We told you it would be coming — and now, Apple’s Vision Pro VR/AR headset is finally here. Well, technically you can’t buy one until next year. But the device’s June unveiling did take over the Internet; people have watched the reveal video more than 50 million times. We also noticed Apple chief Tim Cook resisted the word “metaverse,” choosing instead to coin his own category for the splashy device: “spatial computing.” Expect that phrase to challenge “generative AI” for Tech Buzzword of the Year.
So, what does it mean for pharma? We spoke with EVERSANA INTOUCH strategists and innovation specialists who’ve been tracking metaverse developments in healthcare. Here are their hot takes on Apple’s promising, pricey, and unpredictable foray into the Internet of tomorrow:
NICOLE MAKSIMOVIC, Strategic Planner
There’s no shortage of reasons why Apple’s new headset is doomed to fail: it’s comically expensive for the average consumer, it looks goofy, the two-hour battery life doesn’t lend itself to most tasks, there’s no clearly defined use case that makes obvious sense. But Apple has been here before. Remember when the iPad debuted? It cost three times as much as the standard iPhone, but that didn’t stop higher-income professionals, including physicians, from snapping them up and ushering in the tablet revolution. For me, though, the most compelling comparison is with Apple Watch. The watch seemed equally improbable at launch: funny-looking, extravagant, and sort of pointless. (“Apple Watch has been a failure” was a popular headline in 2016.) Today, however, they’re a wardrobe staple for many. I’ve got questions about the Vision Pro, but I’m going to have a little faith that it’ll go the direction of Apple Watch and slowly take hold as physicians and others get on board.
ANDREW GROJEAN, Associate Director, Innovation
The “living memories” feature of Vision Pro could be amazing, especially for older people with limited mobility or loss of memory due to Alzheimer’s Disease. Also, creating device control through eye tracking seems to be a game changer. In the hands-on demos I’ve watched, users say it takes getting used to but feels like magic. By combining eye tracking with voice commands, Vision Pro is probably the most accessible technology device ever created. Simply looking at an object and using your voice to select it means people with disabilities will be able to fully control the experience. If there’s any company I’d bet on making VR/AR work, it’s Apple, but the adoption runway might be long. Look for Apple to partner with hospitals, memory care facilities, and the VA healthcare system as potential early trials for these types of use cases.
PARIS DANIELL, Group Director, Strategic Planning
Headsets have always been awkward. The Vision Pro represents a milestone in making the tech increasingly “invisible.” It’s once we reach that tipping point, where the technology feels entirely absent, that we’ll see significant impact in the healthcare marketing world. However, this will require Apple to lower the price, encouraging developers to invest time with the knowledge there will be sufficient users to justify their efforts. In the meantime, picture what AR can do from a medical education standpoint. It has the potential to turn scientific disease education and MOA explanations into experiences that are both approachable and memorable. There’s also a world (not too far away?) where insurance will cover the cost of a Vision Pro headset — consider rehabilitation, mental health, etc. With the right VR/AR experiences, a lot of these conditions could be improved.
BRANDY BUHL, VP, CX Strategy
There’s a huge opportunity for Vision Pro in continuing medical education. We know HCPs want more opportunities to interact with educational content beyond PDFs, slides, or pre-recorded videos. They want a more immersive experience, and we know that makes education more effective. For example, I love the idea of MOAs that put the HCP inside a new molecule as it interacts with a target. I also think Vision Pro’s technology could offer a unique way to engage with congresses and conferences. Imagine being able to explore product booths and watch a KOL speaker series in mixed reality, with colleagues both IRL and virtually, from around the world.
CARLY STILWELL, Senior Strategic Planner
The Vision Pro’s unique ability to strip away the barriers between memory, understanding, education and reality could allow us to truly bring people into the world of patients, without the challenges posed by current headsets like Meta’s Quest 2. TikTok users have already been creating “simulations” for how they would use the Vision Pro headset, and interestingly it’s all been about creating previously impossible dreams. In a typical example, one user’s video imagined using the “360” video feature to get fully immersed inside the 2019 Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix victory car driven by Charles Leclerc, an electric moment in racing history. With Vision Pro, healthcare marketers have the capacity to drive true empathy, understanding, and perhaps, behavior change, in a way we haven’t before.
JEFF MACFARLAND, VP, Innovation
Yes, the headset is ugly by Apple standards, and expensive by any standards, but I believe Vision Pro will change everything, in the same way iPhone changed phones so many years ago. Being able to toggle between real life, augmented life and fully immersive virtual experiences will change the way we experience the internet — and even our own memories. Of course, the applications for healthcare are numerous, but I think the low-hanging fruit is telehealth. The Vision Pro could make “house calls” more personal and empathetic. The device’s cutting-edge sensors and cameras, paired with data from your iPhone or Apple Watch, could allow remote physicians to diagnose conditions simply by asking the patient to look at a rash, mole, or swollen ankle. The computer’s vision and augmented layer will do the busy work. In-person visits could become more effective as well, with HCPs having an AI assistant — providing them with a patient’s medical history — and high-res computer vision — potentially turning a routine inspection of a patient’s throat or skin into a life-saving diagnosis. Finally, surgeries have to be mentioned in any discussion of the Vision Pro. Right now, mixed reality, holographic, and augmented surgeries are taking place, but they are bulky and low resolution. The computing power within Vision Pro will make Meta’s Quest feel like a toy, and any surgeon or procedure-oriented physician is going to be interested in the device.
To set up an Innovation workshop that can explore how your brand can leverage the metaverse, generative AI, and other new platforms and approaches, contact your account team or Faruk.Capan@eversana.com