Inside the Latest Varjo Prototype

Image courtesy Varjo

Having had a chance to get my eyes into various Varjo prototypes over the course of the last year, including the most recent prototype this week at VRX 2018 in San Francisco, I’ve seen impressive progress as the company tackles the truly challenging part of creating a successful product—the last 5%.

Near-final Hardware

I wasn’t allowed to take any photos of the latest prototype, but I can describe it. Compared to earlier prototypes using 3D printed parts, the latest version is using near-final plastics and has a more refined design. This is also the first time I’ve seen the headset equipped with a headstrap, which looks and functions quite similarly to other rigid straps: there’s a part which cradles the back of the head, a top strap which can be adjusted, and a knob on the back to tighten the sides.

The headset is a bit bulky, but not unusably so, and now has active cooling (a fan which spits heat out the top of the headset). Varjo’s Chief Product Officer, Urho Konttori, said about the need for active cooling, “[There’s essentially] two VR headsets in this headset,” referring to the extra pair of displays (and electronics to drive them) and the heat thus generated.

This is a prior prototype (as photos of the latest were not permitted); the new version looks similar though more refined, now with a rigid head strap and much thinner cabling which is out of the way. | Photo by Road to VR

The shipping version of the Varjo headset will lack integrated audio, which was decided because they expect that high-end enterprise customers will often not need audio for their purposes, or choose to use high-grade headphones if they do, Konttori said.

Smartly, Varjo also added an ‘app button’ to the top if the headset, allowing the wearer to perform simple actions like interface selections without needing to pick up controllers. That ought to be especially useful for their customers which are likely to be using the headset for pure viewing more often than interaction.


This is also the first time Varjo is showcasing the headset’s eye-tracking technology which they claim is built in-house and is the most accurate and precise solution among any currently available. They say they plan to release “neutral studies” in the near future to support that claim, and specifically say their solution achieves an accuracy of 1° and precision of 0.2°.

Varjo has been talking about the possibility of creating a hardware foveated display, meaning that the high-resolution region would follow your gaze (thanks to eye-trakcing)  to always be at the center no matter where you look, but they opted to bring the first version of their headset to market sooner rather than later, leaving hardware foveation still in R&D. The company isn’t ruling it out for future headsets, but eye-tracking in the first headset will only be used for software-based purposes.


Another older Varjo prototype, the latest is a bit more compact and is no longer handheld. | Photo by Road to VR

While there hasn’t been a massive visual change from the last prototype, steady refinements continue. Earlier prototypes had a quite noticeable halo effect at the border between the high resolution and low resolution portions of the view. On the latest prototype this has been reduced quite a bit, leaving a surprisingly seamless blend between the displays. It isn’t invisible, but it has come far enough that it’s unquestionably worth the slight artifact for the benefit of retina resolution at the center of the view.

Varjo Reveals Add-on for High Quality Pass-through AR, Launching in 2019


The bulky tether from this older prototype has been seriously slimmed down. | Photo by Road to VR

The headset’s tether has been extended to an impressive 10 meters (33 feet) thanks to a new fiber optic cable which Varjo says maintains the bandwidth needed to drive the headset’s four displays even at that distance. It’s also surprisingly thin, about the same size as the tether on any consumer headset. The tether connects to a breakout box near the host PC which splits out cables which connect to a handful of ports (display and USB).

Quick Fixes

On the latest prototype there’s a few issues which the company told me are easy fixes which will come before launch. For one, I saw internal reflections on the edges of the high-res display and some screen-tearing too. Varjo’s Chief Product Officer, Urho Konttori, told me that the internal reflections were due to a missing anti-reflective coating on the latest lenses and that the screen tearing was related to a driver issue; both to be fixed before launch. I believe that because I’ve not seen either of those issues on previous prototypes.

Another issue is that the latest prototype seems to have a smaller total field of view than previous version. Konttori said this was caused by the foam face padding being thicker than intended, not allowing the eyes to get as close to the lenses as before. He also assured that this would be fixed ahead of launch.

And finally, Varjo is sending off their displays to Technicolor ahead of launch for a precise color and luminance calibration, which will help to further blend the displays together.

– – — – –

Given the asking price and capabilities of Varjo’s headset, it’s becoming increasingly clear which kinds of companies will see the most value from the product, namely: major enterprises that deal in high-cost design (architectural, industrial, automotive, etc) and likely companies needing to train for high-risk/high-cost/high-fidelity tasks like surgery. For use-cases which don’t demand retina fidelity, Varjo’s headset will likely be overkill, but for those that do it stands out as the singular option.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • impurekind

    I’m sooo happy that VR is progressing so fast. It’s already amazing imo, even with its obvious current limitations, but in a couple of generations it’s going to utterly blow most people away.

