Apple has made a grand entrance into augmented reality (AR) with its Vision Pro headset. After years of development, Apple’s headset offers a window into the tech-dominated future.
Revealed at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on Monday, June 5, this high-end device showcases Apple’s technical and design expertise. The Vision Pro, priced at $3,499, is set to revolutionize the AR landscape by seamlessly blending virtual and physical reality through high-resolution displays and powerful processing capabilities.
At the same time, the device highlights the importance of decentralized technology, including blockchain and crypto. Decentralized tech will become essential in a world where technology permeates every aspect of our lives.
Apple’s Vision Pro Is Not The Metaverse
Apple’s Vision Pro, with its remarkable features, offers a glimpse into a future where the lines between physical and virtual reality become blurred. However, the device is conspicuously missing some aspects that would make for an authentic shared virtual reality experience – the Metaverse.
As envisioned by Meta and other tech companies, Metaverse is a persistent, shared, and collaborative virtual space at the convergence between virtually enhanced physical reality and physically persistent virtual reality.
Interestingly, blockchain technology, with its decentralized nature, is the ideal platform for creating and maintaining these shared digital spaces. This is why there is a significant overlap between metaverse and blockchain projects.
This shared, collaborative space transcending individual platforms or devices goes far beyond what Apple presented at WWDC. With Vision Pro, each user is in charge of their own AR experience. The device is fundamentally an interface for a single user.
This does not mean that Apple may not launch shared experiences in the future. Currently, Apple’s developer resources have references to multi-user AR experiences based on ARKit and RealityKit tools.
However, these don’t seem to be the platform’s main focus, at least for now. Moreover, there is no mention of decentralized ledger technology (DLT) in Apple’s dev resources, despite its potential to power shared virtual experiences.
Interestingly, shared experiences are exactly what Facebook (now Meta) focused on with its so-far unsuccessful metaverse initiative. By not incorporating blockchain tech, Apple is missing out on an opportunity to become a dominant player in the metaverse space.
One Company, Not Even Apple, Can’t Build the Metaverse Alone
Another reason why Apple may be hesitant to use blockchain tech is its open and decentralized nature. The open-source blockchain goes against Apple’s secretive, build-it-alone attitude and preference for proprietary tech. However, that attitude may become an issue for Apple in its race for the metaverse.
Building the metaverse is a colossal task that cannot be accomplished by a single company, not even one as powerful as Apple. The metaverse, in its true form, is a shared, decentralized space that is created and maintained by its users. This means that creating the metaverse requires a collaborative effort that embraces the open-source ethos and allows people to build freely.
Interestingly, most big tech companies understand this. Back in June 2022, Facebook and Microsoft, Nvidia, Sony, and 32 other companies, joined the Metaverse Standards Forum. The group has agreed to collaborate on creating open standards for metaverse, to ensure interoperability. Interestingly, Apple did not join the Metaverse Standards Forum.
In May 2022, Meta’s President of Global Affairs, Nick Clegg, stated that Facebook is committed to building an “open and interoperable Metaverse,” where big tech companies and startups will work together on a level playing field. This vision seemingly differs from what Apple is offering.
If Apple is to succeed in its AR ambitions, it will need to embrace this ethos and adapt its approach. Otherwise, it risks being left behind in the race to build the metaverse.
Vision Pro: Window into a World Controlled by Apple
The Vision Pro AR headset, like any Apple product, operates within Apple’s ecosystem. This means that Apple controls the user’s AR experience. Given AR technology’s immersive and all-encompassing nature, this is a concerning prospect.
Imagine a future where AR technology is as ubiquitous as smartphones are today. In such a world, a single corporation controlling our digital interactions is a dystopian scenario. It’s not just about privacy concerns, although those are significant. It’s about the potential for manipulation and control.
One Twitter user highlighted this issue with a post joking about a feature Apple users aren’t too happy about. The intrusive iCloud storage message prompts users to subscribe to Apple cloud service and doesn’t go away unless they do.
On the other hand, developers are also not entirely happy with many of Apple’s decisions. For instance, the exorbitant 30% App Store fees on all in-app purchases. These fees have put Apple in the crosshairs of startups and tech moguls like Twitter’s Elon Musk or Spotify.
Apple, like all other companies, has incentives that sometimes don’t align with those of their users or other participants on its platform. Like any other company, Apple puts the interests of its shareholders first. This creates a dangerous set of circumstances, which will become an even more urgent problem when one company controls virtual spaces deeply integrated with our everyday reality.
Decentralization is the answer to this problem. Decentralizing AR tech ensures that control over the digital world is distributed, not concentrated in the hands of one (or a few) tech companies. This is the only way to foster innovation and competition, making the digital world as diverse and vibrant as the physical one.
On the Flipside
- Apple’s reputation for creating user-friendly, high-quality products could help bring AR technology into the mainstream.
- Furthermore, the release of the Vision Pro could inspire other tech companies to create their own AR devices. In particular, some could even build open-source versions that align more closely with the decentralized ethos of the metaverse.
Why This Matters
As AR technology becomes more integrated into our daily lives, the decisions made by tech giants like Apple will increasingly shape our experiences and interactions. This highlights the potential risks for privacy, data security, and the potential for misuse.
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