The hype train for the Apple AR/VR headset is building up steam ahead of its expected announcement at WWDC 2023, with the Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey seemingly impressed with the mixed-reality wearable.
A recent Twitter post (opens in new tab) from Luckey (below) makes the pithy claim that “The Apple headset is so good”. While the Oculus Rift creator didn’t expand on this early verdict on Apple’s headset, a follow-up comment suggests it is based on some first-hand knowledge of the device.
When asked if his contacts within Apple have “high confidence” in the product’s launch, Luckey agreed – although he stopped short of revealing if he’d spent any quality time with the AR/VR headset, which is rumored to be called either the Apple Reality One or the Apple Reality Pro.
Naturally, we can’t draw any big conclusions from such a brief, off-the-cuff remark, even if it does come from VR’s biggest pioneer. But the comments do chime with some previous thoughts on VR headsets from Palmer Luckey, who we branded as one of the great tech innovators of the 2010s.
Back in 2018, Luckey said that mainstream VR adoption wasn’t being held back by price, but rather the “quality of experience”. He called for “better hardware, broader content, and a deep understanding of how to best interface with a human perceptual system that varies significantly across age, gender, and race”.
Since then, Meta has certainly made strides towards achieving that, with the company selling nearly 20 million Quest headsets to date, according to a leaked internal Meta presentation shared with The Verge (opens in new tab).
But those seemingly impressive figures also mask some apparent issues with keeping Meta Quest fans interested in the VR headset, after they’ve bought it. In the leaked presentation, Meta’s vice president for VR apparently told employees that recent buyers of the Meta Quest were “just not as into it” or as engaged as “the ones who bought it early.”
It’s these issues, hinted at by those earlier Luckey comments, that Apple could be attempting to remedy with its AR/VR headset. The considerable downside to this user experience, though, will likely be cost, with Apple’s headset expected to cost in the region of $3,000 / $2,200 / AU$4,400.
A premium mixed-reality experience?
Palmer Luckey’s previous blog post (opens in new tab) on the VR headset pricing, headlined “Free isn’t cheap enough”, makes for fascinating reading almost five years on, particularly in light of his tweet about the Apple VR headset.
Luckey clearly wasn’t enamored with the more affordable direction Oculus was headed in, saying that “cost-cutting can only take you so far”. Instead, he talked up the impact of an uncompromising “full-dive virtual reality experience that is absolutely indistinguishable from the most thrilling lucid dream”.
Whether or not Apple’s mixed-reality headset can provide anything close to this remains to be seen. But if the headset does indeed cost in the region of $3,000 / $2,200 / AU$4,400, it will surely need to get somewhere close to that.
Recent rumors suggest that Apple will effectively throw every AR and VR feature at the wall with its first mixed-reality headset, with the experiences expected to include everything from fitness workouts to games and new ways to watch TV.
And despite apparent production issues, which could limit early availability, it looks like the Reality One or Reality Pro is still on track for a long-anticipated unveiling at WWDC 2023.