    • Arcticu Kitsu

      Agreed! I joined in December 2017 to exploit VR’s awesomeness in VRchat that I’ve seen VR grow from there. From a desktop user to a Rift owner myself that i’ve seen people leveling up to using Full body tracking VR to dance (check dancing videos) to then use Kinect (the amusement), and to these maybe. People always want to be at the cutting edge for VRchat so they can be closer to celebrity status; To show off.

      I’m now expecting some VRchat Youtuber/Twitcher to try this in full body tracking, and such…… The crazy things people do that I love it. Introduce this to the VRchat crowd then you’ll really see this selling like hotcakes. The tech side of VR is insane that I love it.

      • polysix

        I’d really have loved to read what you wrote, but in English.

        • Francesco Fazio


    • Muzufuzo

      funny how I perceive VR progress as slow, following news since 2012
      by now I expected Vive 2 and Rift 2 with much better specs at 500$

      • Andrew Jakobs

        I have been following VR progress since 1995, and it certainly has progressed much faster the last 5 years than it had in the previous 20 years..

        • Muzufuzo

          I agree but for VR to flourish we need these 4 things as soon as possible:
          ▪much faster medium-range GPUs (like 580 and 1060 now)
          ▪much higher res displays
          ▪foveated rendering
          ▪optics without radial blur, chromatic abberation and godrays

        • HybridEnergy

          Well, it’s usually depended on other tech. The boost and demand of smart phones and their competition for the highest resolution while the most compact screens helped VR screens become a sooner reality .

      • nebošlo

        Same, I fully expected a proper 2nd generation by now, instead we’re gettinga mid-gen refresh next year (if I’m not mistaken).

      • Minjae Sheen

        We already know Rift 2 isn’t happening. Oculus itself is not so sure of their next machine that they decided to call it S, just like minor upgrade iphone.
        Vive? Even if it happens, do you truly think they will sell you a next one with $500 when we are seeing the Pro going for $800?

        • Muzufuzo

          I also am pessimistic for 2019 in VR but it’s simply necessary to release something considerably better at the same price for VR to really sprout. Progress between DK1 in 2013 and CV1 in 2016 was very substantial but after that it slowed down, with Vive Pro costing twice as much it doesn’t make sense. Even the older Vive is too costly for most potential buyers (so they go with Sony instead), let alone the newer blue one.

          • Muzufuzo

            the positive for 2019 is Vive Pro Eye which finally introduces eye-tracking and foveated rendering which greatly reduces processing speed needed for high res like 2x4K or 2x8K, price of the headset though…

        • Muzufuzo

          As for Quest, it just doesn’t have the necessary processing speed. Even the upcoming Snapdragon 855 wouldn’t be enough, let alone 835. Windows PC VR cannot work on that, especially with Vive Pro screen resolution.

    • Francesco Fazio

      Are you kidding me ? As long as a device is costing 10k I dont consider that an “advance” of any kind. It is an advance when something breakthrough is released and at a cost people can afford. 300 – 400 dollars MAX.

      • impurekind

        The tech is advancing, and that’s good for everyone in the long run.

        • Mikael Korpinen

          Not really I tried the headset and talked to the guys, they use their own sdk. So even if they push it cheaper you would not be able to play games, because of incompatibility issues. They are more like going backwards. things like multi platform support and maintenance + backward and forward compatibility are things of today. It’s a very custom tech that will be replaced by better alternatives in the future I think. Unless they figure out how to make it so that it fixes those issues.

      • Minjae Sheen

        I agree with Francesco. We already have all the technology available for great VR experience. Those folks did not “invent” them. Everyone seem to be putting together expensive technology, call them innovation, and get kick starter funding.

  • kuhpunkt

    What kind of tracking do they use? Lighthouses? Cameras?

    • Bob

      Probably Valve’s tracking solution. In fact this is most likely.

    • benz145

      @disqus_4e2PIma4qr:disqus is right, it’s SteamVR Tracking 2.0 build into the headset.

      • kuhpunkt

        Neat :)

  • Schadows

    So they plan to release their first model without eyetracking (meaning if looking off the center will be a mess) at 5K dollars minimum ? Good luck.

    • Bob

      Enterprise customers usually don’t give a crap about cost just the functionality. It’s the only product that offers this level of resolution which is a boon to a lot of industry sectors (engineering in particular).

