New High-End Varjo XR-1 Headset Claims Absolute Photorealism
Andrew Wheeler posted on December 09, 2019 |

Varjo has had a productive year. The company released its first product called VR-1 in February. It released its second product series called VR-2 and VR-2 Pro in October.

Varjo designs high-end virtual reality headsets that are not meant for individual consumers but are instead for enterprise uses. The VR-2 had similar specs to the VR-1. Both products have the same focus and context display specs, but a better optical combiner and the addition of a diffuser gave the VR-2 display a cleaner look and feel.

The differences between the VR-2 (USD 5,000) and the VR-2 Pro (USD 6,000) are mainly the inclusion of Ultraleap hand tracking on the VR-2 Pro. Both headsets have eye tracking. Both headsets have built-in SteamVR tracking and support for SteamVR content. The VR-2 Pro has a 10-meter cable and removable counterweight versus the VR-2, which has a 5-meter cable and no counterweight.

Varjo XR-1 Developer Edition. (Image courtesy of Varjo.)
Varjo XR-1 Developer Edition. (Image courtesy of Varjo.)


The XR-1 Developer Edition headset was recently released, and this one differs from Varjo’s previous products fundamentally because it is a mixed reality headset. Users can switch from immersive VR content in a fully digital purview to mixed reality, where digital objects are overlaid into a view of the physical world.

Varjo claims that this is the first headset that is so photorealistic that users won’t be able to tell the difference between the VR content and the real world. It doesn’t quite look like that in the video above, but it is far superior to the level of photorealism present in either Oculus Rift or HTC Vive products.

XR-1has an 87-degree field of view (FoV), and an industrial-grade 20/20 Eye Tracker, which “delivers unmatched sub-degree accuracy of users’ eye movements in mixed reality scenarios for valuable insights into research, training and simulation and product design.”

The imaging pipeline has very low latency and the pixel density is very high at 60 PPD/3000 PPI for enterprise and industrial applications that require extreme degrees of precision. And some enterprise product designers in the automotive industry are already using them.

One example is Volvo Cars. It’s been privy to XR-1 prototypes since 2018. The company has used them to add photorealistic virtual objects and elements to the interior of digital prototypes. Having the ability to design large-scale products in both VR and mixed reality gave Volvo Cars a unique idea: drive a real car with the XR-1 headset on.

The 20/20 Eye Tracker, photorealism and the ability to add in virtual elements gave test drivers the opportunity to do things like brake when a virtual moose appeared out of nowhere while allowing the designers to understand the ergonomics of their design choices for the car’s interior.

The XR-1 Developer Edition costs USD$/EUR€9,995 and the company will be showcasing a mixed reality T-6 flight simulator among other training and simulation applications at I/ITSEC 2019.

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