Issue 63 Feb 11, 2024

The headset lockout

I've been reading the Apple Vision Pro reviews with interest and trepidation. There's no doubt that it's a technical marvel, and there's no doubt either that it's very much a first generation product. Apple does those well, they iterate, and suddenly things are great. Case in point: Apple Watch, or the iPhone for that matter.

Apple Vision Pro is surely no different. It's not where it can, nor should be yet, but it will be, some iterations down the line. I think it'll succeed, although it's too early to tell if it's an iPhone, Mac, or iPad level of success. It might not even get close to either of them, thus failing by Apple standards. If you look at the market for VR headsets, which isn't exactly what Vision Pro is but definitely competing with them, it becomes clear that whatever the spatial computing market is going to be needs to be a lot bigger.

None of that matters right now, it's all speculation. But, I just can't help but wonder what sort of world it'd be if headsets such as Apple Vision Pro, or VR headsets for that matter, becomes the norm.

Case in point: My wife loves to watch TV shows. I, too, like this, but not as often, nor for as long periods of time. I won't binge-watch a show, I'll get bored, and my mind starts to wander. So, when we watch something together, it'll be one episode, possibly two, and then I'll do something else. Most of the time, she'll watch a show she likes, and I'll play games, read, write, or fiddle with a project. When I do, I'll either put myself in a capsule, by which I mean I'll wear headphones or be in another room, or I won't because it's nice to have some sort of connection by means of noise, or seeing her watching her show.

That would be a completely different story if she wore a headset of some sort, VR or otherwise. I know that Apple tries to make Vision Pro less distanced from the world with those pass-through eyes, but that's very much not enough. Even if it was done well, it wouldn't be enough.

Let's say she laughs at something, and I'm nearby. Chances are, I heard at least a part of what she saw that was so funny, and I can both hear and see her as she enjoys her show. It's a nice thing, it's homely, and it's a connection between two human beings. It's even a shared moment, albeit with different focus and intention. None of that would happen if she was watching in her own virtual world. Chances are, I'd hear her laugh but none of the other context because it's a closed experience, not one that exists in the open space. If I'd look at her, I wouldn't see her face, just a thing obscuring her eyes.

This saddens me. I don't want that.

And, let's say we're to watch something together. In a world where headsets are the norm, there won't be any big TV screens, and if there are, they'll be sub-par in comparison. Are we to sit side by side and watch the same thing in our respective headsets? That paints a pretty sad picture, doesn't it?

Nobody knows where we're going, technology is difficult to predict. Maybe there'll be a paradigm shift that'll leave some of us behind, but whatever it is – spatial computing, augmented or virtual reality – might be natural for younger generations. That's the way things usually are, after all. Maybe it'll be something truly amazing. We'll see, but know that I'll keep my human connection, no matter what.


🪡 The Hairpin, once a prolific indie publication, is now home to AI generated crap and owned by an unscrupulous DJ. This is what happens when you let domain names expire.

🪥 There’s a story going around about 3 million toothbrushes used in a DDOS attack. Yes, they’re smart brushes, but no, that doesn’t mean they have internet access. This is explained at Bleeping Computer, but it’s yet another misunderstanding on how smart appliances work. Very few of them can connect to the internet, and those who can aren’t easily exposed from the outside. However, you might want to consider the devices that do communicate outside of companion apps, like smart TVs, which are notoriously bad at, well, most things, but definitely security stuff.

🥽 Stratechery review of Apple Vision Pro, which balances a lot of the buzz going on.

🤖 AI deploys nukes for peace in simulation, and suddenly the movie Wargames doesn’t feel so far-fetched. This is what AI fear mongers want to hear, reasonable or not. The scenario is irrelevant though, as no AI model available today would be put in charge. They are just too stupid.

📵 A French village is banning smartphones in public places. No doomscrolling with your coffee in a café, and ask for directions rather than using the phone app. It’s all very funny when you read about it, but it would be even more so if it was actually a law enforced by the police, which it isn’t. Still, interesting take on the isolation brought by smartphones.

☁️ Bluesky is now open for all, no more invites.

Got something I should read? Send it to me, either by replying to this letter, hitting up on Bluesky, or any of the other means that appeal to you. Thanks!


📚 Just research reading this week, too. I look forward to sit down with a proper book soon.

🎵 Tried to get into Torres, but it’s not quite there for me, I think. Still, some good songs here and there, so I might give the Thirstier album another listen down the line.

📺 We started watching Feud: Capote vs. The Swans yesterday. It could go either way, but it sure looks good visually.

🎮 Been fiddling with game streaming a bit this week, but no actual gaming. Well, that’s not true, I’m back to playing Easy Come, Easy Golf, which is the Clap Hanz golf game on Apple Arcade. It’s fun.

I hope you had a great week. Mine was stressful, and I’m recuperating from it, feeling less than ready for it all to start over again tomorrow.

I’m not sure if there’ll be a letter next week, as I’m traveling. We’ll see. Anyway, until next time, have a good one.

— Thord D. Hedengren ⚡

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