Apple Vision Pro: First Glimpse of the Future of Computing at The Garage

The Garage acquired the Apple Vision Pro headset - keep reading for Jake's thoughts on the tech!
Jake Juracka
Feb 13, 2024
The Apple Vision Pro in use at The Garage

If you had told me 4 years ago that I would be first in line at an Apple Store to pick up a brand new product, I wouldn’t have believed you. I am not, nor have I ever been, an Apple person. I’ve been using an Android Phone ever since switching from Windows Phone, always prefer Windows to MacOS, and the last Apple product I personally owned was the iPod Touch 4th Generation when I was 13.

But despite all this, I was still incredibly excited to try the Apple Vision Pro, for a number of reasons. First and foremost being the fact that Apple, the largest tech company in the world, is investing in Virtual reality technology. Even if they don't want to call it “VR”, Apple is jumping into a product category that I've been very heavily invested in since 2016, when I first tried the early VR offerings from Valve and Oculus. For years, I've been seeing this technology slowly advance and pick up more users, but something was still missing for this to go mainstream. The devices felt cheap and plastic-y, the software experience varied wildly from headset to headset, and interacting with these headsets felt clunky compared to the effortless interaction we have with touchscreens. We needed a company to develop a complete product, which integrates hardware and software to create a smooth and seamless experience for the user. For lack of a better term, we needed the “iPhone” of VR headsets.

And who better to do that than Apple? We've known for a few years that Apple was developing a headset, but I was still surprised when it was finally announced at WWDC. I was further intrigued by the level of polish that this device clearly had. This certainly wasn't just an iPad with a 3D screen. Apple has developed VisionOS from the ground up to support what they call “Spatial Computing”, which is essentially Apple's catch-all term which covers Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. It was clear from the promotional videos alone that Apple had a clear vision for how they intended for this device to be used, and it made me very excited to try it out.

The Vision Pro in use at The Garage.

That opportunity finally came on February 2nd, when I was able to secure a unit for The Garage and bring it back to Campus. Holding it in my hands, I was immediately struck by the build quality of the Vision Pro. After a decade of using VR headsets made of plastic, it felt nice to hold and wear the Vision Pro, which utilizes Aluminum, glass, and high quality fabric in its construction. Putting it on, it is immediately clear that this is something altogether different from other headsets on the market. Unlike most VR headsets, which immediately place you in a synthetic environment, the first thing you see when putting on the Vision Pro is your immediate surroundings. Vision Pro is equipped with incredibly high quality cameras on the exterior of the device, which allows the opaque headset to feel more like a transparent set of ski goggles than the fully closed headset it is.

The Vision Pro’s next magic trick is allowing you to place any of its catalog of apps physically in your space. You can place a virtual 100 inch screen on any wall, wall around full size 3D objects on your floor, or even take your MacBook display and make it huge above your desk. If reality is too boring for you, you can also close out your surroundings altogether, replacing your environment with a selection of beautiful 3D natural vistas, from Joshua Tree, to Hawaii, to the Moon.

Interacting with all these apps, interfaces, and environments is effortless, borders on magical with Apple’s excellent use of eye tracking. You simply look at what you want to select and bring your finger and thumb together. This type of interaction is something I hope becomes an industry standard for VR devices, much in the same way the touchscreen has become the primary input for handheld devices.

That’s not to say it's all perfect. While Apple’s first foray into VR has been very carefully planned and well executed, there are still lots of things that other headsets on the market do much better than Vision Pro. Shared experiences, where two headset wearers can interact with each other and a shared environment in real time, is not possible on Vision Pro. Furthermore, nearly all of my favorite VR games that have thousands of players, simply do not work on Vision Pro, due to the device’s lack of controllers. Apple seems to have prioritized features like multitasking with several 2D windows in your space, rather than creating fully interactive virtual environments.

Despite all this, I can’t help but love using the Apple Vision Pro. I’m very excited to make this piece of equipment available to our students and to see how they can fit this capable device into their workflow here at The Garage! Our students are able to sign up with us to experience this new piece of technology in person starting this week!

About the Author

Jake Juracka is the Technology Manager at The Garage. He's a graduate of DePaul University with a Bachelor of Science in Game Design. He's passionate about 3D printing, fabrication, and helping students execute their creative visions in our Makerspace.