It may sound like a statement of the blindingly obvious, but it’s been said nonetheless.
The U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Steve Buttigieg, has warned drivers not to get behind the wheel of their car while wearing Apple’s new Vision Pro mixed-reality headset.
Yes, it appears that wearing Apple’s unwieldy headset while zipping along the highway at maximum speed is unlikely to improve your driving ability but instead send you hurtling into a stationary object that most definitely won’t be virtual or augmented but very much real.
You see, the Vision Pro, for those who haven’t clocked it yet, is not a heads-up display offering enhanced driving capabilities. It’s a “spatial computer,” according to Apple. In other words, it’s a device that’s supposed to enhance your productivity, a machine designed to almost-but-not-quite-yet replace your Mac, a gadget offering entertainment options that do not include driving in your car with multiple distractions and an obscured view.
Buttigieg felt the need to state the obvious after seeing a video of a man wearing the Vision Pro headset while driving a Cybertruck. We say “driving,” but here we use the term in the loosest possible sense. After all, the person behind the wheel is shown with both hands off the wheel — let’s hope the vehicle is at the very least in Autopilot — while performing an array of hand gestures that show he is very much engaged in performing various tasks within the Vision Pro.
“Reminder — ALL advanced driver assistance systems available today require the human driver to be in control and fully engaged in the driving task at all times,” Buttigieg wrote in his post on X, formerly Twitter.
Under a heading on Apple’s website that says, “Safely use your Apple Vision Pro,” the tech company explains that the device has “built-in safety features to help prevent collisions and falls,” although these “collisions” refer to the type where you might bump into a wall, not slam into the back of a bus.
Apple hasn’t told drivers not to use the Vision Pro while driving because it thought it was obvious. But it may now have to add such an instruction to its website.
Up until now, the company has released ads and other promotional material showing the headset being used around the home and on an aircraft (by a passenger, not the pilot, but hey, give it time). During one-to-one Apple Store demonstrations of the Vision Pro for potential customers, Apple has even set up a “living room” environment to make the experience as realistic as possible. It does not have alongside it the interior of an automobile.
Whether Vision Pro customers heed Buttigieg’s warning remains to be seen, but we have a feeling it won’t be too long before we read of the first person to be pulled up for wearing the headset while driving.