a significant innovation. Apple's choice to externalize the battery pack, and potentially the processors—a point surprisingly ignored—exemplifies a forward-thinking approach to immersive device design. This strategy not only addresses common complaints about weight and heat but also pioneers new possibilities for device comfort and usability. By relocating heavier components to an external pack, Apple could redefine industry standards for device ergonomics.

Instead of dwelling on misplaced criticisms, it's imperative for reviewers to acknowledge Apple's strategic design innovations. Moreover, the conversation needs to expand beyond the initial spectacle of the VisionPro to engage with the critical absence of interactive features, which stifles the device's broader impact.

Section 2: The lack of a killer app on launch may have wounded the VisionPro

An easy fix despite Apple’s best attempts to sabotage their own product’s potential

Apple's VisionPro debut was marred by a glaring oversight: the sidelining of external developers, contrasting sharply with the device's technological feats. This exclusion not only stunted the VisionPro's introduction into consumer and professional domains but also left it stranded in a content void, crucial for driving technological adoption.

The lack of a robust strategy for developer engagement has resulted in a sparse application library that fails to harness the VisionPro’s impressive hardware fully. Despite advanced displays and eye-tracking capabilities, the applications lack the depth needed to captivate users fully. This highlights Apple's failure to secure a "killer app" at launch—essential software that justifies the hardware investment.

Furthermore, the VisionPro's omission of shared spatial reality applications significantly reduces its appeal in today's virtual collaboration-centric era. The capacity for users to interact within the same virtual space is vital for modern immersive experiences, facilitating collaborative workspaces to social interactions. Apple's decision to bypass this feature in favor of isolated experiences not only alienates the VisionPro from the evolving immersive landscape but also limits its utility in professional sectors like medicine, architecture, and education.

Lack of Games, Applications and Tools Due to Avoidance of Third-Party Developers

The scarcity of immersive gaming and professional applications relegates the VisionPro to the status of a high-priced curiosity, rather than a pioneering tool. This is especially disappointing given Apple's history of rallying developer communities around new platforms. Without a deliberate effort to engage third-party developers and cultivate applications that fully leverage the VisionPro’s hardware, the device risks being remembered for what it failed to achieve rather than its accomplishments.

Review of Apple Vision Pro

Our Attempt to be Involved as a medical VR Simulation Developer

As soon as we heard the official announcement for the VisionPro, we began contacting Apple to request an early dev kit so that we could port our Wraithmatrix surgical simulation platform from the Meta Quest to the VisionPro in time for Apple’s epic launch. We continued to attempt to contact them for two years and even requested some of our larger clients request dev kits for us. After all, we’re probably not even a blip on Apple’s radar but after both Harvard Medical School and John Hopkins University got nothing but crickets, it was pretty clear that Apple doesn’t have much interested in launching the VisionPro with any 3rd party apps no matter how many lives a liver biopsy simulation-based training program might save. The insular development of the VisionPro epitomizes the ambition and potential stifled by Apple's launch strategy.

While we were envisioning a scenario where Tim Cook showcased the freshly launched VisionPro as a tool capable of revolutionizing industries with apps like Wraithmatrix, Apple disinterested in outside help from anyone. Our platform, designed to deliver hyper-realistic surgical simulations, would have served as a testament to the VisionPro’s capabilities in both simulation-based training and a critically needed tool in the medical industry. However, our aspirations were dashed by Apple's closed-door policy on early developer access, leaving us—and many like us—sidelined at a crucial juncture.

Summary of the developer's Community Frustrations

This exclusion reflects a broader narrative of missed chances and developer community frustrations. Our eagerness to contribute to the VisionPro's ecosystem was met with silence, demonstrating a disconnect in Apple's strategy to foster a diverse application platform. As the device launched without a compelling software library, the absence of platforms like Wraithmatrix underscored a squandered opportunity to highlight the VisionPro’s transformative potential in professional training and education.

Apple's ongoing deterrents to third-party developers post-launch, exemplified by the exorbitant $300 charge for a mere developer cable, illustrate a continued disregard for the developer community essential to the VisionPro’s success. This short-sightedness, especially in light of early returns post-launch, should prompt Apple to reconsider its approach and acknowledge the developers' crucial role in saving the VisionPro from its potential downfall.