      • Schadows

        Price is justified through ROI, and quite frankly, I don’t think it is here with this product

        • Bryan Ischo

          OK so I guess we just wait to see if random internet person has a better idea of the optimal price point for the product than the company actually producing it and betting their livelihoods on it.

          • Schadows

            I’m not really critical about the price itself, but the lack of improvement for this price, which makes the ROI very difficult to attain.
            Not high FOV, limited area for the high density panel, and so on …

            Also, professionals who would reaaaaaally benefit to work in VR environments (it’s not always more pratical to work on engineering through a human point of view) are quite a limited market too (especially considering the limited improvements), and the entertainment industry doesn’t seem so keen to expand their VR market seeing how even IMAX VR centers are struggling to stay open.

            And quite frankly, seeing that they are already working on another prototype with eyetracking (which is is similar to the Facebook patent discovered yesterday), who in their right minds would invest in a not-so-useful / pratically-already-obsolete tech ?

            But well, that wouldn’t be the first time a company dash into the wall when others see it happen from miles away.

          • ZenInsight

            Yep. If it isn’t at least 150 FOV (preferably 170) thanks

          • HybridEnergy

            That’s not the market, when AUDI wants to show off their dash to a CEO in VR they want the most crisp image possible, they aren’t playing Skyrim VR to care about the FOV.

      • Mikael Korpinen

        What part of engineering? I mean what engineering requires you to be in office looking at something at high resolution, when you can zoom in with various ways. It would be easier and cheaper to make scope effect from games that would allow to look distant object at high resolution

    • impurekind

      Well it won’t look like a “mess” outside of the center; it will just look like any other current VR headset, which is totally fine.

      • Schadows

        Not really (I’m talking about how it will feel, not how it will actually be).

        Think of every upgrade you had so far, be it consoles, PC parts, etc … and think how you felt when you had to go back. Immediately, your experience which was fine until now becomes sub-par.

        That’s what will also happen there too. The image on the center will be terrific, but looking at its periphery, with such a contrasting resolution, with make you feel the image is in a poorer quality than it really is.

    • As a person that wears glasses I find it quite natural to move my head and not my eyes from a mostly central position, this kinda replicates that. Occasionally I will look to the side if something caught my eye but it is not my main point of focus and I never look beyond my glasses frame even though I can see there, it is lower resolution :)

      • Schadows

        I wear glasses too, but obviously, they are way larger than the HR screen they will place on the center.
        And even very subtly, you move your focus on a things without moving your head, like when reading a page, etc.

      • HybridEnergy

        Must be the same thing for me, because I don’t seem to be bother by sweet spot issues as much as others. I move my head around probably like a Chicken lol, cause of my glasses.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      It’s not targeted at people like you.. It’s targeted at industry which really don’t care about stuff like that, and for whom 5K isn’t much especially if it can make it much better in sharpness than the headsets they already own, they’ll put up with the slight inconvenience of not having it tracked. Let’s not forget, most headsets out there today also only have their sharpest image at the center, so in that regard there isn’t much difference.. And once there’s a better headset out, they’ll just dump this one and buy the new one.

      • Schadows

        If you read my other answers, you will see that I was plainly aware that it is targeted at professionals. But as already explained, the ROI is painfully low.

        Don’t expect company to throw away their money just because it’s not a for personal use. Unless there is lobbying, a responsible company will evaluate all its options.
        I work for IT companies that also wish to use VR and AR into their offers, but every times, but costs and return over investment are always on their mind when taking decisions (even rejecting good ideas/solutions because there are too expensive for what they would earn)

        • Andrew Jakobs

          propably small companies, because I know enough companies that wouldn’t even blink an eye if it costs less than $50.000..

          • Schadows

            It all depends on how much they plan to make with this, and how much more they plan to make with such a unit instead of a Vive Pro or Rift for example.

            If it is to their advantage, sure they will spend as much as needed.

    • bmichaelb

      The way I read it, is they have the eye-tracking already, and even their website lists “Integrated 100Hz stereo eye-tracking” in the prototype’s specs that you can sign up for early access. What isn’t going to be released in the first wave, is their own ‘hardware foveated display” that they say they’re thinking of. Right now, the unit would only work with ‘software-based’ foveated rendering.

      • Schadows

        Probably (they never actually talked about software fovated rendering in the article).
        Still, saying the next version will have hardware fovated rendering doesn’t make the 1st model very appealing, even for companies who will see it as a investment in close-to obsolete tech.

