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Tech giant Apple is calling its “mixed-reality” headset, scheduled to hit the market in early 2024, “the most advanced personal electronics device ever.”
But critics warned the headset will pose multiple threats, physical and emotional, to children.
The “Apple Vision Pro,” priced at $3,499, will allow the wearer to toggle between augmented reality (AR) — which projects digital imagery on the physical surroundings while allowing the user to see objects in the real world — and virtual reality (VR), which immerses the user in a virtual world and limits their vision of their physical surroundings.
“Depending on how seductive the experience is, it could lead to metaverse addiction. The possibility for addiction to a simulated reality is great, especially in the case of children [and] for those children who become addicted, psycho-social development will likely be adversely affected, if not distorted beyond recognition.”
Rectenwald said the headset “involves the overlaying of media over the perceptual field. That is, AR represents a hyper-mediated experience of the physical world that interposes information between users and their perceptual fields.”
“AR can and likely will be used to overlay interpretations of elements that accord with official state, corporate or corporate-state narratives, thus serving as an extension of mass media into the perceptual fields of individuals.
“In addition to AR’s advertising potential, it can also facilitate surreptitious or blatant propagandizing, especially given the preponderance of propaganda emanating from mainstream media.”
He also warned that there’s a high chance people may use Apple Vision Pro for escapism from the “real world.”
The company said it is creating an “all-new App Store” specific to Apple Vision Pro “where users can discover apps and content from developers, and access hundreds of thousands of familiar iPhone and iPad apps that run great and automatically work with the new input system for Vision Pro.”
‘A crime and a tragedy’
Comedian and political commentator Russell Brand — said the device puts the wearer into a “dystopic illusion.”
In an episode of his podcast, “Stay Free,” Brand said Apple — “a corporation that’s more powerful than nations [and] therefore able to bias and influence laws — is pioneering “new realms where reality itself may be dominated.”
Brand said the AR/VR space is not a neutral domain — “It’s like a curated reality owned by a very, very powerful entity,” he said.
Investigative reporter Jon Rappoport said Apple’s headset puts the user in “a self-contained bubble” that “doesn’t reach out into life.”
“Even worse,” Rappoport told The Defender. “It’s a stand-in for the user’s own imagination. A child’s dreams, which propel him forward to achieve, disappear into the bubble and vanish. That’s a crime and a tragedy.”
Rectenwald said there’s “no doubt” children will use the device. “VR/AR/MR/metaverse use probably magnifies the effects of social media by untold orders,” he said. “And we already know how social media affects children.”
Last month the U.S. surgeon general warned that social media can pose a “profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.”
According to the advisory, up to 95% of youth ages 13-17 use social media, with one-third of that group saying they use it “almost constantly,” and 40% of children ages 8-12 use it.
Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy said in a statement that “for too many children, social media use is compromising their sleep and valuable in-person time with family and friends.”
“We are in the middle of a national youth mental health crisis, and I am concerned that social media is an important driver of that crisis — one that we must urgently address,” Murthy said.
Apple Vision Pro poses health and privacy concerns, expert says
W. Scott McCollough, CHD’s leading litigator for its electromagnetic radiation cases, said the device raises both health and privacy concerns. He said:
“The headset has a ton of sensors and reactive components, including LED and LiDAR. Unfortunately, we don’t know the specs.
“For example, we don’t know if the LiDAR is 905 nanometers (and can therefore harm eyes and disrupt camera images) or if it is the safer 1550 nanometers. LED lights make some people sick.”
McCollough said the device might increase the user’s exposure to wireless radiofrequency (RF) radiation, which studies have linked to brain damage, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. But it’s difficult to say how much, since “we don’t know how the device will connect — Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and/or 5G.”
“Apple has been very secretive to date so speculation is all we have,” he added.
The Defender reached out to Apple for information regarding the amount of RF radiation emitted by the headset and how it will connect to the internet, but the company did not respond by the deadline.
McCollough said his most salient concern about the device would be the impact on the user’s data and privacy.
“There’s no telling what this thing will capture and send ‘back to the mothership,’” he said.