Virtual Reality in 2024 - Apple Vision Pro VS Meta Quest 3

Melikjanyan, Samvel

Virtual Reality (VR) technology has long tantalized the imaginations of both consumers and industry insiders, promising to revolutionize how we interact with digital content and experience immersive environments. As we delve into the year 2024, the landscape of VR is dominated by two juggernauts: Apple Vision Pro and Meta Quest 3. In this article, we delve into the significance of these two competing platforms and explore the positive and negative aspects of virtual reality. 

 

From entertainment and gaming to healthcare, education, and even professional training, the applications of VR are vast and multifaceted. Its ability to transport users to entirely new worlds, foster empathy, and enable experiential learning has positioned VR as a powerful tool for both personal enrichment and business innovation. Yet, many believe that this novelty will not be devoid of harmful consequences.

 

One of the most lauded aspects of virtual reality is its unparalleled capacity to create immersive experiences. Through VR, users can explore fantastical realms, relive historical events, or simulate high-stakes scenarios with a level of realism that was once unimaginable. Also, it can revolutionize industries such as healthcare by offering innovative solutions for pain management, therapy, and medical training. Despite the thoughts that it may act badly on human interaction, virtual reality serves as a catalyst for collaboration and social interaction, facilitating connections between individuals regardless of physical distance. Whether through multiplayer gaming experiences or virtual meetings and conferences, it has the power to transcend geographical barriers and foster meaningful connections in the digital realm.

 

However, alongside its myriad benefits, VR also presents certain challenges and drawbacks. Chief among these concerns are issues related to accessibility and affordability. Despite advancements in VR technology, high costs and the need for specialized equipment continue to limit widespread adoption, particularly among marginalized communities. The newly released product by Apple, for instance, - Apple Vision Pro, that the populous seems so eager about, costs roughly around 3500$ US dollars. Until the advancements have reached a certain level where they are affordable to the majority, there will not be widespread adoption or utilization.

 

Additionally, the immersive nature of virtual reality raises ethical considerations regarding user privacy, content moderation, and the potential for addiction. As users become increasingly engaged in virtual environments, questions surrounding the long-term effects of prolonged VR use on mental health and well-being have come to the forefront.

 

Apple Vision Pro

With Apple Vision Pro, users have access to an infinite canvas that transforms the way they interact with their favorite apps. Apps can be arranged anywhere and scaled to the perfect size, enabling the realization of the ideal workspace — all while maintaining presence in the surrounding environment. It can convert any room into a personal theater. Users can expand their movies, shows, and games to the desired size while experiencing immersive Spatial Audio, creating a sensation of being part of the action. With more pixels than a 4K TV for each eye, stunning content can be enjoyed wherever one may be — whether on a long flight or relaxing on the couch at home.

 

Apple Vision Pro introduces Apple's first 3D camera. It enables the capture of magical spatial photos and videos in 3D, providing an unprecedented level of immersion when reliving cherished moments with immersive Spatial Audio. Existing libraries of photos and videos appear incredible at remarkable scale, and panoramas wrap around users, transporting them back to the moment of capture. The best part is that it enables users to remain connected with those around them. The EyeSight feature reveals the user's eyes, signaling to nearby individuals when they are engaged in an app or fully immersed in an experience. As someone approaches, Apple Vision Pro simultaneously displays the person and reveals the user's eyes to them.

 

One of the significant drawbacks of Vision Pro is its high cost as mentioned before (3500$). Cutting-edge technology often comes with a premium price tag, and this headset is no exception.

 

Some reports suggest that Vision Pro has a relatively narrow field of view, limiting the user's peripheral vision. This constraint may reduce the immersive experience and hinder certain applications that require a wider field of view, such as gaming or navigation. Also, VR headsets like Vision Pro are worn on the head for extended periods, which raises concerns about potential health and safety issues. Prolonged usage could cause discomfort, eye strain, and headaches. Furthermore, issues related to motion sickness and spatial awareness may arise, especially for individuals prone to such conditions.

 

Overall, Apple Vision Pro brings exciting advancements in augmented reality technology. It offers an immersive experience, high-quality display, powerful hardware, and seamless integration with the Apple ecosystem. However, the device also faces challenges such as high cost, limited field of view, potential health concerns, and dependence on third-party app support. As with any new technology, it is essential to carefully consider these advantages and disadvantages before making a purchasing decision.

 

Meta Quest 3

In the U.S., the Meta Quest 3 starts at $499 for a model with 128GB of storage, which is $100 more than the Quest 2 and its $299 price tag. There is also a larger storage size model — 512 GB — available for $649. This is an obvious advantage over Apple's Vision Pro, which is 7 times the price of Meta's headset.

 

The Meta Quest 3 VR headset primarily focuses on gaming experiences, whereas the Apple Vision Pro encompasses a broader range of functionalities beyond gaming, catering to various aspects of everyday life and professional use.

 

One of the most notable design updates of the Meta Quest 3 are the three lenses on its front, which house infrared motion-tracking cameras alongside color cameras and a depth sensor. These power both the Mixed Reality and vastly improved Passthrough features, two aspects that Meta are clearly championing among the Quest 3’s most marked improvements.

 

With both of the Quest 3’s displays offering a resolution of 2,064 x 2,208 pixels, Meta has dubbed their screens the 4K+ Infinite Display. Though the name is a slight exaggeration, these displays offer the sharpest image on a Meta headset yet, with improved textures and sharper graphics noticeable in optimized games, alongside fuller, more vibrant colors.

 

The Quest 3’s Head Mounted Display isn’t the only facet of the device to be streamlined, as the new Touch Plus controllers have been hit by the same shrink ray as the headset itself, with each one weighing just over 100 grams apiece.

 

One of the main issues with Quest 3 the difficulty users will face when trying to replace the lithium-polymer battery. It is hidden behind numerous components, cables, connectors, and dozens of screws. Although the battery itself is easily replaceable, reaching it is a challenging task. Also, Quest 3 offers 2 storage options: 128GB and 516GB. This may be insufficient for users with large VR game libraries or those who intend to use the headset for media consumption. Lastly, while the Meta Quest 3 features near-field speakers, some users might find the audio quality lacking compared to headphones, especially for immersive gaming experiences.

 

To sum up, the Meta Quest 3 presents a balance of affordability and quality, focusing on gaming performance and immersive experiences through mixed reality. On the other hand, the Apple Vision Pro targets the high-end market with advanced display technology and a focus on productivity, albeit at a substantially higher cost, aiming for a premium experience in VR and mixed reality applications. As the pace of technological advancements is exponentially growing, the best Virtual Reality headsets are yet to be seen and experienced. Whether it will impact good or bad on the society overall, it was a step in the evolution that had to occur at some point, and this is just the beginning. Just as in case of smartphones, the shift to VR headsets 10 years from now will be so fast and smooth, that very few will manage to raise serious concerns, as then it will be a necessity.

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