Will Apple’s eyeglasses, Reality Pro, accelerate the shift to the metaverse and the Virtual Renaissance?

  • The tech world is waiting with bated breath for Apple’s expected announcement of its new mixed-reality eyeglasses, reputed to be called Reality Pro, on June 5 at its WWDC event. As customary for Apple, it hasn’t confirmed the eyeglasses’ existence, even though it’s been widely reported by the major media, including the New York Times and Wall St. Journal. Apple’s slogan for its June 5th event teases: “Code new worlds.”
  • Hello, metaverse?
  • The rumors and expectations of the new Apple MR eyeglasses have already prompted the Wall Street Journal to cover it extensively, making the expected announcement seem like a foregone conclusion.
Did Chatgpt kill the metaverse?
  • When AI and ChatGPT took the world by storm in late December 2022, one popular narrative was that the metaverse was dead. That view was driven by the perception that Mark Zuckerberg had scrapped Meta’s ambitious plans to build a metaverse that could be accessed through its Oculus headset, and instead was all-in on AI, despite Zuckerberg’s assurance he hadn’t abandoned the company’s plan for the metaverse.
  • Even Matthew Ball, the author of the book “The Metaverse: And How It Will Revolutionize Everything,” was quoted by the New York Times as admitting that “the difficulty of the problem [to create technology for the metaverse] has been far greater than anyone expected.”
  • Of course, to understand if the metaverse is dead, we must understand what it is.
  • Its etymology traces back to Neal Stephenson’s 1992 sci-fi novel Snow Crash, in which the metaverse is a virtual world, accessed by computers, that people experienced using avatars.
  • I think it’s a mistake, though, to think of the metaverse as simply an avatar-based world, such as Meta’s Horizon Worlds. The concept is much broader. In my book Creators Take Control, I adopt a more expansive view: the metaverse is any world mediated through technology that escapes or goes beyond our physical world.
  • For example, the advent of motion pictures in the early 20th century created a metaverse. When people go to watch movies on the “big screen,” they enter a metaverse, a world imagined by the filmmaker. A movie is successful only if the audience believes the narrative of the movie, escaping the physical world while watching it. If they don’t, the movie is a failure.
  • Screens are telltale signs of the metaverse. Just think of television, computers, video games, smartphones, and social media. They all create virtual worlds beyond the physical world. If you spend 5 minutes on TikTok, especially the LIVE streaming, you’ll quickly realize we already live in the metaverse, as Megan Garber explained in a cover story for The Atlantic.
Will Apple’s eyeglasses spur the metaverse and the Virtual Renaissance?
  • There’s no guarantee Apple’s eyeglasses will succeed in garnering widespread adoption where other tech companies making headsets, including Meta, Microsoft, and Sony, have faced tepid sales. The expected price of $3,000 for Apple’s eyeglasses is likely to deter many people, even Apple devotees and would-be first adopters, especially in these tough economic times.
  • As with most new technologies, the key to success is to develop something easy to use, intuitive, and stylish, that both dazzles—the wow factor—and does something that people need. In other words, the product must be cool, but useful. The speculation is that Apple will do so by making its eyeglasses compatible with apps that people want to use, such as it did masterfully with the iPhone.
  • Apple’s MR eyeglasses may accelerate the societal shift to the virtual world. Adding to the big screen for motion pictures and the small screens of smartphones, the MR eyeglasses will shift the screens closer to our eyes, which has the potential to make the visual experience far more immersive. It also promises to “mix” virtual elements with real-world elements we encounter.
  • The following tweet imagines what this immersive experience might look like:
  • Time will tell whether Apple can succeed where others have foundered. The history of innovation has taught us one important lesson: it only takes one new technology to spark a revolution.