Thoughts on the Vision Pro one week later

In the leadup to WWDC there was a lot of speculative coverage about the much anticipated Apple headset. For the most part the Vision Pro met expectations; the technical specification pretty much matched speculation with the price being at the top end of the expected range.

My feelings about the Vision Pro launch are best described as mixed. The headset is certainly a technical tour de force, and Apple has addressed and solved many of the challenges posed by VR; the 23 million pixel display will deliver crystal clear imagery. Class leading eye tracking and powerful compute will allow developers to create ultra high fidelity CG experiences.

The reverse pass through (which Apple dubbed EyeSight)  is an interesting attempt to address one of the frequent criticisms of VR – that it is socially isolating. EyeSight is either going to work really well at addressing social acceptability of wearing a headset in company, or it is going to land in the uncanny valley and end up feeling ‘’Black Mirror’’ weird. So far, users’ feedback has been at the positive end of that spectrum. If it works, expect this to be a standard feature of all future headsets.

The Vision Pro is undoubtedly a technological achievement, however technology alone does not drive sales. “Content is king” is an old and wise games industry saying. I think it is here that the Apple Vision is less compelling.

There was a lot of focus during the WWDC presentation on content, but almost everything shown was legacy flat content or spatialised 2d apps. All of Apple’s thinking seems to be focused on bringing existing content and experiences to this new device, and not much about how XR can enable entirely new offerings.

It is notable that Apple did not mention the Metaverse once during their presentation; much of the commentary about the Vision Pro since its unveiling has been about how solitary it looked. Apple has focused on addressing the social isolation issue when wearing a headset in company, whilst others (notably Meta) see VR as a gateway to shared worlds. Mark Zuckerberg drew this distinction very clearly in his reaction to the Vision Pro; “Our vision for the metaverse and presence is fundamentally social. It’s about people interacting in new ways and feeling closer in new ways. Our (Meta) device is also about being active and doing things. By contrast, every demo that they (Apple) showed was a person sitting on a couch by themself.”

What struck me the most was the absence of a first party XR ‘killer app’. It seems that Apple is leaving the wider development community to deliver the content and experiences required to drive sales and make the Vision Pro a success. This is a potentially very dangerous position for Apple to put themselves in but we shouldn’t forget that Apple has a commanding position with Mac as the computing platform of choice for much of the content creation industry.

One of the key applications for VR is remote presence. This is what we have been working on at Focal Point VR for the last seven years. Early in our user testing we concluded that for remote presence to deliver its true potential – which is to make the user really feel and believe that they have been transported somewhere else – display clarity approaching human eye resolution is required. In 2018 I suggested somewhere around 35 pixels per degree (ppd) was a sensible target (20/20 vision is equivalent to 60 ppd). Headset resolution roughly doubled since the initial Oculus Rift launch in 2016 (from Rift ~10 ppd to the Quest 2 ~20 ppd). Vision Pro doubles this again to close to 40 ppd making it the first headset (excepting the enterprise focused Varjo headsets) capable of delivering a truly transformative remote presence experience.

We have been maintaining our headset tracker / resolution forecast over the last five years, and I am very pleased to see the Vision Pro just slightly ahead of the curve.


Earlier this year Focal Point VR demonstrated our first 16K VR video livestream (~42 ppd). We are very much looking forward to showing what is possible with near human eye resolution remote presence enabled by our streaming technology and the Vision Pro in the very near future.

In conclusion, The Vision Pro is a technical masterpiece. Apple set themselves a high bar, and by doing what they do best, applying the best engineers and substantial funding to a problem, they pretty much achieved their engineering goals. The device will undoubtedly transform and energize the AR/VR/XR world and we look forward to seeing the public’s reaction to it when it arrives in all those Apple stores. Like most developers in the industry, we can’t wait to get our hands on a Vision Pro to see what we can do!

The livestream resolution you need today for the headsets of 2023.