Fri, 09 Jun 2023 09:00:00 GMT
Apple has just unveiled the Apple Vision Pro - an immersive, mixed-reality headset that claims to 'seamlessly blend digital content with your physical space'. As well as the more traditional entertainment-based VR applications, the launch earlier this week showed the technology being used to revolutionise the desktop experience with its ‘spacial operating system’. The headset also uses spatial audio, a 3D camera and hand and eye-tracking, highlighted through potential use cases like immersive video calls, gaming and more.
Following the announcement, LBB’s Ben Conway reached out to some of the ad industry’s tech-conscious creatives and leaders to hear their reactions to the headset and whether they see a future with this technology at forefront of the creative world.
Contributing to this feature is an international selection of voices from McCann Worldgroup, Media.Monks, M&C Saatchi, dentsu, MullenLowe, iProspect, Native Foreign, Blacklist Creative, Remake, Wongdoody and Across the Pond.
Apple's Vision Pro has unleashed a realm of possibilities for brands to reimagine consumer engagement. Here's what it means:
Interactive Cinema and Ads
The Vision Pro allows users to experience video content in groundbreaking ways. Picture yourself courtside at a thrilling sporting event, accessing immersive player stats, or virtually stepping into a glowing spaceship while watching the latest episode of your favourite series. Brands can collaborate with publishers and platforms to create personalised experiences, utilising immersive filters that transform the world into their brand's universe. Rather than passive viewing, users can engage with stories or ads through personalised interactions and choices, amplifying brand engagement and interactivity.
24/7 Personalised Assistance
Traditional bots and agents can now offer immersive interactions. Brands can develop full-bodied assistants to guide users through complex product setups and provide troubleshooting support, whether powered by AI or human assistance.
Streamlined Product Assembly
No more instruction manuals. The Vision Pro enables users to receive visual overlays with step-by-step instructions, enhancing onboarding experiences through immersive storytelling. Brands can create emotionally-driven onboarding experiences.
The World Is Your Billboard
The Vision Pro revolutionises advertising, integrating digital experiences into the real world. Streets become immersive playgrounds, and homes transform into immersive stores. Brands can deliver meaningful digital experiences seamlessly.
So what should brands do now?
Focus on the idea, not the technology itself. Apple didn't mention specific technologies like AI, AR or the metaverse, but emphasised the importance of use cases. While the initial release of Vision Pro may not target mass adoption, it marks the beginning of spatial computing and immersive hybrid experiences.
To prepare, build 3D assets for the future of mixed reality. Shoot videos in 3D and convert 2D visuals or products into 3D formats. This is not only relevant for Apple's new headset, but also aligns with the new AR capabilities introduced by Google. It's time to envision new entertainment and storytelling possibilities as content becomes fluid and the medium constantly evolves. However, at the core, the power of creative thinking and impactful storytelling remains more crucial than ever in making an impact.
Apple’s announcement of the Vision Pro has been an important step in bringing mixed reality back into the conversation, while legitimising the work made by others like Magic Leap and Meta. At first glance, it isn’t the most feature-fuelled headset on the market, yet, it focuses primarily on the user experience and hardware infrastructure that will be essential in creating more immersive experiences moving forward. For now, practical use cases are the star of the show, reinforcing Apple’s philosophy of creating well-designed products that address everyday tasks, instead of technology determining how we behave.
The big catch is that its $3,499 price tag makes it more of a luxury item for now - putting it out of reach for most consumers. I anticipate the depth and impact of the headset in our industry won’t be immediate, as it will take time for audiences to first warm up to the idea and understand how to interact with it best. However, if Apple continues to focus on product messaging, ease of use, comfort and practicality, I can see it evolving over time to become as ubiquitous as other beloved Apple products. It’s worth keeping an eye on to see how it continues to develop.
Apple's Vision Pro is an impressive technological advancement with immense potential to redefine various industries, particularly in the creative and media spaces. The ability to overlay digital content onto the real world opens new possibilities for creative expression and immersive experiences, seamlessly blending reality and imagination. It is conceivable that the Vision Pro could revolutionise education, gaming, and even advertising.