        • bmichaelb

          Well, they didn’t actually say ‘rendering’, but that’s what I assumed they meant by foveated. They did however specifically say, “but eye-tracking in the first headset will only be used for software-based purposes.”

          As for the next model…nobody had hardware-based foveated ‘anything’ right now, so I don’t see why you’d think the first gen wouldn’t be so appealing. Everyone’s working on foveated rendering…and they’re all using software to do it.

    • Engineer_92

      Eye tracking will be software based not hardware based in their first iteration

    • Mikael Korpinen

      Actually the part outside the high resolution area is the same quality as vive or vive pro. The only bad side about that is the visible fabric effect on the area around the hires part. That and many others. You are pretty much paying for mirror and 2 screens at 5-10 k euros and can’t even play already existing games or software made without their own sdk. Lol

      • Schadows

        As said in other answers, the fact of putting side by side a high density screen and a “normal” screen will inevitably make the normal screen look worse than it really is.
        You can verify this every time a new tech is released.

        That and saying the hardware eyetracking solution is already being worked on doesn’t push the professional to invest is almost already obsolete tech.

  • JesuSaveSouls

    Hopefully it becomes available before going out of business.The wonderful thing about life is,its only enjoyable truly when you live for God and serve others.

    • theonlyrealconan

      To be fair, i am still enjoying my life after i painted my rift red, glued devil horns on it, and bought myself a few new toys for christmas on amazon.

    • HybridEnergy

      Man, that changed subjects quickly. lmao

  • Krister Nielsen

    The only reason why i haven’t bought a VR headset yet is because of the poor resolution. The sooner this is “fixed”, the sooner i can get one. Details and fidelity is very important.

    • doug

      Full immersion with tracked controllers and headset, even in today’s-resolution VR, is a much more fulfilling use of my gaming time than a keyboard and mouse game on a flat monitor, no matter how high the resolution.

      • kontis

        This is a very subjective thing. Some people care more about FOV, some prefer resolution.

    • Arcticu Kitsu

      Well, then you’re missing out for being too picky. I’ve seen things far better in VR than it is in desktop mode that I’ve enjoyed what I seen. I’ve seen the insane life-like detail in a game called VRchat in a world named ‘Randevouz’ that you should check it out. Same with ‘Heavy Cruiser Suzuya’, also in VRchat. Seeing the smoke plum off in the distance….. Yeah, you can still make detailing out (sometimes better) in VR that I prefer VR.

      VRchat is my hub VR game that you should simply check it out. Loosen up, have fun, and the fun shall over-ride any pickiness…. Beat Saber is fun, as is Furious Seas, and even Tales of Glory…….

      You’re missing out….. ‘Titanic: Honor and Glory’ has VR that it should surprise you, unless you’re ultra picky that things in the real world may bore you as well.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      And the main reason why there aren’t any high resolution headsets yet is the price of the panels needed for VR (nope your 4K smartphone panel isn’t lowlatency) at consumer prices, and especially the GPU’s needed to drive those headsets, even the 2080ti won’t be able to drive a headset like that with everything on expected visual settings, and the 2080ti is already WAAAAAAYYY out of consumer level pricing (even the regular 2080 is).. So only a very small group of people would be able to buy it, and that group is just way too small for a company to spend so much money on developing a headset with those high specs.
      The only way you’ll be able to get these (decent) high resolution headsets is if you spend thousands of dollars on those professional headset targeted at industry.

  • Blufor

    The demand is there, and the market has proven itsself. Its only a matter of time before we have true-to-life realism in our VR headsets!!! yes please! :)

    • Adam Broadhurst

      How are you going to power that true-lie-realism?
      You’ll be waiting 10 years minimum for GPU’s powerful enough

      • Drumbo


      • Mikael Korpinen

        You don’t need to render insane amount of pixels to get super sharp fov image. This is example of it. You only need background screen with enough resolution to fool the eye and second screen which project high resolution image. these can be blended with a mirror and glass planes

      • Jimmie Rustles

        So what? 10 years is nothing.

  • cataflic

    I didn’t get if Varjo headset has now the central seuperscreen following eye-tracking in any way….
    This is the mean question….otherwise what’s new????

    • Laurence Nairne

      No it doesn’t, it remains in the centre.

  • sfmike

    Nice to see this kind of tech developing but we can be sure it will go the way of StarVR when the investors see it isn’t going to bring in the millions that past fantasy VR profit projections suggested. We can only hope one of the big companies can use this tech and others to add to consumer grade HMDs.

