Varjo’s $10,000 VR headset combines realities into what seems like the future

Finnish start-up Varjo has taken the VR headset to a whole new level with its XR-1. At more than $10,000, the headset is currently a business-only product, but it could provide the basis for more advanced consumer VR headsets in the near future.
Varjo XR-1
The Varjo XR-1 blends VR with reality. Photo: Varjo

The Varjo XR-1 was announced at the Augmented World Expo back in May. Now the headset is ready for demos, and it’s received quite the reception so far.

The XR-1 isn’t Varjo’s first headset, but it represents the next step on the path to creating a truly realistic AR/VR experience.

What’s so special about the XR-1?

The Varjo VR-1, which was released earlier this year, utilizes two displays and makes them appear as one using mirrors.

This gives it fantastic screen resolution, making objects appear in front of you as if they were real, rather than simply being shown on a display.

The VR-1 has been hailed as a leader in the world of VR headsets, thanks to its ultra high-definition screen.

That was until now, when its cousin the XR-1, blew it out of the water with the addition of two 12-megapixel cameras. These cameras allow it to blend what’s going on in the real world with what’s going on inside the headset.

According to reports by CNET, the two cameras on the front of the headset can feed low-latency pass-through video through to the headset screen.

A VR Volvo
The Varjo XR-1 can display rendered objects on a real background. Photo: Varjo

This allows it to blend elements from the real world, including objects like a table, or even the user’s hands, with rendered virtual reality objects.

In addition to the built-in pass-through cameras, the XR-1 takes after the VR-1 when it comes to screen resolution.

The XR-1 blends its different screens to give an increased resolution towards the centre. In the middle of the user’s field of view, the XR-1’s resolution is 60 pixels per degree.

Compared to rival AR/VR headsets, the XR-1 offers something completely new.

Discussing the product in a company statement, Varjo’s co-founder, Urho Konttori, said:

“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.”

You can see some developer footage of the XR-1 in action below.

Who is using the XR-1?

As you can probably tell by its $10,000 price tag, the Varjo XR-1 is intended to serve business customers only.

On top of the $10,000 headset, Road to VR reports that the XR-1 also comes with a mandatory one-year software and support package which costs an additional $1,995.

Varjo’s most important customer is currently Volvo, which has started using the XR-1 to test new vehicles and vehicle interfaces. Volvo has even directly invested in Varjo, a sure sign of its belief in the company.

Given the impressive capabilities of the XR-1, it’s likely many more industrial users will show an interest in the headset as a tool for testing and designing their products.

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