However, one cannot help but wonder whether the Vision Pro might be the most expensive pair of goggles you could buy. While it undoubtedly offers a new and intriguing world for tech enthusiasts and millions of gamers, as well as new advances in how an architect or surgeon might work, its widespread adoption for everyday activities like casual social interactions or time with family seems less compelling right now. Plus, it is unlikely that we will abandon our iPhones anytime soon.
We should acknowledge that none of us knows how the uptake of the Vision Pro will go. It is reasonable to expect several years of niche but fascinating applications. Then, who knows - perhaps mass adoption becomes feasible sometime after 2035 when the contact lens style Vision Pro 17 is announced.
Many companies have approached this space and billions have been spent trying to make headsets a thing, with little success, but Apple has a long history of being second to market and dominating, so maybe this is another one of those moments. But, do people really want to live with computer monitors on their heads? The jury is still out on that for me.
My sector is making ideas. We’re constantly rethinking workstyles. Mobile phones, video conferencing, and collaborative workspaces have radically shifted how we do business, but AR and VR devices have had zero impact on the basics of what we do. I’m sceptical. I have no desire to work with a designer on what amounts to a really fancy 3D Zoom from my basement, even if it makes me feel like Tom Cruise in ‘Minority Report’. Let’s get back to the office!
From a marketing perspective, VR is an encased, solo experience. AR is adaptable to almost everything marketed. The price point will prohibit big-scale mass marketing content in the short term, but Vision can be an incredible medium as the price comes down. Even now, I imagine retail marketers could allow customers to borrow devices to close sales. Vision will be quickly used for things like interactive kiosks, event activations, etc. And for sure everyone will scramble to be the ‘first to use Vision technology’ in a marketing stunt. If marketers can get it into people’s hands, it seems like the device could make an impact on direct sales, high-end marketing, and retail situations straightaway. Imagine the possibilities. Like Home Depot loaning them out to customers to test-drive a new kitchen or creating in-home experiences for essentially anything you buy. As it scales, the experiences really get into ‘Star Trek’ levels, like pinching the sneakers on Jokić's feet while watching the NBA finals this weekend and clicking them to see how you like them on your feet.
Spatial tech is not a trend. It is a technology that scientists and companies have been trying to crack for 50 years. Since Ivan Sutherland’s first head-mounted display in the 1960s, the technology has matured and multiple tech giants have tried to make products from it, auto brands have integrated it into production. Apple changes the game with controller-free interactions, but it's the size of the developer base and the comfort we all have with downloading apps from Apple that might differentiate this device and that could be the key factor that makes it successful.
And it's not a gimmick; it's a cool technology looking for a go-to application. It's hard to think of this as a revolution because head-mounted devices have such a long track record of failure. The iPhone was a revolution; they sold 11 million units in year two. Vision is more likely to succeed in a bunch of different niches. And if a few exciting normal use cases emerge, I could see it finding a place in our lives. But even if Apple Vision Pro isn’t successful, AR, in many forms, is here to stay.
It’s great to see Apple’s much-anticipated entry into the XR/MR/spatial computing space. Apple has a long and successful history of waiting patiently as others move fast and make mistakes - that they can learn from - to then come out with a superior product (often at a superior price point). I don’t think we’re at that ‘iPhone moment’ just yet, but this is a step in the right direction. The hardware will get better, more streamlined, etc. What we’re really waiting on is that 'killer app', that piece of software that really lands the use case in an undeniable manner. The areas where I see the biggest, most immediate opportunities are:
With creators like Disney on board, there’s a fantastic opportunity for immersive storytelling. I’m excited to see what our creatives unlock for advertising within this same realm. Also, if you haven’t yet got an MR strategy, now is the time to start thinking about it!
Hey, I’m the ‘gaming guy’, so I would say this, but I’m giving gaming its own use case as a plus to broader entertainment. I’m really excited by the partnership with Unity, giving developers the tools and engine to build immersive games and monetise (including through advertising).
