Tech week: Mixed reviews for mixed reality

In the realm of mixed reality, instead of replacing your surroundings like virtual reality, it enhances them by overlaying digital content—a concept also known as extended reality (XR), encompassing virtual, augmented, and mixed reality. Leading the pack is the Apple Vision Pro, a groundbreaking mixed-reality headset that sets the bar high with its technical prowess and unparalleled immersive experience. On the other hand, Meta Quest 3 has carved a niche among gamers, the primary audience showing a keen interest in mixed reality thus far. While Apple is branding the mixed-reality adventure as “spatial computing,” the lack of compelling applications begs the question—could it be a solution without a problem, a product rooted in optimism?

The landscape evolving, one tech giant is advancing into mixed reality while another is retreating. Microsoft recently announced the discontinuation of Windows Mixed Reality, the virtual reality platform for PCs, marking the end of an era. With negligible new VR headsets entering the market, the fate of devices like HP Reverb and even the HoloLens 3 appears grim. Microsoft’s abrupt exit from the mixed-reality arena, despite its heavy investment less than a decade ago, is a stark reminder of the fickle nature of technology trends. The absence of virtual reality support for Xbox further confounds the scenario, emphasizing the potential dormancy until mixed-reality innovations find a place in everyday eyewear.

Recognizing the allure of mainstream appeal, Meta is spreading its wings beyond VR headsets by venturing into the realm of everyday eyewear with their Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses—a bold move to combine style with functionality that outshines even Apple’s hardware offerings. While the corporate world has seen the implementation of mixed reality in various facets, such as aiding frontline workers in construction or assisting astronauts in space, the consumer market paints a different picture. Meta Quest 2 sparked initial interest in XR but failed to sustain momentum, highlighting the lack of groundbreaking hardware and software innovations to captivate consumers outside the tech bubble.

See also  Tech Conferences & Events for Your 2024 Calendar

Despite the challenges, the launch of Apple’s Vision Pro could breathe new life into the mixed-reality landscape, potentially benefiting other players like Meta and Sony, with the latter launching the Sony PSVR2. Industry analysts anticipate a resurgence in XR headset shipments in the coming years, pointing towards a promising future for mixed reality. Reports of Samsung collaborating with Google to develop a rival XR/VR headset to compete with Apple underscore the fierce competition as companies vie for a piece of the mixed-reality pie. With Apple’s colossal resources and industry influence, the anticipated content push could pave the way for mixed reality’s mainstream acceptance.