Apple Releases Vision Pro Headset, First Major New Product in a Decade | Kanebridge News
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Apple Releases Vision Pro Headset, First Major New Product in a Decade

Announcement at Worldwide Developers Conference is first to introduce users to ‘spatial computing,’ CEO Tim Cook says

Tue, Jun 6, 2023 8:49amGrey Clock 4 min

Apple unveiled the Vision Pro headset, the company’s first major new product in a decade, a device capable of allowing users to experience virtual reality and digital apps, movies, personal photos or any content available on a computer monitor overlaid on the real world.

Chief Executive Tim Cook said in a video at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference that the Vision Pro is “a revolutionary new product” capable of shifting “the way we look at technology and the role it plays in our lives.”

“This is a day that’s been years in the making,” he said. “Blending digital content with the real world can unlock experiences like nothing we’ve ever seen.”

Apple said the device, which will sell for $3,499 and won’t be available until early next year, would be a new way to interact with digital content in the physical space using the user’s hands, eyes and voice to interact with apps. Users can control the device with their hands and experience movies, TV shows and games in a more immersive way. Cook called it a new “spatial computing” platform.

The Vision Pro can project a massive movie screen into any environment for a user, as well as capture or play three-dimensional video, making it possible for a user to watch a movie on a giant screen or interact with life-size personal photos or videos projected into their living environment.

Apple’s headset launches into an uncertain market for virtual and augmented reality devices. Headset sales grew at a fast clip during the pandemic, doubling to nearly 11 million units shipped in 2021. But they dropped 21% to 8.6 million units in 2022, according to researcher International Data Corp.

Meta Platforms, which has mostly dominated the market to date with its Quest virtual-reality headsets, has struggled to keep existing users engaged, with more than half of the $400 entry-level Quest headsets not in use six months after they were purchased, The Wall Street Journal reported previously. Last week, Meta said the Meta Quest 3 headset, which the company is promoting as similar to Apple’s Vision Pro, will be available in the fall of this year for $499.

Apple announced a partnership with Walt Disney, which showed in a pre taped video what viewing experiences could potentially look like, including an immersive Star Wars TV show and a function allowing users to watch multiple sporting events simultaneously. A digital version of the Disneyland theme park could project into the user’s physical world.

“We’re constantly in search of new ways to entertain, inform and inspire our fans,” Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger said in a pre taped video. “We believe Apple Vision Pro is a revolutionary platform.” He said Disney’s streaming service would be available on the device as soon as it reaches users, which Apple said initially would only be in the U.S.

Apple showed the headset being used in work environments, including an ability to project a screen akin to a modern desktop in a way that could replace a computer monitor. Users can also use Bluetooth devices such as keyboards to type.

Some features on the device are meant to avoid isolating a user, Apple executives said. Vision Pro displays the user’s eyes on the outside of the device with a screen sitting on the front of the device. And if somebody comes nearby to someone with the headset on, it will show the person.

The headset will have the M2 chip found in the company’s Macs and will also have a new chip called “R1” for processing data from the many cameras, sensors and microphones in the device. This enables the Vision Pro to limit latency, a common issue in virtual-reality headsets that causes motion sickness. Apple said it would have a high-resolution display system so video would render in 4K and text would look sharp.

Apple has been working on the headset for seven years and has delayed the launch several times, the Journal previously reported. The headset is far more expensive than headsets sold by rivals, such as Meta Platforms’ most expensive Quest Pro headset at $1,000.

Although Apple showcased many potential features and uses of the Vision Pro headset, the company’s announcement at its software conference points to its interest in how third-party software makers can add new functions.

Hundreds of thousands of apps that already exist on iPad and iPhone operating systems will also be available through Vision OS, the Vision Pro’s operating system. Apple told developers that it is introducing tools to let them redesign existing apps on other Apple platforms for the Vision Pro, or create new types of three-dimensional apps.

The rest of the conference, which focuses on software providers who make applications for Apple’s ecosystem, will run through Friday. A large portion of the developer sessions for the week will be focused on developing for the headset, the Journal reported previously.