Future of work
In my opinion, the hybrid work situation is here to stay. I still remember having my first meeting in Oculus during the pandemic; you really do get a sense of presence that goes beyond a Zoom call, so I can see a use case here for hybrid working.
At this price point, it’s hard to justify the Vision Pro for entertainment alone, so I feel we’re going to see a lot of industrial applications: digital twins, augmented manufacturing, tech-enhanced surgery etc.
The Vision Pro creates a ton of opportunity for educational institutions and companies to provide a more immersed learning experience, that helps us, as humans, retain more information. Give me Vision Pro Duo Lingo anytime, and allow me to walk through the streets of Tokyo, learning Japanese as I interact with digital (and real) humans.
I love the 3D camera and the ability to capture and relive cherished moments in an immersive environment. As social media pulls us apart, maybe this new platform can be designed to bring us together.
Technologically, it looks like it could live up to the hype in terms of proof of concept. However, with the announced price tag and the current form factor, marketing the device as consumer-focused could be far more challenging than the latest iPhone model. While Apple has a legacy of marrying design and emerging technologies in a status-evoking way, this will be a case of focusing on a smaller, targeted audience versus going more mass.
Given the opportunities around sports viewing (thanks to AppleTV’s major league licensing agreements) and content viewing, and the partnership of both Disney+ for immersive content and Unity for app development, this will be an interesting challenge when looking at the ‘chicken and egg’ challenge emerging technologies tend to have with content. The device demands high-calibre, exclusive, content-driven experiences to spark consumer investment, but developers will need to see a lucrative reason to design for potential Vision Pro audiences.
VR’s beauty (and challenge) is that it is a fully immersive experience, which requires you to block out the outside world. While it can be powerful, it’s also singular and can be isolating. Offering the ability to go between iterations of reality – augmented, mixed, etc. – provides options that enable consumers to utilise the headset for different facets of their professional and personal experiences and lives, giving it a more nuanced but wide-ranging experience offering.
Given the rate of change – technologically, economically and culturally – it’s hard to make a definitive decision on whether we’ll see mass adoption. However, as history has shown, counting Apple out doesn’t seem to be the winning strategy long-term. The App Store was an innovation, and that was the result of the iPhone coming to the market and creating this massive new marketplace for new businesses and ideas, i.e, apps.
We’ve yet to see content and experiences driven by spatial computing, because it hasn’t existed on a consumer level. Vision Pro is most likely a fraction of what it eventually will be, the question becomes: will that be next year or is that still 10 years away?
Rebecca> Because Vision Pro supports various activities such as the ability to toggle between browsing the web and virtually chatting, it seems to really expedite workflow. I feel this technology has the potential to be an increasingly useful tool for producers.
Nik> This is launching around the same time that AI is taking off I am curious how we might combine the two. The AR approach is different because we can interact with it. What does that mean for a brand? Regarding products, I think about how customers can touch, see, feel and really fall in love with a product in ways we never thought possible before. Brands might see huge growth spurts in sales because the customer gets interactivity without ever having to leave their home. I feel it could help a brand possibly cut down on returns.
Rebecca> We see it in many other places, but the first thing that comes to mind is gaming. Here at Native Foreign, we are working with a gaming client who is doing this exact idea and creating a fully immersive experience for players. In gaming, spatial audio typically enhances gameplay and overall immersion. It makes the games better. But there are other examples too - home entertainment, live concerts, you name it. We will also see more categories employing these additions as the technology advances.
Nik> I think this is a first-to-market play more than it is a tool for consumers, at the moment. If you remember the first iPhone, it actually didn’t get mass adoption right away. It took a few years before people started buying them. The Apple VR Pro is not a mainstream tool at the moment, and therefore, it might take another five years before people are using it on the regular. The potential is there, but the design also has to keep slimming down. I’m extremely curious to try it.
Although the size is still clumsy and a barrier, this is undoubtedly a generational shift in man-machine interfaces. The issue I have with it is how this is being marketed. It’s not built around an AR lens that you can see through, in the same vein as the Microsoft HoloLens. It’s a VR headset that presents a digital facsimile of your surroundings and your eyes to an external audience. This potentially allows your reality to be curated or edited in real-time.
