Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus who left the company in 2017, appears to have insider knowledge of the upcoming Apple XR headset, which is expected to be unveiled at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) next month. To Luckey, Apple’s hotly awaited entrance into the space is apparently “so good.”
Update (May 17th, 2023): In a Twitter spaces chat with Peter H. Diamandis, Luckey described a bit of his experiences with an earlier version of Apple’s headset, noting in the May 4th interview that he hasn’t seen the final version:
“The Apple headset is very, very good. I’ve not seen the final headset, but I have seen an earlier version of the headset and it is excellent. It is going to be a huge deal. It is going to be expensive, but I think that they’re following a pretty smart strategy, which is to make VR into something everybody wants before it’s something that everybody can afford, which was kind of our position in the early days when we started Oculus. The Oculus Rift was sort of a flagship headset, and was [setting] the bar for what VR could be. In many ways, nobody’s even beaten the first Oculus Rift CV1 today in terms ergonomics, lightweight-ness, a lot of the adjustability—and I think Apple is going to do a great job of that.”
The original article continues below:
The Apple headset is so good.
— Palmer Luckey (@PalmerLuckey) May 14, 2023
Luckey hasn’t quantified his experience beyond this, or even said that his impressions indeed come from a personal demo of Apple’s long-rumored mixed reality headset, which, like Meta Quest Pro, is thought to be capable of both virtual reality and passthrough augmented reality thanks to outward facing cameras. Whatever the case, the VR pioneer is sufficiently impressed with whatever the fruit company has in store.
Luckey, who founded defense company Anduril after his 2017 Facebook departure, is no stranger to candidly voicing his opinions on headset design. When unicorn AR startup Magic Leap released its ML1 headset in mid-2018, he called it a “tragic heap,” further stating the AR headset was “a tragedy in the classical sense.”
At the time, Magic Leap was just as secretive about its hardware as Apple is today. And Luckey’s opinion was undoubtedly tinged by the company’s self-generated hype which grew in the shadow of that secrecy.
“Magic Leap needed to really blow people away to justify the last few years,” Luckey wrote in his review of the headset. “The product they put out is reasonably solid, but is nowhere close to what they had hyped up, and has several flaws that prevent it from becoming a broadly useful tool for development of AR applications. That is not good for the XR industry.”
Does this mean Apple is actually delivering on the hype and pushing the ball forward with the reported $3,000 headset? Even with an avalanche of patently unverifiable leaks to go on and Luckey’s word, we truly won’t know until that ‘one more thing’ is announced on stage. Then again, you simply never can tell with Apple. We have our calendars marked for the June 5th WWDC keynote, so join us then to find out.