The Future of Virtual Reality Features Resolution of the Human Eye
Jeffrey Heimgartner posted on October 18, 2018 |
Varjo is creating the first VR/MR product with human eye resolution. (Image courtesy of Varjo.)
Varjo is creating the first VR/MR product with human eye resolution. (Image courtesy of Varjo.)

The potential uses for virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (XR) are just beginning to touch the surface of what is possible. While some researchers are looking for ways to cure motion sickness, other projects are focused on giving people a glimpse into the lives of others, as well as into nature itself.

The uses for the technology may seem endless, but the true testament of the experience of using it lies in the tools themselves. Although VR headsets have come a long way, in providing a view of alternate realities, they still lack a view through a truly human eye. Since its 2016 inception, Helsinki-based Varjo Technologies’ mission has been to change that.

The company is on the brink of revolutionizing the industry thanks to a $31 million investment, led by Atomico, to give the world the first VR/XR product with human eye resolution. Included will be hardware and software products focused on industrial use, transforming complex work within design-driven industries.

“We hope that the impact of our hardware and software platform on industry will be as profound as the introduction of the graphical user interface,” said Varjo Cofounder and CEO Urho Konttori. “At Varjo, we’re extremely proud to welcome Atomico, Europe’s most experienced VC, and industry icon Siemens, to our mission of launching a new era of immersive computing for professionals.”

Using Bionic Display, Varjo is developing VR technology that tracks eyes in real time, creating an accurate image unavailable in the current market. (Image courtesy of Varjo.)
Using Bionic Display, Varjo is developing VR technology that tracks eyes in real time, creating an accurate image unavailable in the current market. (Image courtesy of Varjo.)

The latest investment from Atomico—an international technology investment firm headquartered in London—brings Varjo’s budget to $46 million. The investments will be used to help Varjo’s 80-plus hardware and software teams more than double to 200 in the next year, as well as finance the first product’s launch.

“The resolution of VR devices on the market today is a fraction of what the average human eye can see,” said Atomico Founding Partner and CEO Niklas Zennström. “Until we met Varjo’s visionary founders and experienced their superior product firsthand, we thought that VR was still at least 10 years away from being truly useful for professionals. It’s because of Varjo’s world-class team that industries such as automotive, engineering, aerospace, architecture, construction, industrial design and real-world training simulations won’t have to wait that long to be able to utilize the technology for their business-critical use cases.”

Varjo’s first product is an industrial-grade VR/XR headset. It will let professionals in fields where extreme precision and visual fidelity are necessary design new products while working in human eye resolution. The headset is designed for integration with current 3D engines and software tools.

The current prototype has an effective resolution of 50 megapixels per eye, more than 20 times that of consumer devices. The headset’s software uses eye-tracking technology to determine where the viewer is looking, which enables it to create a high-quality image of that space. This unique software helps save processing power by focusing on where it is actually being used instead of simply rendering a complete image.

Varjo has been collaborating with industry leaders—such as Airbus, Audi, Lilium, Saab, Sellen, Volkswagen and Volvo Cars—to optimize the product and meet the specific needs of different industries.

“Decisions are the daily challenge in a product development process. Supporting virtual development means to deliver the highest available quality to enable reliable decisions. Varjo’s technology is convincing and will help us to close the existing gaps and speed up our development cycles using the advantages of a continuous virtual process,” said Jan Pflueger of the Coordination Augmented and Virtual Reality Center of Competence at Audi.

Varjo plans to launch its headset for VR in the fourth quarter of 2018. An AR/XR add-on is expected to be available in the first half of 2019.


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