If the purpose is to maximise personal productivity, then there are obvious benefits in terms of ease of workflow, an ability to maximise the fidelity of imagery and the fluent recognition and integration of Mac OS devices, but what’s the point of everyone going back to the office if everyone is sitting there using these?
From our professional use case here at Blacklist, the Apple Vision Pro will offer a much-improved experience in terms of navigating the 3D environments and experiential attractions we design. The device will also undoubtedly fuel a new horizon in Z depth-enabled video content creation. But, just as we see a renewed interest in real life socialised gaming concepts and venue design, the Apple Vision Pro promotes even more introversion and further distraction from living in the moment.
The potential of VR and AR has long been eulogised. Whilst great strides were made with more recent headsets, we’re hopeful that Apple Vision Pro will, ultimately, deliver on the value AR promises. History tells us that Apple is always at the very forefront of tech, and there’s no reason to think that this time is any different.
The world of content is always evolving, and there are always going to be new, exciting, and immersive ways to consume it. We’re here for it (Apple Vision Pro) and are prepared to adapt, wherever that journey may take us.
Its infinite canvas feature is particularly interesting from a workflow perspective; a possible game changer for designers currently using multiple screens to display apps - if (entirely) adopted by the likes of Adobe. Not to mention the positive impact that could have on a business’s carbon footprint.
It is already being deployed in other sectors, it’s just less sexy. Mechanical engineering, for example - where work is rehearsed using the headset before shutdown and maintenance and then used during service. Reduction in downtime saves huge amounts of money.
The possibilities really are vast, and not just from a monetary perspective. It has the potential to provide huge benefits - especially in training - for health and education sectors too.
Of course, it’s beautiful to look at it, but we’d expect nothing less from Apple. We’re looking forward to the journey it takes us on.
Haven’t we been here before? Remember the flashy 3D TVs that promised to change the way we consume entertainment? The thrill of the big screen at home was short-lived because of those pesky glasses and a 3D effect that was, well, just underwhelming.
Sure, the Vision Pro offers more than just 3D. It’s a personal theatre, an office, and even a camera, all while you lounge on the couch. But aren’t we forgetting something? The convenience of our smartphones, the comfort of a real-life chat, the simplicity of not wearing a device on your face - especially one that only lasts a few hours?
And there’s the question of its practicality - whether it’s for family fun or work. Can my partner and I really enjoy a movie night together with headsets on? Is 3D going to make my work more efficient or just more complicated?
That’s not to say I imagine it’ll be useless. But, I’m holding it to the same standard as the device in my pocket, the one on my wrist, the one in my backpack, and the one attached to the TV - all made by Apple.
The years of anticipation surrounding Apple's entry into this (unfairly) oft-ridiculed market was always going to make it a tough reveal for v1.
Arguably, the Vision Pro has a nicer, curvier design than other headsets, but it's fundamentally just a ski mask. And the idea of having a battery pack wired into your pocket isn't going to give you the street cred of the original white iPod cables, or even an Apple Watch. (Not that you'd probably want to leave home with it, given the 2hr battery life).
Aesthetics aside, the enterprise potential is clearly huge. Training and education will benefit massively from immersive experiences. But when it comes to personal use, until someone can demonstrate a domestic use case that's impossible without a headset on, I'm sceptical. The majority of services they're showcasing seem to give me access to things I can already do. Watching films, playing games, accessing my apps, or FaceTiming my family. I can do all these things without having to strap a headset on. And to think that the mixed reality version of FaceTime now involves having to speak to a deep fake version of your mum is frankly horrifying.
At a B2C level, fundamentally, it comes down to how keen we are to put on the hardware, and as the short-lived 3DTV craze showed, domestic wearable tech has its limitations. So for now, I'm not convinced. If I'm expected to strap a device like this on my head for long periods of time, I think I'd probably rather be bombing it down the Alps.