Apple’s Vision Pro headphones could distort reality in new ways, creating a world that looks different to everyone.
Following the launch of Vision Pro, researchers set out to discover what effect prolonged use of a virtual reality headset would have on our cognitive functions, and what they found was alarming.
A team of 11 researchers from Stanford University and the University of Michigan took turns putting on various pass-through headsets, including the Vision Pro, Quest Pro, Quest 3, Varjo XR-3, and various night vision goggles.
So-called ‘passthrough’ technology mixes the real world with virtual reality, which can be somewhat off-center from what we are used to and can distort our sensory functions and how we move through the world.
The researchers reported that the pass-through headphones distorted what they saw and made objects appear curved instead of their normal, straight appearance.
Researchers tested Vision Pro, Quest Pro, Quest 3, Varjo XR-3, and various night vision goggles, and found that Quest 3 eliminated walls that existed in reality.
At first, the researchers had difficulty navigating while wearing the headsets in both public and private spaces, noticing that objects appeared closer or further away than they were.
They walked with someone nearby to help them in case they tripped or bumped into something and initially reported feelings of nausea, eyestrain, headaches and dizziness, all signs of “simulator sickness.”
One of the most widely accepted theories about why simulator sickness occurs is the sensory conflict theory, in which a person experiences mismatches between the visual system, our sense of balance, and the body’s ability to sense the movement or location of objects. a place or object.
Researchers discovered that one of the most critical problems with pass-through headphones was the distortion that showed the world as through a prism or a fairground mirror.
“Anyone who has spent time in a museum mirror hall that makes people appear taller, thinner, or curvier understands this concept,” the researchers wrote in the study.
The headphones distorted straight lines, making edges appear curved, and expanded or compressed the distance between objects.
Researchers reported having trouble pressing the button in an elevator because the buttons seemed farther from their fingers or they had difficulty putting food in their mouths.
“Since the use of pass-through technology involves viewing the world through a small number of cameras, there is often a discrepancy between the location of a user’s actual eyes and the location of the camera screen,” states the study.
But after a few hours of using Vision Pro, the researchers noticed that their brains were adapting to the virtual world and that picking up objects or navigating while wearing the headset was not difficult.
“These headsets can not only add things to the real world, they can also remove things,” said Jeremy Bailenson, lead author of the study and director of Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Laboratory. Business Insider.
A team of 11 researchers from Stanford University and the University of Michigan tested the headphones on campus to see how they distorted what they would normally see.
He told the outlet that he noticed the headset was editing his surroundings while playing a Quest 3 game, saying it “teared down” parts of the walls around him in the real world and replaced them with a virtual scene.
“I’ve been doing VR and AR for a while, and I’ve never seen deletion work so well in my life,” he said.
Although the researchers’ senses adapted to the transfer technology, when they removed the Vision Pro headphones, they noticed that their perception was inverted and it was now the real world that seemed distorted.
The researchers compared the experience to wearing prismatic glasses that make objects appear to move to one side, and you may not reach for something at first because your brain and eyes are used to working together in one way.
But after wearing the glasses for several hours, your brain will adjust to figuring out how far your hands reach so you can grab things even though they seem off-center, but when you take the glasses off, your brain won’t automatically readjust to normal levels. of perception.
“When you take off your glasses, your brain still wants to move your hands as if everything were changed, causing you to move your hands in the wrong direction for a short period of time,” the study states.
Virtual reality headsets not only removed walls and barriers and distorted the way the world appears, but they also led to delayed responses and missed social cues.
Bailenson and his team described the feeling as “social absence,” when people feel physically disconnected from others.
The study’s authors caution that, based on their previous research and reports, people should be cautious about using virtual reality headsets, and say they should not assume that virtual presence can replace face-to-face interactions.
Reduced in-person contact could create mistrust in others or cause people to become “non-people,” meaning they are not fully present.
“What we’re about to experience is that by wearing these headphones in public, the commonalities disappear,” Bailenson told BI.
‘People will be in the same physical location, experiencing simultaneous and visually different versions of the world. “We are going to lose common ground.”
The authors noted that more research is needed to understand the long-term effects of continued use of pass-through technology, such as Vision Pro headsets.
“It may be difficult to imagine the world portrayed by the movie Ready Player One, where everyone emulates (the characters) by wearing headphones all day in their public and private lives,” the researchers said in the study.
They continued: ‘Few people can even imagine a norm in which face-to-face interaction is largely mediated by pass-through headsets.
‘But the biggest technology companies tell us, very transparently, that they are building this world. “We should listen to them.”