Varjo Announces Next-Generation ‘Human Eye Resolution’ VR-3 And XR-3 Headsets

The latest offerings from Finnish ‘Resolution Revolution’ headset manufacturer sport improved optics, performance, and ergonomics—with major new price points.

This story originally appeared on Forbes.

When I first demoed an early prototype of Varjo’s “human-eye resolution” headset line three years ago, it was clear that Varjo was in a class of its own. Even that first glimpse was enough to tease a vision of extended reality (XR) that until then had felt more like a far-off fantasy than a coming reality.

Of course, that horsepower came at a cost. The company’s first-generation VR headset, the VR-1, retailed at $5,995 at launch in February 2019, with the XR-1 development rig—which allows users to treat the headset as both a virtual and mixed/augmented reality device—landing just south of $10k when it was rolled out in Dec. 2019.

With the announcement of the VR-3 and XR-3, Varjo has implemented key improvements to its already stellar headset line—and notably done so while nearly halving the price of its XR line.

“Our team has been working non-stop throughout 2020 to further push the envelope of what is possible in XR and VR. The new XR-3 and VR-3 are the most advanced, zero-compromise devices on the market and suitable for any professional workflow,” said Urho Konttori, co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Varjo, in a statement.

By now it’s clear that remote work is anything but a passing phase—emerging instead as a core component of the future of work. As employers continue to grapple with the new opportunities, needs, and challenges this shift entails, Varjo is stepping to the moment with the most sophisticated XR headsets in history.

Like the VR-1, VR-2, and XR-1 before it, Varjo’s products are still designed for high-end and professional users for whom fidelity isn’t just a luxury—think training, design, medicine, engineering—but by repositioning its price point, Varjo broadens its potential base considerably.

These headsets ship in early 2021, and offer upgrades in performance, optics, hygiene, tracking, depth awareness.

The Visuals

One of the most notable improvements in both the VR-3 and XR-3 is the field of view (FOV), which has jumped from 87° with 14 pixels per degree (PPD) in the XR-1 to 115° with variable resolution ranging from 27 PPD at the furthest edge and a staggering 71 PPD in the human-eye resolution area. And, integrating feedback from customers, Varjo has both expanded the human-eye resolution area and reoriented it slightly lower so that it better aligns with the area where users want the highest visual fidelity.

Built on Varjo’s full frame Bionic Display, which was originally introduced in the company’s VR-2 line last fall, these headsets also support ultra-high resolution across the full frame, increasing the clarity of peripheral content.

The XR-3 also features LiDAR with 5m of depth awareness and stereo RGB video passthrough. This is key in facilitating precise understanding of spaces for a seamless integration of virtual objects in real-world environments.

“We are especially excited by the introduction of depth awareness in the XR-3 through combined LiDAR and RGB video, enabling the most realistic mixed reality experiences ever seen,” Konttori said. “With our highest-performance XR, Varjo is setting the new standard for professional immersive computing and paving the way for a collaborative, cloud-enabled mixed reality workplace.”

More Performance

Varjo claims its latest line of headsets offers “twice the performance for enhanced levels of realism and visual clarity,” sporting refresh rates of 90 Hz and notably eye tracking at rates up to 200 Hz.

Both headsets have integrated Ultraleap hand tracking and are compatible with Unity, Unreal Engine, OpenXR 1.0 (beginning in early 2021), and hundreds of other 3D platforms, including Autodesk VRED, Lockheed Martin Prepar3d, and VBS BlueIG and FlightSafety Vital. The VR-3 and XR-3 still work with SteamVR base stations, but the XR-3 also features the first inside-out tracking of any Varjo headset, which improves accuracy and convenience for users.

Ergonomics

Both the VR-3 and XR-3 feature an all new 3-point precision fit headband, which is 40% lighter than previous editions and can be adjusted across three different dials to fit a broad span of head types. Interpupillary distance (IPD) is detected automatically, and an ultra-wide optical design with bioconvex lenses removes reflections, decreasing eye strain—particularly important during long sessions in-headset.

In light of renewed concern about cleanliness in a post-Covid world, the company has also implemented hygiene upgrades, including easy-to-clean materials and active cooling to decrease face and head sweat.

Pricing

The pricing structure involves the base device cost and a yearly Varjo Subscription, which is required for a one-year minimum. All prices below are both USD and EUR:

  • VR-3: $3,195. Subscription: $795. Total minimum cost: $3,990

  • XR-3: $5,495. Subscription: $1,495. Total minimum cost: $6,990

Headsets are available for preorder now, with shipments beginning in early 2021. For more information, visit the official Varjo website.