The virtual reality company Varjo, known for its unusual dual-resolution screens, has a new generation of virtual and augmented reality headsets. It promises even higher resolution, a wider field of view and AR with advanced depth mapping.
Varjos PC-bound VR-3 and XR-3 both have some of the sharpest screens you will find in VR and AR. The headsets use two panels for each eye: a small 1920 x 1920 screen in the center of your vision, and a 2880 x 2720 panel for the rest of the screen. It provides an extremely clear image when looking straight ahead and a more standard (albeit still high) VR resolution for your peripheral vision. Previous Varjo devices used the same strategy with lower resolution panels; VR-1
The original Varjo screen (as it calls a “bionic screen”) had a relatively narrow, boxy field of view, but the VR-3 and XR-3 have expanded it to offer a 115-degree horizontal FOV. It is higher than the rather expansive Valve Index and significantly larger than low-end consumer headsets. (These headphones usually have closer to 110 degrees diagonally FOV, which translates to 100 degrees or less horizontally.)
The XR-3 and VR-3 use the same screen, and both have hand and eye tracking, as well as the same 90Hz refresh rate. But the XR-3 also includes cameras and LIDAR sensors that make it an AR headset by combining virtual objects with a flow of video feeds. This makes the XR-3 slightly heavier than the VR-3, at 594 grams compared to 558 grams, plus the weight of a headband that should evenly and comfortably distribute the weight. (The recent Oculus Quest 2, a completely standalone device, weighs 503 grams in total.)
Varjo’s review of the AR approach produces a much larger product than AR glasses such as Microsoft HoloLens, which project light through a pair of transparent glasses in the real world. But it also creates much more solid virtual objects, similar to the AR images you find on phones and tablets. LIDAR – which Apple incorporated in its iPad Pro 2020 – helps the headset to map the outside world more accurately. You can still get some obvious “stories”, such as that the lighting of virtual objects does not match a real room. But better mapping means that, for example, physical objects can realistically occlude virtual ones.
Varjo still does not throw his headphones to consumers. The XR-3 costs $ 5,495 and requires a one-year subscription of $ 1,495 Varjo software support. The VR-3 costs $ 3,195 and requires a similar $ 795 subscription. But there is still a big cut from the $ 9,995 XR-1 and $ 4,995 VR-2. The goal is a headset that several companies and other organizations can afford. The higher resolution can meanwhile help with specific use cases. VR-3 and XR-3’s sharper peripheral vision means that pilots in training can look around in a virtual cockpit and get a clear picture, for example – mimicking how they want to act while flying a real plane. Varjo also promises better color accuracy with the XR-3 cameras, so doctors can look better at something like a rash while taking medication.
VR-1, VR-2 and XR-1 were announced and released within months in a row, and VR-3 and XR-3 will be released about a year later. Varjo does not expect to continue this tight hardware release cycle. With screen resolution enhancement, higher field of view and other features in place, it will focus on scaling up deliveries and improving performance via software adjustments.
The XR-3 and VR-3 are both available for purchase today, and shipments will begin in early 2021.