The Apple Vision Pro is now officially available, which only means that extensive testing on the AR headset will be carried out from nearly all angles to find any security, privacy, or hardware flaws. One security researcher discovered that when visionOS completely crashes, the camera passthrough continues to display a message to the user, signifying Apple’s efforts to bring intricate levels of engineering to products that one would not imagine.
If the system crash is extreme, the Apple Vision Pro will warn the wearer that it will power off the display after 30 seconds
With an Apple Vision Pro in his possession, PhD student Joseph Ravichandran, studying Microarchitectural Security, performed what he claims was the first kernel exploit on the head-mounted wearable, attempting to crash it for whatever reason. When visionOS did crash, he was met with a message that could be viewed through the camera passthrough, informing the wearer to remove the device. Assuming that the crash is severe, then Apple Vision Pro sends a message that it will reboot in 30 seconds.
This is highly thoughtful of Apple and everyone who was involved in making the headset because assuming visionOS crashed and it had to reboot, users would not be aware that the Apple Vision Pro would perform a reset cycle, and some might believe that they purchased a buggy headset with unpolished software. To have the foresight to provide a complete passthrough is impressive work and shows how in-depth Apple’s engineers went into making the $3,499 device.
The world’s first(?) kernel exploit for Vision Pro- on launch day! pic.twitter.com/9rVtaSmbei
— Joseph Ravichandran (@0xjprx) February 3, 2024
As for why a passthrough is possible even when the Apple Vision Pro crashes, the post thread suggests it is thanks to the R1 co-processor, which runs in unison with the M2 and handles the passthrough and the compositing. Given that the R1 is a completely independent SoC, it can provide real-time passthrough information such as the one seen in the post above. Whether or not Apple implements this technology in other products is something we have to watch out for, but for all intents and purposes, the functionality is brilliant.
News Source: Joseph Ravichandran