Liverpool Hope Logo Liverpool Hope Logo
Liverpool Hope Logo

Expert Comment: Is Apple Vision Pro the dawn of Metaverse 2.0?

A man and a women playing a game whilst wearing virtual reality headsets.

How will Apple's new XR headset - the Vision Pro - impact the evolution of the Metaverse? David Reid, Professor of AI and Spatial Computing, shares his thoughts in our latest expert comment. 

Mark Twain and the Metaverse have something in common.

In both cases, the news of their respective deaths was greatly exaggerated.

In the early 1990s, whilst I was creating some of the first websites in the world, many were predicting the imminent demise of the internet. The Web was a simple, heavily text based, system back then.

But the internet didn’t die, it just changed.

In 1995 people said no one would buy anything on the Web, that websites will never be as popular as newspapers, and even that it would become overloaded and explode! Later that year Amazon opened its first bookshop online, a new language made for the Web called Java was created and IBM was pioneering the idea of a “smartphone” with their IBM Simon.

A couple of years later the Web changed again; a startup called Google was created, and searching rather than “browsing” was in. A few years after that, Facebook was created and social media exploded onto the scene.

Just like the internet, the Metaverse will also evolve.

The next stage of this evolution may have taken place this week. Monday 5 June 2023 may become significant, and not just to people like me. Why? Because Apple have now released their first XR headset - the Vision Pro.

And guess what? On the radio, all I heard was this remarkable piece of kit being downplayed. But I’d argue that this development is significant for two reasons.

When Apple gets involved, it is a major disrupter to the market. They are rarely first to the fight, but when they do get stuck in, they exert massive influence. Computers existed before the Apple II and the Macintosh, digital audio players existed before the iPod, smartphones existed well before the iPhone, and tablets existed before the iPad….but the technology world was rocked after each Apple launch.

Apple is producing a VR device that is different to what has come before. It may be doing this because the Metaverse is evolving into an XR (or mixed reality) space. Similarly, a number of new XR products are to be launched this year from different companies. Meta is launching their Quest 3 (an XR device) in late September and Google is teaming up with Samsung and Qualcomm to release another XR device by the autumn.

My prediction? That this could be the dawn of Metaverse 2.0.

It will be interesting to see how both the nature and function of the Metaverse will be influenced by technological advances such as XR (and AI), just as the Web was influenced by technological changes back in 1995.

Certainly, Apple see their new headset as a serious device…it is around £3000! So, it is not just for gamers, but creatives and professionals. It has even been suggested that this may be the next evolution of computing to dethrone the laptop and the smartphone. In five or ten years we could be saying, remember when we used to have to look down at a phone for our information? How quaint!

Whatever happens over the coming year, and how Apple, Meta and Google respond, will be pivotal for the future of VR, XR and the development of the Metaverse.

Maybe, just maybe, there is life in the old (Metaverse) dog yet?

Published on 07/06/2023