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Varjo Announces Groundbreaking Mixed Reality Headset—XR-1 Developer Edition

XR-1 Delivers Photo-realistic visual fidelity in full field view, resulting in true Mixed Reality indistinguishable from the real world. Volvo Cars also invest in Varjo after groundbreaking first application.


Varjo™ (Shadow in Finnish) Technologies of Helsinki, the world leader in industrial grade VR/XR headsets, today announced its much-anticipated mixed-reality (MR) headset, the new XR-1. The XR-1 Developer Edition is a truly cutting edge MR device that delivers on the company’s promise of making the virtual indistinguishable from reality.

The XR-1 Developer Edition will be shipping in the second half of 2019 to leading mixed reality developers, designers, and researchers worldwide.

The Groundbreaking New XR-1

The XR-1 is the world’s only headset capable of delivering photorealistic image quality with integrated eye tracking. It builds on top of Varjo’s existing human-eye resolution VR-1 device, something Architosh recently wrote about in great detail last month. The user upgrades the VR-1 with a front plate featuring dual 12-megapixel cameras. The core technology making photorealism possible is the video-pass-through. It means the device uses cameras to digitize the world in real time and then multiplexes it inside the GPU with the virtual content to show the combined result to the user. The Varjo VR-1 is the only device with the high resolution to make the seamless visual blending possible between virtual and real, and the XR-1 is the only camera technology capable of producing high resolution with unperceived latency (<15 ms).

Varjo’s new XR-1 Developer Edition is a groundbreaking device that works by adding technology to its existing VR-1 headset. (image: Varjo / Architosh. All rights reserved.)

Competitor devices in the MR space deliver ghost-like, semi-transparent renderings in limited view areas inside the device, but the XR-1 enables virtual content in a full field of view. Unlike rival devices, those virtual objects appear as real as anything in the physical world and can themselves cast shadows or even illuminate objects in reality. Black objects appear truly black, opaque objects indeed block real or virtual light, and semi-transparent objects will refract the light from the real world behind it. The results are remarkable.

MORE: Finland’s Varjo is a Game-Changer—VR-1 with Bionic Display Can Transform Industries

And unlike any other device on the market, the VR-1 with XR-1 technology enables the user to switch seamlessly between mixed reality and full virtual reality modes. Depth sensors in the XR-1 allow the mapping of real-life objects and environments for building natural occlusion. Examples of the usefulness of this technology include UX design, collaboration, and photorealistic 3D models, training and simulation, as well as research and data analytics across real and virtual environments with XR-1’s 20/20 Eye Tracker technology.

“XR-1 brings all the convenience of seeing your body as well as the real world around you and being able to look at your colleagues while designing a virtual object or environment,” said Urho Kontorri, Chief Product Officer and co-founder, Varjo. “The XR-1 can show mixed reality with true-to-life fidelity you can only achieve using video-pass through. Lifelike mixed reality is quite literally impossible to achieve with optical-see-through systems like Hololens.”

The Volvo Cars Investment

One of the closest partners working with Varjo to take advantage of the XR-1 is Volvo Cars® (Gothenburg, Sweden), which is using the device to test-drive virtual car designs on the road. The work is groundbreaking, and Volvo Cars have used XR-1 prototypes for this new workflow since the summer of 2018. (see: Architosh, “Volvo Cars and Varjo Announce World’s First Mixed Reality Application for Car Development,” 29 May 2019).

In a world first, Volvo Cars engineers are able to drive test cars with a Mixed Reality device while driving. Volvo applications of the XR-1 have led to their investment in Varjo Technologies. (image: Varjo / Architosh. All rights reserved.)

By adding virtual elements to the interior of the car, Volvo Cars designers are able to perform design-studies of future cars before they are even built. Volvo Cars engineers have also been test-driving a real car with the driver wearing an XR-1 headset. Adding photorealistic virtual elements or complete features to the test scenarios while driving (world first) enables UX concepts to be quickly iterated. The car designers can add virtual automobiles or unexpected road hazards (such as a virtual moose) to the road for realism, resulting in faster turnaround times and ultimately safer cars.

Volvo has been sufficiently impressed by Varjo’s technology that it is no longer just a partner. As of May 2019, Varjo will receive an investment by the Volvo Cars Tech Fund, the Swedish car maker’s venture capital fund that invests in high-potential technology start-ups.

“With Varjo XR-1, we can start evaluating designs and technologies while they are literally still on the drawing board,” said Henrik Green, Chief Technology Officer at Volvo Cars. “Instead of the usual static way of evaluating new products and ideas, we can test concepts on the road immediately. This approach offers considerable potential cost savings by clearing bottlenecks much earlier in the design and development process.”

About Varjo

Varjo Technologies Oy is based in Helsinki and is creating the world’s best hardware and software for groundbreaking VR/AR/XR computing devices, merging the real and digital worlds seamlessly together in human-eye resolution.

To learn more visit them online here:

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