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Will Apple Vision Pro Change Immersive Experiences?

The $3,500 headset is being touted as the next best thing in immersive tech. But is it all it’s cracked up to be?

Apple Vision Pro
The Apple Vision Pro virtual reality headset launched in early February.
Photo: Shutterstock/Ringo Chiu

It’s the hottest new tech you likely haven’t gotten your hands on yet, and it’s been touted as the latest tech tool that has the power to shape the future of, well, everything, from working to watching movies, gaming, and more. It’s the Apple Vision Pro.

The high-tech goggles were released to the public in early February for a hefty $3,500. Naturally, BizBash wanted to see how the frenzy would affect the meetings and events industry.

Chris Courtemanche, the founder of 3D rendering firm Renhaus Visualization Studio, said that the Vision Pro’s release “is a reminder that consumers engage with content everywhere—not just when walking past a brand activation while at a show or large event.”

But how can event profs capitalize on that? Courtemanche answered, “by having an online experience that mimics the in-real-life event, not revert to 2019 where we solely rely on in-person engagement” or even 2020 when the only option was an online to-do that couldn’t be replicated in reality.

“If global shutdowns taught us one thing in the event industry, it should be that we need to focus on events and campaigns that transcend the limited base of consumers who stop by an event,” Courtemanche said.Apple Vision ProThe Vision Pro retails for $3,500, a cost that causes an "entry barrier" for users, said Renhaus Visualization Studio's Chris Courtemanche.Photo: Shutterstock/Hadrian

And although event profs might have virtual- or hybrid-event fatigue, it’s important to remember that “the online experience lives on post-event, outlasting the typical six-to-eight-hour in-person activation,” Courtemanche said.

Virtual reality (VR) is a viable option in achieving this and is especially appealing for its ability to truly immerse users in a digital world.

Take it from Zoom, the ubiquitous online meeting platform that’s come to be a pillar in the workplace despite return-to-office mandates. Ahead of the Vision Pro’s release, Zoom announced a new app design specifically designed for the device, which “blurs the lines of in-person and remote meetings with the infinite canvas on Apple Vision Pro, helping distributed teams feel more connected and included,” per a press release.

If not used with immersive experiences in mind, Will Dean, the co-founder and CEO of group gaming company Immersive Gamebox, warned that the Vision Pro and its included technologies can “contribute to the rise in feelings of social isolation through the digital barrier they create between the user and environment.”

“Apple’s Vision Pro works in exactly this way: encouraging users to enter their own virtual world and removing the need to interact with others,” Dean told BizBash. “For technologies like this to have any mainstream role in society, we need to be honest about the isolating impact they have on people—and find ways to address this.”

Until then, Dean said that he won’t be making Immersive Gamebox’s experiences Vision Pro-compatible.

“Central to the Immersive Gamebox experience is technology like projection mapping, sensors, touch screens, and surround sound that enable players to interact with their co-players and immediate environment for a truly immersive experience. Putting a headset on immediately detracts from the social, team element of the experience—which is what Immersive Gamebox is all about,” he explained.Apple Vision ProVision Pro works by "encouraging users to enter their own virtual world and removing the need to interact with others," said Will Dean of Immersive Gamebox. Though this can be advantageous to the virtual or hybrid event experience, it threatens to detract from social experiences, Dean warned.Photo: Shutterstock/Valentino Hendryco

Courtemanche reiterated that there’s still a long way to go—not only for the Vision Pro to become an increasingly established product, but also for brands to get more comfortable interacting with and integrating the device and its capabilities into their work.

It’s “unknown to most brands,” Courtemanche said, also noting that it “comes with an entry barrier of the device cost, which limits the VR audience.”

According to Dean, “the fact that Apple has designed it means that there will immediately be intrigue around it, and this might be enough of a reason for marketers and event professionals to experiment with it.”

However, if something isn’t done about this “extortionate price-point,” Dean predicts the novelty of the Vision Pro will wear off. “Just like all those Pelotons being used as clothes stands after the pandemic, these will be in drawers and cupboards around the world within two years,” he said.

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