    • Hivemind9000

      Well there’s a chance they will be successful. Look at Hololens – just signed at $480m contract with the military. It really depends on the size of the vertical markets they are targeting, and whether their product fills a need. StarVR was an entertainment product focusing in wide FOV – and it seems like it wasn’t a good price/market matchup. This looks like it’s focusing on technical industries (surgeon training etc) which is big business in itself – plenty of companies making a lot of money in those markets.

  • ZenInsight

    If it isn’t at least 150 degrees FOV.. pass.

    • R3ST4RT

      Troll is trolling…

      • ZenInsight

        Huh? After playing Fruit Ninja with an Oculus or Vive… you wouldn’t call Troll.

    • HybridEnergy

      152 degrees for me. If it’s 151 or less it’s a paper weight.

    • Jukka Muhonen

      You can get desired degrees if you put it in microwave oven.

      • ZenInsight

        Lol. Slightly warped version

  • Dave

    I’ve always thought the left and right images could complement each other detail wise which when brought together you would see twice the detail in at least the area where the left and right lenses coverge. It seems pretty simple. I don’t know if that is going on here but thats something I would look into if I was making a VR headset.

    There would be absolutely no performance loss with this method as the resolution per eye is the same, it’s just interleaved per eye like a 1080i ‘HR Ready’ display – which given the high refresh of VR shouldn’t be a problem.

    • StaceySoy

      Anything that is within the FOV of both eyes but only appears in one eye will be semi-transparent and will always appear at the focal depth for that particular lens.

  • Cdaked

    The high-resolution region has to follow your gaze. And why not start using two angled panels for greater FOV, like Pimax, StarVR, XTAL…?

  • Dave

    Judging by the 15 cables coming out of the headset they are not using VirtualLink so probably haven’t even connected up to a 2080Ti yet. Of course I’m sure they’ll address that with the launch version.

    Form factor looks good though like the Oculus but the FoV is probably last gen (100 degrees or so) by the looks of the lenses so that’s a fail already.

    • Laurence Nairne

      That’s a previous prototype – Ben wasn’t allowed to publish photos of the latest build.

  • bud01

    That steering column looks super clean, you can see the imperfections in the actual plastic, this headset along with ray tracing is going to look really wonderful.

    • Baldrickk

      I’m wondering where all the noise in the other image came from though, if the footage was the same for both…

      • Mikael Korpinen

        I tried the headset. The high resolution part is super clean, but the low res has visible fabric effect that is boosted by the clean area of hires part

  • I Can Has KPop

    Seems great on the surface, but even if this were priced for consumers, nobody seems to realize that this will just increase the minimum specs of the computer hardware needed to run it, meaning it will be even more expensive than it already is. Few people are prepared to spend upwards of $800 for a video card that can handle it, to say nothing about the rest of the components. Even current gen RTX 2080’s don’t have the horsepower needed to drive a Samsung Odyssey+ (which has the highest resolution you can get in a VR unit right now, other than Pimax and a few other experimental units) at at constant 90 fps on every VR game, and ray-tracing is just going to cut your frame rate in half, so good luck with that.

    • Adam Broadhurst

      PC hardware as some years before it catches up with VR headsets
      An RTX 2080 struggles to maintain 90fps on Vive and Rift resolution VR titles.
      I have a GTX 1080 and i can play most VR games fine with graphics toned down but its a constant battle trying to get 90fps on decent VR games.
      And the longer i stick with the GTX 1080 the more i’ll be playing games with asynchronous spacewarp.

      • Laurence Nairne

        To be fair I think the RTX 2080 isn’t a huge net gain on the 1080. IIRC, the main bonus at the moment with the new card is the ability for realtime raytracing which most games don’t even use yet.

        Probably better off with a 2080 Ti.

        • Andrew Jakobs

          But it clearly emphasizes the need for much better GPU’s if they cannot even drive the current ‘lowres’ headsets at a steady 90fps with everything on max.. A lot of people here just have way to unrealistic views of the hardware. Pimax still can’t make their headsets run at 90fps, and that’s even with the 5K version. It’s just really unrealistic to assume a 4K/eye headset is even remotely possible at regular consumer prices (people are even bitching about $400, let alone at the moment the at least $1100 for the GPU which wouldn’t even be capable of driving a headset like that).

          • Laurence Nairne

            Oh sure, I’m not arguing that hardware considerations don’t become more important the more pixels you try to pack in. In fact that’s the whole point of this headset (to offset the problem for now) and eventually when they get a moving focal point with eye tracking it will be compelling (of course when GPU hardware catches up somewhat).

