Wall Street Journal gadget reviewer Joanna Stern got to try out Apple’s new Vision Pro. She seems to like it!
But one comment she made and the photo she took has me a little worried about Apple’s new “face computer,” as Stern calls it.
“By the end of the demo, the top of my nose and forehead started to feel the weight,” Stern says in the video.
The she says, “here’s a photo of me when I took it off” and the video cuts to this picture…
If you look long enough, you can see red marks on her forehead and nose.
Stern’s video then zooms in, the contrast and lighting shifts, and you see this…
That looks uncomfortable. And it wasn’t the only usability knock Stern reported in her first impressions — she also reported feeling the weight of the device on her nose and forehead as the 30-minute demo continued, along with some nausea.
Apple told Stern any discomfort she encountered after wearing Vision Pro goggles may have been because it only had limited-sized “light seals” in the demonstration space. Those are the fabric-covered pieces of the goggles which fit the headset to your face.
Stern says the company told him there will be more options when the device is available early next year. Apple did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for additional comments ahead of publication.
Longterm comfort while wearing a VR or AR headset has been a concern for device-makers for years, as they try to balance cramming high-end technology and batteries into something that needs to be strapped firmly to your face and kept in place.
When the first Oculus Rift was launched, Insider tech reviewer Ben Gilbert took a picture showing it left red marks on his forehead and cheeks — an issue other reviewers ran into that would later become a bit of a meme.
That’s why pretty much every headset out there, like the Meta Quest 2, uses plastic for the main enclosure of the device — it’s lightweight and can take some of the strain off your forehead and nose. The downside is that it can look cheaper in quality.
Apple’s Vision Pro is constructed of aluminum alloy and a snazzy single piece of exterior glass, which is why it looks so much nicer than the competition. But those materials add to the overall weight of the device, so Apple helps minimize that with a unique strap design and by offloading the device’s battery to an iPhone-sized pack that goes in your pocket.
It’s not the minimal, self-contained device that Apple reportedly had in mind originally, and it just goes to show that there are design and comfort tradeoffs even for Apple.
We’ll have a better sense of what Apple’s approach means for the long-term comfort of the Vision Pro over prolonged use when it launches into the wild next year.
In the meantime, you can watch everything Stern had to say here (he talks about the face picture around the 1-minute 30-second mark):
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