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June 19, 2017

Varjo promises a VR headset with ‘human eye-resolution’

by John_A

A Finnish company called Varjo that has been working in secret until now has unveiled a new type of VR and AR headset code-named “20/20.” It supposedly has a display with “human eye-resolution” quality of over 70 megapixels versus around 1.2 megapixels per eye for the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

Varjo (which means “shadow” in Finnish), says it achieves that feat using “patented technology that replicates how the human eye naturally works, creating a super-high-resolution image to the users gaze direction.” It was supposedly developed by scientists that “formerly occupied top positions at Microsoft, Nokia, Intel, NVIDIA and Rovio.” While the resolution is much higher than current headsets, the 100-degree field of view is the same.

The headset also uses video see-through technology for “unparalleled AR and MR capabilities,” Varjo says. In an early beta video, they showed rendered objects like cars, planets and free-form artwork overlaid on top of a real room, much like Microsoft’s Hololens or the so-far-unreleased Magic Leap AR headset.

So how does it work? The information is pretty vague, but Varjo says it combined a context display, focus display, optical combiner and gaze tracker into a “bionic display” for human-eye resolution in VR, AR and XR. The company adds that the system has low computing requirements thanks to “foveated eye tracking.”

We take that to mean that the 70-megapixel resolution is limited to what you’re looking directly at, while anything in your peripheral vision renders at a lower resolution. That’s just a guess, however, as the company hasn’t even showed what the headset itself looks like. It did show off some images that come with it, though, and as you can see above, they’re of significantly higher resolution than the Oculus Rift or Vive, something that would no doubt make the VR and AR experience more immersive.

Varjo says its tech “pushes VR technology 10 years ahead of the current state-of-the-art,” but there are a lot of questions left unanswered, such as the latency, frame rate and how they plan to produce and display content at such a high resolution. As it stands now, it takes a reasonably high-end PC to view content on a Vive or Rift.

Hopefully we’ll know more soon and get a demo, as the company has promised to ship “Varjo-branded products specifically for professional users and applications starting in late Q4, 2017.”

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