            I was simply stating that the new 2080 isn’t really a big jump up from the 1080Ti in terms of it’s abilities, so I wouldn’t expect it to give a significantly better experience than a 1080Ti.

          • Andrew Jakobs

            and that’s the whole problem yeah, the 2080 is only slightly faster than the 1080ti, but some/a lot of people here seem to have an unrealistic view. If the GPU’s aren’t able to drive even the current ‘best’ consumer grade headsets (like the Samsung or the Vive Pro), it just isn’t interesting for any company to create a consumer grade headset with much higher resolution displays, their time is better spend on minimizing SDE (like samsung seem to have done with their latest revision of the Odyssee) and better lenses (so the fidelity of the current displays also gets better).

          • Laurence Nairne

            I’m sure when Nvidia and AMD get their head out of their asses, and actually deliver a card that meets the requirements of tomorrow instead of charging criminal amounts of money for their slight improvements, we’ll have a more compelling experience to write home about.

          • Andrew Jakobs

            I don’t really think the high prices are just bumped up prices like with many Apple hardware. I think it’s just for a great part that it just costs a lot of money to produce the GPU’s because for some reason their yield per wafer isn’t that good. if it was that easy to produce hardware that’s much MUCH faster than what we currently have, I think they would already have released it. But current technology is getting to a limit which makes it harder to go forward in big steps.. It’s not all about getting more money, it’s also about limitations with the current technology to produce new technology.

          • HybridEnergy

            Agreed Andrew, I mostly just read about these headsets out of interest for the future of it. I have a wireless Vive Pro and to be honest my 1080 ti is running stuff mostly on medium and isn’t nowhere near enough, I don’t know what people expected then with the FOV and res of a Pimax….let alone of this Biofocal thing, which make actually neend to render each image 4 times! 2 times each eye to get the bio-focal image. No thanks until I have a 4080 ti RTX from 2028 lol

        • Candy Cab

          So far the 2080 cards are about %30 faster right out of the box than the 10 series cards. The base 8GB 2080 cards are outperforming the 1080Ti by about %12 on average. Probably not worth an upgrade for a lot of current 1080Ti owners but something to think about for others who skipped the 10 series cards and building from scratch.

    • Mikael Korpinen

      Reason for that is that people realize that this actually boosts performance since you only have large amount of pixels for small area. background can be standard vive or vive pro screen

  • What is the FOV?

    • Adam Broadhurst

      Field of view

      • spaceman1980

        They’re asking what it is for the headset

        • theonlyrealconan

          Floaters Only Vitrectomy

          • brandon9271

            Farmers only vasectomy.

    • benz145

      Varjo claims 100 degrees though presumably that’s diagonal. It’s generally the same class as Rift/Vive/PSVR though.

  • Santiago Draco

    First off that is pretty much a bs comparison. I have a vive pro and it’s MUCH clearer than that. With the lens mod (which granted you shouldn’t have to do) it’s even better.

    But hey, it’s only 5-10k for that thing right? Let me get out my wallet….

    • spaceman1980

      I’m the one calling BS.
      That wasn’t for the whole lens, but just for the very Center

    • benz145

      Gotta read before throwing out knee jerk reactions.

      The above through-the-lens photos, captured by Varjo, are an accurate portrayal of the difference in visual fidelity between Vive Pro and Varjo, but only for the center of the field of view (which is what’s shown here). Use the slider to compare. Remember that the Varjo headset fades to a similar resolution as the Vive Pro as you move away from the central field of view.

  • MadFerret9

    Funny seeing more innovation from a company I’ve never heard of than Oculus backed by Facebook’s billions.

    • brandon9271

      Facebook is using the Apple motto.. who needs innovation to make money when you can be a “me too” company with fancy marketing?

    • Andrew Jakobs

      Oh, and you know what facebook has cooked up in their labs.. Also facebook is targetting consumergrade/price hardware.. You cannot compare a company like Varjo who’s actively targetting industry which have cash enough to spend on a headset, to a company who’s targetting consumers who even think $400 is a lot of money for a headset.. You just cannot bring tech like varjo’s using at a price of $400 to the market.. A lot of people here are just blind to everything except their own unrealistic expectation.

      • MadFerret9

        I wasn’t commenting on consumer-grade technology, my comment was about *innovation*.

        • Andrew Jakobs

          But you have no idea what Oculus has been doing in their labs, it’s normal NOT to talk about what you are developing (patent wise etc).