The applications, which might run the gamut from games to workplace apps, are critical to the company’s strategy of drawing potential new users to the technology, which has yet to take off among a broad consumer base.

In the weeks leading up to the conference, many software makers working on virtual reality and other similar applications have received invitations to the event held at Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters. Apple booked in-person demonstrations for some developers following the Monday keynote.

In addition to the headset, the company launched a number of new software features for its existing slate of devices, including a new iPhone app called Journal for users to help them write about their days. The app prompts users to “practice gratitude” and technology to help capture moments from photos or travel experiences. The Wall Street Journal previously reported about the new app.

In its Health app, the company added an ability to log a user’s mood and state of mind. Apple said this will help users to see their current risk for depression or anxiety. The company has been involved in studying potential signals of depression with the University of California, Los Angeles. The Journal previously reported on Apple’s work on mental health.

Apple’s iOS 17 has a number of updates to help improve communication features in the company’s phone app, FaceTime and messages, including new artificial-intelligence techniques to improve typing on the keyboard and dictation.

Apple showed off a new 15-inch MacBook Air, which has an M2 chip and sells for $1,299. The company unveiled other upgrades to its M-series of chips in other Mac products as well aimed at professional users. Sales of Macs have fallen off recently following a surge during the pandemic after the company unveiled the M-series of chips, which it designed. In the company’s most recently reported earnings for the quarter ended April 1, the Mac business shrank 31% from the prior year.

Apple’s new Mac operating system, called Sonoma, includes a number of new features designed to improve video games.

Japanese game developer Hideo Kojima showed up in a video to support the new gaming initiatives, announcing that his latest game, “Death Stranding,” would be launching on Macs later this year.

AirPods headphones also have new features, including software that automatically adjusts the AirPods to the environment the user is in, such as turning on noise cancellation if it is noisy.


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Italy, Land of Uncollected Garbage, Combines Running With Trash Pickup

At the World Plogging Championship, contestants have lugged in tires, TVs and at least one Neapolitan coffee maker

Wed, Oct 4, 2023 4 min

GENOA, Italy—Renato Zanelli crossed the finish line with a rusty iron hanging from his neck while pulling 140 pounds of trash on an improvised sled fashioned from a slab of plastic waste.

Zanelli, a retired IT specialist, flashed a tired smile, but he suspected his garbage haul wouldn’t be enough to defend his title as world champion of plogging—a sport that combines running with trash collecting.

A rival had just finished the race with a chair around his neck and dragging three tires, a television and four sacks of trash. Another crossed the line with muscles bulging, towing a large refrigerator. But the strongest challenger was Manuel Jesus Ortega Garcia, a Spanish plumber who arrived at the finish pulling a fridge, a dishwasher, a propane gas tank, a fire extinguisher and a host of other odds and ends.

“The competition is intense this year,” said Zanelli. Now 71, he used his fitness and knack for finding trash to compete against athletes half his age. “I’m here to help the environment, but I also want to win.”

Italy, a land of beauty, is also a land of uncollected trash. The country struggles with chronic littering, inefficient garbage collection in many cities, and illegal dumping in the countryside of everything from washing machines to construction waste. Rome has become an emblem of Italy’s inability to fix its trash problem.

So it was fitting that at the recent World Plogging Championship more than 70 athletes from 16 countries tested their talents in this northern Italian city. During the six hours of the race, contestants collect points by racking up miles and vertical distance, and by carrying as much trash across the finish line as they can. Trash gets scored based on its weight and environmental impact. Batteries and electronic equipment earn the most points.

A mobile app ensures runners stay within the race’s permitted area, approximately 12 square miles. Athletes have to pass through checkpoints in the rugged, hilly park. They are issued gloves and four plastic bags to fill with garbage, and are also allowed to carry up to three bulky finds, such as tires or TVs.

Genoa, a gritty industrial port city in the country’s mountainous northwest, has a trash problem that gets worse the further one gets away from its relatively clean historic core. The park that hosted the plogging championship has long been plagued by garbage big and small.