Section 3: The lack of a very specific killer feature

Apple Vision Pro Inability to Interact with Virtual Objects

The fanfare surrounding the VisionPro’s debut praised its unparalleled visual clarity, precise eye-tracking, and immersive audio quality. Yet, amidst these accolades, a critical aspect of the immersive experience was conspicuously missing. While the VisionPro enchanted users with visually stunning prehistoric butterflies alighting on their fingers, it barely delved into the realm of what immersive devices have promised. The absence of truly immersive 3D interactive experiences, where users can manipulate their virtual surroundings physically, was a glaring shortfall. This gap, inexplicably overlooked in the VisionPro’s development, contrasts starkly with the interactive 3D capabilities prevalent in current immersive technology.

Inability to Interact with Virtual Objects

The industry has come to expect interactive 3D features as standard, allowing users to engage directly with the digital world. From gaming headsets to mixed reality platforms, the tactile sensation of interacting with virtual objects has become a cornerstone of the immersive experience. This fundamental aspect of immersion, absent in the VisionPro, raises questions about Apple's commitment to integrating practical functionality with its technological innovations.

The shortfall in delivering effective hand interaction solutions for the VisionPro highlights a missed opportunity for Apple to redefine immersive technology standards. For the device to fulfill its potential and for immersive experiences to evolve, developers and users need tools that offer precise control and interaction. Without these capabilities, even the most visually advanced immersive device risks becoming a niche product, failing to realize the transformative promise of immersive technology for gaming, education, and professional training.

Section 4: A Potential Solution

A Focus on Refined Hand Tracking

A Focus on Refined Hand Tracking Could save the Potential of the Apple Vision Pro
A Focus on Refined Hand Tracking Could save the Potential of the Apple Vision Pro

Apple's vision of the user's hand as the sole control interface for the VisionPro is ambitious. However, if Apple can refine its hand tracking to enable accurate interactions with 3D objects, the device could potentially forgo traditional controllers. Yet, consider this: an accessory or option for VisionPro-Pro users— the first immersive device with integrated force feedback hand controllers. Collaborating with Sony, the creators of the VisionPro's high-resolution OLED displays, Apple could develop a controller featuring advanced force feedback haptics similar to those in Sony's DualSense game controllers. This innovation would not only improve accuracy in hand positioning but also introduce a new dimension of tactile interaction, allowing users to feel the texture and resistance of virtual objects.

Imagine, if you will, a world where these haptic marvels become reality. Yes, they might carry a price tag hefty enough to make even the most extravagant spenders blink twice. But let's face it, the sheer cool factor would likely overshadow any sticker shock. Picture the tech community, previously critical, now utterly mesmerized by the tactile nuance of a digital feather or the subtle resistance of a virtual bowstring. The buzz would be so intense, the price might just become a mere footnote, lost in the cacophony of awe and applause.

In this not-so-distant future, Apple could turn the narrative on its head. The VisionPro, once criticized for its lack of tangible interaction, could redefine immersive experiences altogether. And those expensive haptic controllers? They'd become the must-have accessory, their cost a testament to their groundbreaking innovation rather than a barrier. After all, in the grand scheme of Apple's ecosystem, what's a few extra dollars for a leap into unparalleled virtual immersion?

The Potential of an Immersive Future

So, while the VisionPro's journey began with a stumble, the path forward is illuminated by the potential of haptic feedback controllers. In a twist of fate, the device's initial shortcomings could become the catalyst for its ultimate triumph. And as for the tech reviewers, their narratives would pivot from skepticism to sheer fascination, captivated not by the cost but by the unparalleled experience these controllers offer. In the end, Apple's vision might just be so compelling that the price, however steep, becomes just another detail in the story of innovation—a small price to pay for entry into an unmatched immersive realm.

Stephan Kuslich

- CSO & Founder of Ghost Medical Animation & Immersive Surgical Simulations

Apple Vision Pro Official Promo

February 23, 2024
Ghost Productions Inc.
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