  • nipple_pinchy

    I’m getting one.

  • Arcticu Kitsu

    Damn, I would love to test this out but $5,000-10,000? People are struggling to obtain Rifts & HTC Vives, even though they’re gradually obtaining them. I have an Oculus Rift that I spent a nice chunk making sure my PC could run it that it’s 95% smooth. CPU is the issue now. VR headsets are coming in way too fast with games struggling to keep up that I guess it’s fine for the main industries to take them first before us. People whine about the resolution that I have no issues with it that I’m able to play VRchat & other games just fine. Granted, reading text is what gets me that I guess this is why we need Varjo to enter the market. It does what we seek that I’m hoping it’ll become more affordable with time.

    There’s people who claim that VR is dying a 3DTV death, I just don’t see that. Not with this sort of article posting. VR has been around since the Stereoscope days and before…. All people would do is put VR into hibernation until it’s brought back up again… You can’t kill VR, not even in a technical sense because it’s going to be constantly brought back by someone else.

    Well, I guess I’ll just say I wish Oculus would at the very least braid their god damn cables to match up with the power of their headsets. They tangle that I don’t want to buy cables every so often when they could just braid them…. I damn well hope Varjo’s cables are tangle proof for being $5000-10,000…… Imagine buying Varjo to find your cables tangled……..Oculus, if you’re reading this…. Braid your god damn cables from the headset to the PC plugs part……. Make your god damn cables tangle proof somehow……

    Lastly, if a VRchater saw this article they would go straight for this just to be the next celebrity for their Youtube or Twitch channel. Being a fullbody VRchater is all the rage now that VRchat players shall keep pushing the envelope on what equipment to use and how to play with it……. If any one of them gets their hands on this then the rest will slowly follow behind…. Only the most wealthy of players would play with that though, damn…….

    • Laurence Nairne

      This headset isn’t built for the consumer. It’s too expensive in production and R&D to be priced for the masses. Sure people making money from streaming VR titles might buy it, though I’d struggle to see the cost/benefit analysis coming up positive with tech that doesn’t do anything externally different.

      That being said, I imagine it won’t even be available for the average joe/josephine to buy anyway.

      • Arcticu Kitsu


        Yeah, the article & price states just. It however seems to be available to those that have the cash to spend though, like specific Flight SImulators. It’s probably less to do with the cost/benefit to simply have it out there to flaunt that people enjoy flaunting. Maybe I’m wrong that nobody shall go for the Varjo…. I’m just predicting things with what I’ve seen.

        And as noted people are semi-struggling to buy standard headsets that this is only for the “elite”, as we’re both saying. Yeah. $5,000 to 10,000, yeah. Only the craziest streamers would go for that at first until the price dips with time.

        • Laurence Nairne

          Ah, hadn’t actually done my homework on it’s availability to general consumers – fair enough!

          Re: bragging rights, yeah maybe they will, however stupid that is. After all, “a fool and his money are easily parted”.

        • Andrew Jakobs

          Industry will go for Varjo, as there isn’t a headset publicly available with the capabilities of this headset, and certainly not at that price. These headsets are in no way targeted at consumers, not even in the slightest, I don’t even think they want consumers who have the money to buy their headset, that’s just a massive headache in having to give support.

  • I’ve heard that they also showcased to someone a prototype of the high-res region moving following your eyes

  • brandon9271

    Honestly, I think we’ll see traditional ultra high pixels density displays in the consumer VR space before Varjo ever gets there. It really makes more sense to have the full display be high resolution and use foveated rendering. It’s much less complex than Varjo’s yet to be seen “mechanical” solution.

  • jj

    bifocal mean that anybody that has eye problems is going to have an issue using these :(

    • jj

      so thats a huge chunk of the market just gone right there

  • Karol Gasiński

    Did they mentioned if final headset will have high-resolution panels running at 90Hz? Or will they still run at 60Hz while “background” panels will run at 90Hz? In one of the previous headset dev kits I’ve tested this difference in refresh rate was causing visible tearing, and I don’t think it can be fully mitigated with software.

    If panels refresh at different rate, moment in time between when you see next high res part in the middle and when you see lower res background update will change all the time. This means that compositor needs to constantly reproject image for one pair of the panels. I think it would make sense to let app render at refresh rate of high-res ones, and reproject to match background panels refresh rate. In such case app renders at 60Hz, and has always spot-on image in the center, but background will “snap” to it. Thats because app rendered background at 60Hz, and for moment in time that is not matching moments in time when background panels refresh at 90Hz. Whichever solution is used for this disparity, I don’t think it can fully reduce tearing effect.

