Sunday, June 16, 2024

Apple’s next Vision Pro may send you on a mood-altering trip

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It sounds like something out of a sci-fi novel, but Apple could be working on a way to let you alter your mood just by telling its Vision Pro headset how you want to feel. That’s according to a recently granted patent (number 11703944) that outlines the whole futuristic idea.

It’s a strange concept and one that sounds woven right out of a Philip K. Dick story. In fact, in the author’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? there is a machine that puts users into whatever mood they desire. It sounds as though Apple’s inventors have been reading a little sci-fi in their spare time.

Apple

The patent explains how you might be able to ask your Apple device to help you slip into a certain mood, such as feeling relaxed, happy, or even frightened. The device could then present a batch of computer-generated content based on what it knows you respond to, with the goal of making you feel the way that you requested.

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For example, Apple says if you are currently feeling calm and want to feel alert, your device could display an image of a standing dog. Or if you are agitated and want to feel relaxed, you might see a video of a hummingbird.

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Apple would be able to work out your mood by collecting “audio data, psychological measurements, body pose data, and/or eye tracking data,” which could be collected from the headset, an Apple Watch, or some other device. Apple’s device would know what works and what doesn’t by measuring your existing and past reactions to various types of content you are shown. This could help it produce more effective mood-altering content next time.

A glimpse of the future?

A patent illustration showing how Apple’s Vision Pro headset could alter a user’s mood in various ways by showing them certain types of computer-generated content. Apple

A large chunk of the patent is spent discussing virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), so it seems possible that Apple is thinking of combining these mood-altering effects with some sort of VR or AR content. That could be particularly effective when a Vision Pro user is watching a movie or playing a game using one of Apple’s headsets and would bring an extra degree of immersion to the experience.

Yet while Apple’s patent might be well-intentioned, there is certainly an air of the dystopian about it. Many readers will likely be concerned that anything with the ability to alter a user’s mood could potentially be misused in ways that were not intended. If Apple ever does implement this system, there would have to be rigorous safeguards in place — and a lot of work put in to convince people that it’s something they would want to use.

Since this is just a patent, it might never come to the Vision Pro and may just be an instance of Apple exploring various fantastical ideas. Still, it’s something to keep an eye on and could be an indicator of the direction future Apple headsets could take.

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