philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Varjo, the World’s First Human-Eye Resolution Headset

CADmodel[Philip Lelyveld comment: It sounds like they are doing foviated rendering, so their full-screen resolution claims are suspect.  But it still looks very promising.]

Varjo’s Human-Eye Resolution technology made me realize something I’d only known in a general sense prior: current visual fidelity in VR/AR has a long way to go. Varjo’s soon-to-launch headset catapults us a decade into the future in terms of what we’re actually able to see in immersive reality.

So what is Varjo? It’s a Helsinki-based company (“varjo” is “shadow” in Finnish) that’s been in stealth until now, working to develop a 70 megapixel solution for XR (by comparison, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive run about 1.2 MP). 

The company’s virtual-reality prototype, which it let me try out last week during a company visit to San Francisco, builds on an Oculus Rift with a high-resolution micro OLED display and an angled glass plate in front of the headset’s regular display. The plate—an optical combiner—lets Varjo merge the two different displays into one image that you see when you put on the headset.

You can read writing from across the room.

Inspired by the saccade model of the eye during their research, the team at Varjo realized that the human-eye actually doesn’t see the world in “human-eye resolution” across the entire field of view. Instead, it only sees accurately at 2° in the center field of vision (at around 100 px/°).

In the periphery, the eye actually only takes in about (1 px/°). So, the Varjo display was built as a gaze-based, foveated-rendering system—in other words, what you’re looking at is in crystal clarity, while the surrounding area remains at “normal” VR resolution.

The first headset has not been designed with the kind of compromises that come with creating a consumer headset. Instead, Varjo first intends to partner with select independent software vendors (ISVs) and companies whose need for visual fidelity is most pressing—whether that might exist in architecture, design, simulations/training, or otherwise.

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