Apple unveils its virtual reality headset. It will cost you more than $3,000 : NPR

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Apple launched a new virtual reality, or VR, headset. It was its first major new product launch in a decade.



STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Apple has introduced its first new product in a decade. The company calls it a mixed reality headset. And it’s a little more expensive than an iPhone, about $3,500. NPR tech correspondent Dara Kerr followed the launch. And we should note Apple is a financial contributor to NPR.

DARA KERR, BYLINE: CEO Tim Cook couldn’t contain his excitement at the end of Apple’s big annual event for its developers.

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TIM COOK: It’s already been a big day. But we do have one more thing.

KERR: That one more thing is called Vision Pro. It’s a virtual and augmented reality headset and looks a bit like oversized ski goggles. When you wear it, you can overlay a digital world on top of a real one so you can shop, read news articles or FaceTime with friends. You control it with your eyes, hands and voice. Throughout the presentation, Cook showed videos of people wearing and using the headset and described what it does.

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COOK: With Vision Pro, you’re no longer limited by a display. Your surroundings become an infinite canvas.

KERR: VR and AR headsets have been around for years. Google Glass came out more than a decade ago. Facebook has introduced several versions of its Oculus in recent years. But these products never really took off, so a lot is at stake for Apple, which is known as a juggernaut for making products people like to use. Still, the device covers half of your face, says Bob O’Donnell. He’s the president of TECHnalysis Research and was at the event on Monday.

BOB O’DONNELL: And you can’t help but think that’s a little bit isolating and awkward.

KERR: Then there’s the external battery pack you have to carry around.

O’DONNELL: So you got a wire coming from your head to this battery pack, you know, about the size of a deck of cards, it looks like. And it only lasts two hours.

KERR: And there’s also the price. I asked O’Donnell the crowd’s reaction when they heard it was $3,500.

O’DONNELL: A lot of kind of heavy sighs and ahs.

KERR: Apple seems to be trying to lure younger audiences by partnering with heavy hitters like Disney. The headset won’t be available until next year. And the price tag means it’s not going for the masses. LA Times tech columnist Brian Merchant joked about it on Twitter, saying, for $3,500, I will personally come to your house and move your couch closer to the TV.

Dara Kerr, NPR News.

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