Geo Week News

October 19, 2019

Varjo keeps pushing VR boundaries with their latest headsets


Varjo, the Finnish company that launched the first “Human-Eye Resolution” Virtual Reality headset for the professional market, just announced two new additions to its portfolio: the Varjo VR-2 and the VR-2 Pro.

Similar to the Varjo VR-1, the company’s first VR headset released in February 2019, both the VR-2 and the VR-2 Pro feature Varjo’s Bionic Display with a resolution at over 20/20 vision (over 60 PPD / 3000 PPI), flicker-free screen refresh at 60/90 Hz, and an 87-degree field-of-view. The Bionic Display combines a 1440×1600 pixel, low-persistence AMOLED, and a 1920×1080-pixel low-persistence micro OLED in the center of the main display per eye. However, according to UploadVR, unlike the VR-1, these two new headsets include a prism diffuser film on the lower resolution display, which should eliminate the screen door effect present in consumer VR headsets.

Additionally, the 20/20 Eye Tracker technology previously used on the VR-1 headset was enhanced to offer even faster and more accurate calibration performance, giving professionals access to precise eye data for applications such as consumer research or safety-critical training. Also, both headsets support SteamVR content as well as the OpenVR development platform from Valve at ultra-high resolutions (up to 40 PPD/4K rendering per eye).

To differentiate the VR-2 and VR-2 Pro, the latter includes a 250g counterweight to provide an improved ergonomic feel, and a 10-meter length (vs 5-meter length on the VR-2) connection cable. More importantly, the VR-2 Pro equips an active IR sensor system from Ultraleap (formerly known as Leap Motion) consisting of two wide-angle cameras and LEDs for hand tracking, allowing users to feel when they “touch” objects in virtual reality with their fingers. According to Varjo, this “means you can say goodbye to controllers and bulky add-ons and focus on interacting with the virtual environment. And our professional license covers all possible use cases – from simulation and training and industrial design to research”.

Steve Cliffe, CEO of Ultraleap, said: “Being able to see in high fidelity and interact without controllers revolutionizes professional VR. Varjo’s human-eye resolution visual fidelity is unprecedented. So is the accuracy and low latency of Ultraleap’s hand tracking. The Varjo VR-2 Pro is the best integration of the two technologies and sets a new standard for natural user experience in VR. We’re very excited about the value it will unlock for demanding use-cases such as training, simulation and industrial design.”

Founded in 2016, Varjo is focused on changing the VR professional market by further developing its “Human-Eye Resolution” VR headset. To this date, the company has received a total funding amount of $45.9M from various investors, including Atomico, Tekes, and Volvo Cars Group. Currently, Varjo is working with various companies, including Audi AG, Siemens PLM, SAAB AB, Autodesk, Unity Technologies and more.

Varjo is also developing a Mixed Reality (MR) headset, the XR-1, for engineers, researchers and designers. Contrary to the holographic-looking 3D objects that common AR headsets display, the XR-1 uses dual 12-megapixel outer cameras to pass video of the outside world into VR, making virtual objects appear solid and photorealistic, while seamlessly casting shadows on reality in a full field of view. Together with Volvo, the company created a demo using Unity to showcase the device’s capabilities.

Hopefully, the two new VR headsets, and the XR-1, which are a part of Varjo’s ‘Resolution Revolution’, indicate a growing demand for VR and AR technologies in the professional market. We’ve already seen how Airbus is using the Hololens 2 to grow effectively and efficiently. Last year, the Air Force used VR to train pilots in half the time at a fraction of the cost.

The VR-2 and the VR-2 Pro are now available at $4,995 and $5,995 respectively, sold together with Varjo’s software and support services starting at $795.

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