Varjo Technologies, a Helsinki-based startup now out of stealth, recently demonstrated what it calls the world’s first human eye-resolution headmounted display. Intended for its own swath of Varjo-branded headsets, the new display configuration promises “unprecedented resolution of VR and AR content limited only by the perception of the human eye itself.”

According to a hands-on by Tech Crunch, the headset packs a pair of high-resolution Sony MicroOLED displays measuring 0.7 inches diagonally that boast 3,000 pixels per inch (PPI)—a significant jump from Oculus Rift of HTC Vive’s 447-461 PPI. Microdisplays don’t typically provide an acceptable field of view (FOV) for the purposes of VR, but Varjo is combining a few methods to provide the pixel-dense picture to an entire 100 degree FOV.

As reported by Tech Crunch, these microdisplays “fill up about a 20-degree field of view which is reflected off of mirrors in the headset while the wider scene is displayed on a more normal resolution display in the background.”

Codenamed 20|20, Varjo (meaning ‘shadow’ in Finnish) built their early prototype inside of a hacked Oculus Rift by a team of optical scientists, creatives and developers who formerly occupied top positions at Microsoft, Nokia, Intel, Nvidia and Rovio.

Billed as a “bionic display,” the prototype shown to Tech Crunch featured a “fixed focus display” that was set at the center point of the users vision, but the company says its currently building systems that will dynamically adjust the microdisplay-reflected image to your gaze thanks to the future addition of integrated eye-tracking technology.

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For now, the headset is destined for professional users, as the technology will no doubt require a top-in-class computer due to the graphical constraints of delivering rendered images that can make use of the display’s high pixel density. It’s also difficult to say how a hardware-based solution will stand up to everyday use since it requires lenses to physically move every time your eye shifts position.

Comparative matrix Effective resolution Field of view
Varjo 20|20 70 MP 100°
Oculus, Vive 1.2 MP 100°
VR in 5 years * 16 MP 140°
HoloLens 1 MP 32°
ODG R9 2 MP 50°
Meta II 1.8 MP 100°
* Prediction 2016 by Oculus Chief Scientist Michael Abrash at Oculus Connect 3


“Varjo’s patented display innovation pushes VR technology 10 years ahead of the current state of-the-art, where people can experience unprecedented resolution of VR and AR content limited only by the perception of the human eye itself,” said Urho Konttori, CEO and founder of Varjo Technologies. “This technology, along with Varjo VST, jump-starts the immersive computing age overnight – VR is no longer a curiosity, but now can be a professional tool for all industries.”

The high resolution display technology will be shipping in Varjo-branded products specifically for professional users and applications starting in late Q4, 2017.

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  • Get Schwifty!

    Better be careful of hacking off of someone else’s gear and admitting to it… they might find themselves dealing with Zenimax ;)

    Beyond that it’s exciting… I think they might want to consider a different name than “Varjo” – naming your product after your company is a bad idea in the long run since a bad run of a product instantly means a bad name for the company.

    That being said, if they can actually produce this with a decent tracking and controller system I am sure the market will follow.

    • Mei Ling

      “The 20/20” code-name seems like a nice name for a product.

      • Get Schwifty!

        Yeah I like that as well, has a nice ring to it.

    • Sponge Bob

      Does Oculus or Vive have you sign agreement not to hack their HMDs when you buy those for some ridiculous money from them ?
      If yes then i’ll switch to osvr hdk2 or pimax

      • Joe Bazaar

        Supreme court just ruled you can do whatever the F you want with products that you buy.

        • Firestorm185

          Do you have a link for that? Not doubting you just want to know more. ^^

          • dogtato

            I think he’s referring to Impression Products v. Lexmark. Google “supreme court printer ink”

          • Firestorm185


        • Sponge Bob

          except you can’t replicate and sell the product if its patented

  • Now we just need the graphical hardware to power the thing! I imagine even with foveated rendering, 70MP is still going to be quite an ask at >90fps

    • George Vieira IV

      I wonder what resolution a fovea sized portion of that display is.

      • David G

        I believe it’s 1080p, which would make sense given the size and PPI (0.7in/3000ppi). Not terrible, especially when you consider that the required foveated rendering for this will also reduce the required resolution for the normal display.

  • Sponge Bob

    actually, the image quality of recent HMDs from China like Pimax (4K, not even upcoming 8K version) is already excellent – I do not need it to be significantly better
    maybe double the resolusion and that;s it
    FOV sucks though and needs to be improved a lot
    Tracking is either missing or sucks
    Controllers are non-existent as far as i am concerned (what they call “controllers” are tiny pieces of useless garbage – like daydream or gearvr controllers)

  • Lucidfeuer

    Wait, actually I don’t get Varjo’s idea. There is reason why Michael Abrash, despite disagreements on arguments, targeted 16MP: this is close to the eyes resolution which can only amount to a maximum of 22MP, IF we are talking about the whole human FOV.

    What the heck are they doing with 70MP?

    But then if they actually manage to created a mechanical or even micro-lense mechanical tracking system, that’ll be interesting.

    • Sponge Bob

      even 16K is an overkill… although its nice for some things… porn maybe
      FOV is a killer
      then tracking
      then controllers
      then the whole ecosystem of killer “productivity” apps (not games)

    • Seb P

      I don’t think they’re doing 70MP, that’s a bit misleading – they’re doing about 1080p in a very small region of 20 degrees, so that the effective resolution would be 70MP if applied across the whole FOV. The area surrounding the 20 degree centre is probably also around 1080p, but across 100 degrees. It’s a clever trick to provide high-resolution foveated imaging without needing far-future graphics processing power.

      • Lucidfeuer

        That’s what I gathered from the first article, but this one misled me. That’s indeed one way to go about foveated resolution on the long term, although the continuous resolution ring around the focus area and the closer ring, or the closer ring and the rest of the FOV, are going to be challenging to tackle.

    • Juurikas

      Human eye spatial resolution in the whole field of view is over 740Mpix. But the problem is that only the 4 degree field of view area in center is over 22Mpix (around 33-40Mpix really) and rest is nothing else than blur for color and motion.

      If someone really can get a 2x 4K (2160×3840) so it would be 6K to both eyes with a about 100 degree FOV, it would be enough. Rest can be put with low resolution panels around to fill the color and motion data at about 640×480 resolution.

      • Lucidfeuer

        Yes but that’s kind of a brute force approach, and I’m pretty sure it would ruin the eyes.

        However yes, 6K per-eye is exactly enough, the challenge being to have that resolution focus tracking, which is challenging. That’s why a first mechanical design with eye-tracking would be interesting to see.

  • victor

    FOV of only 100deg? Waste of time as far as I’m concerned.

  • Chugs 1984

    Currently a HTC runs 2160×1200 (1080×1200 per eye)[2]. Multiple this by a colour depth of 24 bit and 90 hz and you have a requirement of 5.9 gbps.

    If this new VR headset is 70MP vs 1.2 MP that is the Vive then is a factor 58. So 5.9 gbps multipled by 58 = 324 gbps

    Gonna need a few video cards for all that bandwidth.