    Another thing is fact that now compositor needs to be spawned multiple times per frame, as it needs to process high res frames and background frames at different cadences that are asynchronous to each other. So while app workload can be synchronized with compositor workload for one pair of the panels (comp1), compositor workload for other pair of the panels will happen at random moments in time in relation to app-comp1 pacing. This can be mitigated a little bit with variable dT of prediction/correction for this async compositor workload (by trying to sync it a little bit to app-comp1 pacing), but still won’t be perfect as it’s running at higher rate (assuming app renders at 60Hz and background panels image is reprojected from that to 90Hz). This also requires compute based compositor and ability to preempt application work on GPU. Overall this seems like overkill.

    So refresh rate of high resolution panels matching background panels refresh rate, is the most important issue from my point of view.

    • cataflic

      Refresh doesn’t matters until they don’t show up a hmd with eye tracking sliding focus on the central panel…we are talking of nothing…time is passing by , clock is ticking and no more than one year from now new panels will appear with more than 8k crystal clear definition that is ready to fovetead rendering….bye varjo…I think they must speed up ….

      • Karol Gasiński

        I’m talking here about actual HW limitation to overcome and it’s impact on perceived image. 8K panels are impractical from multiple of reasons, so Varjo approach definitely makes sense (esp. once high-res region will follow eye gaze), and gives much higher resolution than 8K panels anyway.

        • cataflic

          Yep, I agree, but we are talking of speculative design, no real protoype.
          When Varjo appeared I first said that they had a great idea, but what matters in these tech is facts! I know that for real, large fov, high res hmd we must wait for almost 2 generation of gpu….2022 I think, but every year one company came up with a xk display and than we will have a real screen suitable for fovetead rendering.
          Varjo on paper gains 2 years on that solution, but only if they can produce a real hmd…if they don’t know how to do it now and they must have 3 years if development, they can clearly close soon.

          • Karol Gasiński

            No, I’m talking about actual issue of actual design:

            Context display: 1440 x 1600 @ 90Hz
            Varjo Bionic Display: 1920 x 1080 @ 60Hz


            While you’re commenting with your wishlist of stuff that you expect from VR HW, which has nothing to do with this post.

            They described their first device as having fixed high resolution region, and I’m discussing the fact if even this design will be perceptually correct (plausible for the user) if two types of displays have different refresh rate. It would be great of Ben could get statement from Varjo on this one.

          • cataflic

            I’m saying : Varjo in not a company alone in the desert, many people are working on hmd evolution.
            Varjo idea is wonderful, but it depends on when/how they can realize it.
            An hmd now like that can be a disruptive tool now…great tool for 2019 ending, good tool for 2020, normal for 2021,…..

  • 82%ValdeDetta

    We need faster computers!

  • This isn’t a new story, and I still think it’s a gimmick. It’s a tiny, high-rez display hiding inside a normal, low-rez one. Unless your head is facing whatever it is you want to see, the display is still just as fuzzy.

    Of course, the hardware eye tracking is interesting, but I think that is technically unfeasible. There are mirrors that move around super fast, like DLP chips, but they are moving microscopic bits of silicon around. Something as large as a postage stamp would have vastly more inertia. It would be like large ball bearing slamming around on your face.

    The whole thing is a silly, stop-gap measure in lieu of a real high-rez display and FOV rendering. If this was to hit the consumer market, I guarantee you guys would be tearing it a new ***hole for being a gimmicky piece of junk. Thankfully for them, you guys won’t get to buy this, because they are selling it industry idiots who know nothing about real VR and will buy their ridiculous sales pitch about it’s “Retina resolution”. This thing has “Retina resolution” the same way a hybrid car gets “120 miles to the gallon”.

  • Vaan Janne

    Lol. most of the commenters don´t have a clue what they talking about. Varjo is the only company that actually has some innovation with their design to help with the absolute fact gpu´s now and near future can´t really handle high 5k like panels. and actually even that much pixels just isn´t enough when the fov is high also. I´m so looking forward for this tech to be taken into play in big companys and slowly price decreasing to a prosumer level.

  • Patrick McKee

    Here’s the future, but we will never see this, it’s Enterprise (not consumer).

  • domahman

    I’d buy one.

  • Veraxus

    Varifocal lenses with high-pixel density screens and eye-tracked foveated rendering are when the game will really change. My guess: 3 years.