Varjo Announces XR-1 Developer Edition, A Video-Pass-Through Headset For Engineers
XR-1 delivers photorealistic visual fidelity in full field of view, resulting in mixed reality; Volvo Cars invests in technology.
May 29, 2019
Varjo Technologies, developer of industrial-grade VR/XR headsets, now offers the company’s new headset named XR-1 Developer Edition. Shipping XR- 1 to mixed reality developers and designers is expected in the second half of 2019.
The XR-1 is a headset capable of delivering photorealistic image quality with integrated eye tracking. The XR-1 upgrades Varjo’s human-eye resolution headset (VR-1) with a front plate featuring dual 12 mpx cameras. The core technology is video-pass-through. It means that 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 XR-1 enables examining photorealistic mixed reality in a full field of view. With the XR-1 virtual objects appear as real as anything in the physical world and can cast shadows or even illuminate reality. Black objects appear black, opaque objects block real or virtual light, and semi-transparent objects will refract the light from the real world behind it. With advanced color matching technology, the colors are rendered for product trials and show cases.
For the first time, users can also switch between mixed reality and full virtual reality modes. The depth sensors in XR-1 allow mapping real-life objects and environments for building natural occlusion. Examples of industrial applications for the device include UX design, collaboration with 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.
“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,” says Urho Konttori, chief product officer and co-founder of Varjo. “The XR-1 can show mixed reality with true-to-life fidelity you can only achieve using video-pass- through.”
One of the partners working with Varjo to use the XR-1 is Volvo Cars (Gothenburg, Sweden), which is using the device to test-drive virtual car designs on the road. Volvo Cars has used XR-1 prototypes for this new workflow since the summer of 2018.
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.
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,” says 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.”
Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website.
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