When Apple introduced the Vision Pro at WWDC23, the changes to Siri didn’t get much mention at all. But the new feature EyeSight sure did. What is it, and why is it important to adoption of the device? EyeSight allows both Vision Pro wearers to see their surroundings, and, importantly, it allows others to see the Vision Pro wearer’s eyes. Why does this matter? The former is fairly obvious — when people wear a Virtual Reality headset, it completely blocks their view of what’s in their midst. Not being able to see who’s calling you might matter, and no one wants to bump into a can of soda and spill it all over their desk because they didn’t see it. But not having visual awareness of one’s surroundings can lead to much worse outcomes as well — tripping, falling, or even injuring oneself or perhaps others! So seeing who and what is near you is obviously helpful.
That’s all fairly self-evident. But why is it important for others to see you when you’re wearing a headset? The obvious reason is for a sense of feeling connected to the headset wearer, whether it’s to engage in some short conversation or just to get an acknowledgement that one has been heard.
The less obvious reason, and the one which will impact the adoption of the Vision Pro in a meaningful way, is that it lessens the inhibition of the would-be wearer to put on a headset in the first place. Knowing that others who are nearby or who might come into the room will be able to still see your eyes, and you theirs, makes it more likely you will put on that headset. It lessens self-consciousness. And the more you put on the headset, the more you will leverage its power, use it, tell your friends and colleagues about it and so on. “Cool” wears off — don’t get me wrong, the Vision Pro is going to be very cool. But that novelty will fade. What rarely fades however is people’s desire to be included, to not be left out, to not be oblivious. And that’s why EyeSight matters so much, because it lessens people’s inhibitions to put on a clunky, albeit cool, headset.
Being able to see others, and to be seen by others, even when something is covering our eyes, is actually something we already consider to be part of everyday life. Glasses! And make no mistake, this year we might be calling it a headset from Apple. Eventually however these “headsets” will get smaller and smaller until they look just like the glasses so many of us already wear for function and fashion today.