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Apple improves the look of ‘uncanny valley’ Personas in first Vision Pro update

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Apple Vision Pro was released to the public just a few days ago, but already developers have got their hands on a beta release of the first software update. visionOS 1.1 looks to address one of the biggest criticisms of the device so far: the Personas used as an “authentic spatial representation” of a user.

Personas are scanned by the multitude of sensors on the outside of Vision Pro. They can then act as your digital twin during video calls, mimicking movements and facial expressions so you can be “seen” without a headset obscuring most of your face. It’s like an incredibly lifelike Memoji. Meanwhile, Eyesight replicates the movements of your eyes onto the front of the display when using the device’s “passthrough” mode, indicating to anyone nearby that you can see them.

Although the technology behind Personas is undoubtedly impressive, the phrase “uncanny valley” has been slung around a lot to describe their use, meaning they look pretty realistic but not quite right. Other common descriptors we’ve seen include “unsettling” and “weird.” Apple’s flashy press videos showcase people making faux eye contact from within Vision Pro, but the reality doesn’t seem to quite match up to that standard yet.

Image from Marques Brownlee’s in-depth Vision Pro video

The vision 1.1 update aims to make improvements, with early reports indicating the latest changes make Personas more detailed and realistic. Below is an example from Snazzy Labs showing the quality of the new Personas. They’re still (intentionally) fuzzy around the edges, but seem more lifelike on the whole. It’s also important to note that the Persona feature on the whole is still technically in Beta.

Although not yet relevant to most iPhone users, its interesting to see this as an early focus for Apple’s boffins to fix. Optics are everything, after all – and if Apple gets Personas right, we could see them used in iPhone and iPad apps before too long.