Apple has released detailed schematics of Vision Pro and its various parts, which will likely lead to an acceleration of third-party accessories like headstraps and protective cases for the device.

Vision Pro was announced nearly a year ago and started shipping three and a half months ago. Until now, third parties building accessories for the headset needed to work from their own (or someone else’s) unofficial measurements of Vision Pro to build accessories that fit the headset correctly.

But Apple has finally updated its Accessory Design Guidelines document to include detailed schematics of Vision Pro and its accessories.

The newly updated document gives precise measurements of various parts of the headset. No doubt providing a more accessible starting point for third parties building accessories that have tight requirements when it comes to fitting the headset.

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Perhaps one of the most important details in the newly released documents are those on Vision Pro’s headstrap locking mechanism, which allows the headstrap to connect easily to the headset while being similarly easy to remove with the simple pull of a built-in tab of fabric. With these new details, it should be easier for third parties to make straps that attach in the same convenient way.

Image courtesy Apple

Another key detail is the exact dimensions of the ZEISS optical inserts (attachable prescription lenses) which Apple sells directly during the purchase of Vision Pro. With the precise shape of both the lenses and the magnets that attach them to the headset, we may see more third-party prescription lenses reach the market.

Image courtesy Apple

In addition to the schematics, Apple’s Accessory Design Guidelines document includes guidelines for third-party Vision Pro accessories. For instance, Apple says that third-party Vision Pro straps should consider the following:

  • Be designed to prevent hair snag between the connector and mating parts, particularly in small spaces and between hard materials.
  • Not detach with a peel force less than 100 N at 12 mm from the connector.
  • Have a maximum insertion force of 18.3 N.
  • Not have metal contact with the elastomer portion of Apple Vision Pro Audio Strap.
  • Not have a material hardness exceeding 320 HV for portions contacting the Apple Vision Pro Audio
  • Strap connector.
  • Have a maximum normal pull force of 300 N on the Apple Vision Pro Audio Strap connector.

Apple products have long had a strong third-party accessory market, and it seems the company expects no less for Vision Pro.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Christian Schildwaechter

    At first I was astonished/excited that Apple would allow others to replace the full head strap up to where it connects to AVP, as it contains active parts to drive the speakers and apparently exposes USB, which allows Apple to sell a USD 300 head strap with USB 2 debugging port to developers. Connecting anything would still require visionOS support, but just the option to attach any active devices to the otherwise portless AVP seemed promising. And someone could release a counter balanced halo strap that allows wearing AVP without the light seal, “floating” in front of the face like on Quest Pro, getting rid of any pressure put on the face due to the high weight. Maybe even with a flip-up option for those moments where passthrough and streaming one Mac display just don’t suffice.

    Then I realized that the specs don’t allow for 3rd party side arms, but instead only for passive straps that connect mechanically at the end of Apple’s actually fully detachable side arms. Which is both disappointing regarding adding any type of smart devices, and limiting what 3rd party straps can do/look like due to these side arms being much longer on AVP compared to Quest 2/3.

    • Ben Lang

      Good points. There are limitations given that Apple doesn’t specify how third-party speaker straps would connect or interface with the headset.

  • Andrew Jakobs

    Do you can finally get a headstrap with a battery built in soon.

  • xyzs

    I hope their AVP2 will be released soon because this product is such a waste of potential:
    -Features that cost a lot and that add weight, like front screen.
    -Bad yet expansive straps by default.
    -Super unoptimized frame full of screws and daughterboards increasing the weight.
    -No controllers, even optional, even from partner…

    So overpriced and locked that mostly nobody is tempted.

    • Zantetsu

      Yeah I wonder if it wouldn’t be just as good to have a much simpler front screen that just rendered cartoonish eyes in a very flat and simple and obviously not realistic style. If the purpose of the front screen is to let others in the room know when you’re looking at them/engaged, then that would be sufficient. Doesn’t need to be something with the complexity and weight of a screen attempting to render realistic eyes at a realistic depth.

      I have to wonder what you mean by “not the best optics”. I tried it in store and I was blown away by the near perfection of the optics.

      • Christian Schildwaechter

        The display isn’t for showing user engagement (via a faint glow), but eyes looking in the correct direction during communication, giving only whoever the wearer is looking at the impression of direct eye contact, and nobody else. A flat image would seem to look at either everyone or no one, so instead AVP shows multiple perspectives that are split by lenticular lenses to the corresponding view directions.

        This way you can walk around someone wearing AVP and always see their correct eye position, even if the gaze and content of the display doesn’t change. This is absolutely essential to make AVP “invisible” in face-to-face communication, so Apple went with the current implementation despite it being rather dim and low-res due to the image being spread over several perspectives.

