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On Topic: Apple Vision Pro

Enter the uncanny valley

After Google’s failed attempt to make people wear VR glasses in 2013, Apple takes a shot ten years later by announcing their mixed-reality headset: The Apple Vision Pro. Besides the $3,499 price tag, the external battery pack, and the mere handful of apps available on the device, we were pointed to other, perhaps even more disturbing obstacles of the Vision Pro: the ways it transports us to the uncanny valley.

The uncanny valley refers to the phenomenon where a sense of unease or revulsion is aroused in a person, due to viewing a computer-generated figure or humanoid robot.

In the case of the Apple Vision Pro, we come across the uncanny valley in several ways. One of the most-mentioned on Reddit and by news-sources is EyeSight: the built-in, exterior eye feature that reveals your eyes on the front of your Apple Vision Pro. This feature was meant to let people in your physical proximity know when you’re fully immersed in an activity on your Vision Pro, by showing your eyes. However, the experience of EyeSight allowing the front panel of the Vision Pro to become transparent, is an illusion. What the people around you are actually looking at, is an outward-facing screen that displays a real-time recording of your eyes. In short: the Vision Pro projects an avatar of your face, on your face.

Even when turning off EyeSight, the uncanny valley is present in the Vision Pro personas. These personas that are created as the headset scans the wearer’s face, and are used for things such as video-calling, seem to look like “deep-fake versions of yourself.”

 

Luckily, the experiences of unease and revulsion, such as described in the experience of the uncanny, do not apply to all forms of VR. What if, instead, we would use the immersive qualities of VR to explore our relationship to technology, and all of its nuances? That’s exactly what IMPAKT will be doing on 23 March 2024 with the mixed-reality performance Be My Guest! by Me AndOther Me.

Saturday 23 March
14:00 & 19:00
IMPAKT (Lange Nieuwstraat 4, Utrecht)

Be My Guest! explores the spatial, cultural, and social relationships of design, new media technologies and AI, through one of the most common and oldest gathering rituals in our everyday lives – having dinner with friends. What happens to the human experience when AI becomes our dinner host, co-creator of the spatial experience, and co-author of the menu? Join us for an AI-hosted meal at 14:00 or 19:00 to find out!

Prices range from €15 (incl. food) for an exclusive spot at the table, to €10 (incl. food) to join as a spectator, or €5 (excl. food) for a regular ticket to the exhibition and a view of the performance. Click here for tickets. 

 


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