“It’s ironic to have the World Plogging Championship in a country that’s not always as clean as it could be. But maybe it will help bring awareness and things will improve,” said Francesco Carcioffo, chief executive of Acea Pinerolese Industriale, an energy and recycling company that’s been involved in sponsoring and organizing the race since its first edition in 2021. All three world championships so far have been held in Italy.

Events that combine running and trash-collecting go back to at least 2010. The sport gained traction about seven years ago when a Swede, Erik Ahlström, coined the name plogging, a mashup of plocka upp, Swedish for “pick up,” and jogging.

“If you don’t have a catchy name you might as well not exist,” said Roberto Cavallo, an Italian environmental consultant and longtime plogger, who is on the world championship organizing committee together with Ahlström.

Saturday’s event brought together a mix of wiry trail runners and environmental activists, some of whom looked less like elite athletes.

“We like plogging because it makes us feel a little less guilty about the way things are going with the environment,” said Elena Canuto, 29, as she warmed up before the start. She came in first in the women’s ranking two years ago. “This year I’m taking it a bit easier because I’m three months pregnant.”

Around two-thirds of the contestants were Italians. The rest came from other European countries, as well as Japan, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico, Algeria, Ghana and Senegal.

“I hope to win so people in Senegal get enthusiastic about plogging,” said Issa Ba, a 30-year-old Senegalese-born factory worker who has lived in Italy for eight years.

“Three, two, one, go,” Cavallo shouted over a loudspeaker, and the athletes sprinted off in different directions. Some stopped 20 yards from the starting line to collect their first trash. Others took off to be the first to exploit richer pickings on wooded hilltops, where batteries and home appliances lay waiting.

As the hours went by, the athletes crisscrossed trails and roads, their bags became heavier. They tagged their bulky items and left them at roadsides for later collection. Contestants gathered at refreshment points, discussing what they had found as they fueled up on cookies and juice. Some contestants had brought their own reusable cups.

With 30 minutes left in the race, athletes were gathering so much trash that the organisers decided to tweak the rules: in addition to their four plastic bags, contestants could carry six bulky objects over the finish line rather than three.

“I know it’s like changing the rules halfway through a game of Monopoly, but I know I can rely on your comprehension,” Cavallo announced over the PA as the athletes braced for their final push to the finish line.

The rule change meant some contestants could almost double the weight of their trash, but others smelled a rat.

“That’s fantastic that people found so much stuff, but it’s not really fair to change the rules at the last minute,” said Paul Waye, a Dutch plogging evangelist who had passed up on some bulky trash because of the three-item rule.

Senegal will have to wait at least a year to have a plogging champion. Two hours after the end of Saturday’s race, Ba still hadn’t arrived at the finish line.

“My phone ran out of battery and I got lost,” Ba said later at the awards ceremony. “I’ll be back next year, but with a better phone.”

The race went better for Canuto. She used an abandoned shopping cart to wheel in her loot. It included a baby stroller, which the mother-to-be took as a good omen. Her total haul weighed a relatively modest 100 pounds, but was heavy on electronic equipment, which was enough for her to score her second triumph.

“I don’t know if I’ll be back next year to defend my title. The baby will be six or seven months old,” she said.

In the men’s ranking, Ortega, the Spanish plumber, brought in 310 pounds of waste, racked up more than 16 miles and climbed 7,300 feet to run away with the title.

Zanelli, the defending champion, didn’t make it onto the podium. He said he would take solace from the nearly new Neapolitan coffee maker he found during the first championship two years ago. “I’ll always have my victory and the coffee maker, which I polished and now display in my home,” he said.

Contestants collected more than 6,600 pounds of trash. The haul included fridges, bikes, dozens of tires, baby seats, mattresses, lead pipes, stoves, chairs, TVs, 1980s-era boomboxes with cassettes still inside, motorcycle helmets, electric fans, traffic cones, air rifles, a toilet and a soccer goal.

“This park hasn’t been this clean since the 15 century,” said Genoa’s ambassador for sport, Roberto Giordano.


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