        With estimated front display costs of less than USD 30/1% of the retail price and a rather low weight incl. the lenses, the benefits of dropping it would be negligible. Simplifying or dropping it never was and never will be an option, and pretty much only VR users ask for this, while AVP users mostly want an improved version.

        • Zantetsu

          Even a flat charicatured set of eyes with pupils in them would convey a sense of the wearer’s eye movements if the pupil moved according to the headset user’s own eye movements.

          I find it hard to believe that the front display, including the glass cover which presumably is there to enhance the function of that display, do not add significant weight to the device.

          I am not sure what you are trying to imply with your last sentence. This is not a discussion that needs to be pigeonholed into being relevant to one group or another.

          As someone interested in the AVP, it’s front heavy design is a turn off. Don’t try to hand wave away my opinion by categorizing me as a “VR user” please.

          • Christian Schildwaechter

            No. If you look at a flat photo of a person looking straight into the camera, it will look as if this person is looking at you, no matter where you stand in the room. If the person looked to the side of the camera, there is no position in the room from which it would look as if the person was looking at you.

            This is inevitable with a 2D images, the perspective is fixed and doesn’t change with viewer perspective, which is why Apple has to go through all this effort and render several versions of the user’s eyes. You could get away with tracking the other person and rendering a single perspective on a simple, flat display according to their current position in the room, but this of course would only work for a single person and be rather confusing for others in the room.

            And for the weight: an OLED display is basically a plastic film with integrated self-illuminating dots and some printed on circuits, it doesn’t require a fixed frame or backlight, which makes them very light. We now have foldable phone displays and rollable large screen TVs due to this. The lenticular lenses in front of it are similar to Fresnel lenses just stamped into a clear plastic sheet, and used in e.g. postcards that show a different picture depending on view direction. Display and lenses combined could weigh less than 25g..

            People always mix the weight of the front glass with the display, which doesn’t make a lot of sense considering that it also houses 14+ sensors that couldn’t work through a sheet of opaque plastic. But even if that would be an option, it wouldn’t save any weight. Glass is incredible strong relative to its weight, esp. modern high tech versions like Gorilla glass used to cover smartphones as a very thin and light sheet. Glass is more brittle, so it can shatter, but if you look up AVP drop tests on YouTube, you’ll see the very thin glass protecting AVP from falls above head height without cracking. They had to drop it from just below the ceiling to get it to detach, and the HMD still worked without the glass cover. You’d need a very thick/heavy plastic cover to achieve the same, which would ADD weight.

            And my last sentence is a critique of people asking for technical changes without having understood either what Apple is aiming for or why they made certain technical choices. AVP’s technical design is EXTREMELY advanced and clever, with every component picked for a very specific reason, and there are lots of sources showing that. So all the “Apple is stupid, just drop the display and the glass and it will be much lighter” comments are just ignorant, baseless assumptions, showing that the person never bothered to check how AVP is actually constructed. Apple even published a YouTube video demonstrating how the glass front and woven head strap are created, and nobody who has seen this would ever think that those might be design flaws instead of cases of intentional massive over-engineering. The only real valid criticism is that all this makes AVP very expensive to produce.

          • Zantetsu

            If you look to the side of a headset, even an AVP, you won’t see any screen, so that’s a moot point.

            I guess all those movies with fake eyes in the portrait that followed the character through the room were just making stuff up. As if the fact that the pupils moved meant nothing about anyone’s perception of what the eyes were looking at.

            Believe me, if pupils *move*, then a person looking at the eyes will make a mental adjustment about what the eyes are looking at.

          • Ardra Diva

            or those “bobble eyes” like they put on stuffed animals, maybe.

    • ViRGiN

      even apple’s unlimited budget isn’t able to redefine physics.

    • Christian Schildwaechter

      The next AVP will have:

      – an improved front screen that current AVP users already ask for.
      – much lower weight, making the default strap not messing up hair, usable while lying down and easy to put on and off, a more adequate solution.
      – another extremely optimized frame, but with less parts due to technical improvements and gained experience which components are needed and which features could be dropped/replaced by software.
      – the same excellent optics, again deliberately slightly out of focus to make single pixels indiscernible and improve the overall visual impression.
      – no controllers, although we might see an AVP version of the Apple Pencil (which has 3DoF tracking on the latest iPad Pro), according to Apple patents as self-tracking 6DoF for AVP, possibly also working as a 3D scanner.

      Despite reports from analysts, 2024 sales still seem mostly limited by Sony only being able to produce enough microOLED displays for ~450K AVP. Apple apparently has one year of exclusive access to these, making 2025 predictions hard. The next AVP version/refresh is expected to focus on reducing weight while keeping the high price and staying fundamentally the same. More significant feature will only come later with a non Pro HMD. Intended for a different use case, it will never become a traditional VR HMD though, despite using the same technology.

