The Apple Vision Pro has been available in US Apple Stores since the beginning of February 2024. Like other VR headsets, it uses so-called passthrough video technology. However, a Stanford researcher is now warning against wearing the glasses for too long at a time.

Even before the official start of sales in the USA, the Apple Vision Pro received a lot of praise. It's not really clear what the $3,500 VR glasses are supposed to be for. What is clear again: Like the Meta Quest 3, the Apple Vision Pro is intended to lead users into a virtual reality and possibly replace the smartphone in the future.

However, how this will all happen is still unclear. But while the VR headset was initially highly praised for its technical capabilities, criticism is now increasing. The reason: the so-called passthrough video technology.

Apple Vision Pro: Stanford researcher warns of effects on the brain

Like the Meta Quest 3 and Meta Quest Pro, the Apple Vision Pro uses passthrough video technology. Specifically, this means: Cameras and other sensors record images of the outside world and display them in the device.

This creates a virtual environment that mimics reality and in which apps and other virtual elements are displayed. The goal: Apple and Meta hope that this virtual reality will be so fascinating that people will work, live and spend their free time there.

However, researchers are now warning about the consequences of wearing VR headsets like the Apple Vision Pro for too long. The fear: The devices could change the way we perceive the world. Jeremy Bailenson, head of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University:

Not only can these headsets add things to the real world, they can also delete them. What we will see is that when these headsets are used in public, the commonality disappears. People will be in the same place while experiencing visually different versions of the world. We will lose common ground.

VR headsets: The side effects of virtual reality

According to a team of researchers led by Bailenson, our brains would undergo a massive, society-wide experiment by using VR headsets. As a result, our perception would rewire the world around us, making it even more difficult to distinguish between fiction and reality.

Short-term side effects from virtual reality are already known. For example, people tend to misjudge distances after wearing a VR headset and being in a virtual reality. First of all, this is no surprise.

Even in three-dimensional reality, our ability to determine what is how close or how far away is influenced by numerous factors. However, VR headsets and virtual environments make this worse. This can be particularly problematic if you then take part in real traffic.

These side effects can be made even worse by so-called object distortion. Specifically, this means: In virtual reality, things change their size, shape and color. These distortions can subsequently affect perception in reality because video playback cannot keep up with the processing speed and fidelity of the eyes and brain.

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