      • Zantetsu

        How do you know it will have these things? You speak as if you know facts. How did you acquire those facts?

        • Christian Schildwaechter

          [This got way, way longer than intended, so I’ll move the conclusion/actual answer here:

          So my claims aren’t just a personal wishlist (which would look different), instead they are an extrapolation of what Apple did so far (not only with AV), what we know about the current hardware, its limits and production, and what Apple sources reported will be their next steps.

          The rest explains where every single point came from.]

          None of these will be facts until Apple reveals the next version. Most of it is derived from Apple sources stating that the next AVP will be a very iterative improvement, not really a new model, and mainly focused on reducing the weight, others are logical next steps.

          There were Apple internal discussions whether AVP was even ready to be revealed in 2023, with the design team recommending to wait, and Tim Cook deciding to go with the current state. This was reported even before the official reveal. So AVP was released in a somewhat premature state, targeting mostly a very limited market of developers and first adopters, to get app development going and testing it in the real world.

          This will take years, so Apple first releasing an upgraded version fixing some of the most obvious deficiencies makes a lot of sense. And pretty much all sources hint that this will happen, probably in late 2025. The concept hasn’t changed, so there will be no VR controllers. Patents for the extended pencil became public some time ago, and with AVP currently positioned as a souped up XR iPad, and iPad allowing touch, keyboard and pencil input via Apple accessories, doing the same for AVP would be just consequent, as AVP runs most iPad software.

          Sticking to Sony’s displays for another low volume AVP is pretty much inevitable due to a lack of available alternatives. Hopefully yields will improve and the insane price of USD 700 somewhat drop, but Apple may still keep the AVP price the same due to newer tech and Sony refusing to expand their production facilities, setting a hard limit of less than half a million AVP per year with their displays. Apple is talking to Chinese BOE/SeeYa for future, cheaper microOLED displays for consumer HMDs, but they weren’t ready for AVP, and whatever Samsung’s eMagin is cooking up will go to their HMDs first.

          The comments about frame and screen quality, and the “factual” style are mostly jabs at xzys, who chose to completely ignore what e.g. iFixit had to say regarding the incredible engineering level after their AVP teardown, as well as recent conclusions regarding slightly blurry displays actually being intentional. He instead declared these to be deficiencies without any reasoning. There were similar discussions after the AVP release whether motion blur was a bug, or an intended comfort feature to reduce motion sickness, and everyone simply expecting Apple to do the same as existing HMDs is walking on thin ice.

          xyzs’ list is basically what VR enthusiasts wanted Apple to release, a high end VR HMD at still affordable prices. That was obviously never in the cards, but the same people continue to ignore that Apple positioned AVP completely different, and now ask for changes in AVP2 that will push it towards VR, dropping features not essential for this use case. Which again is obviously never going to happen.

          AVP will get lighter first, then cheaper later with redundant functions removed/replaced, and missing one’s added. It will very likely follow the playbook we already saw with iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch, with the first generation still lacking, and the second and third fixing most of the obvious flaws they found when people started to actually use them. The use cases slightly shifted, with the iPhone becoming mostly about apps and the watch about health, but the core mission stayed the same.

          So future Apple Vision for the (Apple) mass market at prices more like high end iPhones will probably shift more to then available XR apps instead of media consumption like now, but they will never try to be a VR headset and instead add even more features like the front display to make AVP socially acceptable for direct communication. Apple may eventually allow 3rd party VR controllers, but it took them six years to even allow special “Made for iPhone” gamepads in iOS 7, and 12 years to support regular Xbox/PS controllers in iOS 13.

          • Zantetsu

            Yeah definitely too long. I stopped reading at the first sentence, which already answered the question asked.

  • psuedonymous

    “Apple products have long had a strong third-party accessory market, and it seems the company expects no less for Vision Pro.”
    For Apple to publish interface specs publicly – rather than their usual MO of being restricted to certain parties behind an NDA (and fees), or just completely absent and reliant on reverse-engineering by third parties – indicates they are not seeing the 3rd party accessory market they want to see and are attempting to stimulate it by greatly lowering the barrier to entry.

    • Ben Lang

      The same document that now includes the Vision Pro schematics includes the same details for all of the company’s other major products.

  • Ardra Diva

    Apple should just call this a failed experiment, an attempt to foray into a market they don’t own, and write it off. Maybe do something TRULY bold, like making touchscreen Macs? Something everyone wants, as opposed to a $2400 visor nobody really wanted, and few actually liked.