Varjo today announced the launch of its VR-1 headset. Priced at $6,000, the headset aims to deliver a huge jump in effective resolution with a novel fixed-foveated display that offers unprecedented retina-resolution fidelity at the center of the field of view.

Varjo’s VR-1 headset uses a novel fixed-foveated display which actually uses two different displays per eye: an ultra high pixel density display covering the central ~20 degrees of the field of view (where your eye naturally sees the sharpest) and a lower pixel density display which fills out the headset’s peripheral view.

A comparison between the pixel density of the Vive Pro (left) and Varjo VR-1 focus display (right) | Image courtesy Varjo

The central display (which Varjo calls the “focus display”) is quoted at 60 pixels per degree, which the company says is 20 times the pixel density available in any other VR headset currently on the market. Indeed, we’ve been very impressed with prototypes of the headset; per our most recent prototype hands-on in December:

The central part of the field of view in the Varjo headset has absolutely no visible screen door effect or aliasing. It feels a bit like using bifocals in the way that you sometimes need to consciously gaze through the center of the lens to see the best detail, but it’s a drastic, almost magical difference from even the highest resolution consumer headsets available today. Lines are perfectly smooth and you can read text at distances that would be rendered entirely illegible on other headsets. Some things, like fine surface textures, are revealed with stunning detail where they would be outright invisible at a more common resolution. Scenes captured with photogrammetry—which already look impressive even on high-end consumer hardware—take on a whole new level of breathtaking detail when seen through the Varjo headset.

The focus display resides in the center of the field of view and blends into the larger “context display” which, with a resolution of 1,440 × 1,600, covers the peripheral field of view with a pixel density that’s similar to contemporary headsets like the Vive Pro.

An exaggerated approximation of how the ultra-sharp focus display fades into the less sharp context display | Photo by Road to VR, based on images courtesy Varjo

Varjo says the VR-1’s full field of view covers 87 degrees. Both the focus display and the context display are OLED, and our understanding is that the focus display operates at 60Hz with the context display at 90Hz.

The VR-1 also includes custom-made eye-tracking which the company claims delivers “unmatched precision and accuracy” in a stereo eye-tracking solution.

Image courtesy Varjo

SteamVR Tracking 2.0 is built into the headset which connects to a host PC with a USB-C link box at the end of 10 meter (32 feet) cable. The weight of the headset, including the new hard strap, is 905 grams.

Varjo says their “industrial-grade” VR-1 headset is available starting today in 34 counties, across North America, Europe, and Hong Kong. The headset is priced at $6,000 in addition to a yearly service license of $1,000. The company is steering clear of the consumer segment, saying that the VR-1 is “designed solely for professionals in industrial design, training and simulation, architecture, engineering and construction.”

Image courtesy Varjo

At launch the company is promising support for 3D software tools and engines, including Unreal Engine, Unity, Autodesk VRED, PREPAR3D, ZeroLight, and VBS Blue IG. An SDK is also available for integration into custom 3D engines.

Varjo plans to launch an AR pass-through add-on for the VR-1 later this year.

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  • Piotrek

    $6000…

    • Jan Ciger

      Don’t forget the mandatory $1000 annual subscription (err, “service”) on top of that.

      I seriously wonder how many they are planning to sell at that price. OK, it is aimed at the professional market but I just don’t see companies being able to justify this when they can have 10 “normal” HMDs for the price of one of these things. Being able to train 10 people vs 1 at once is a huge difference.

      That will easily make or break a deal, whether to invest into this newfangled VR stuff for equipping a training center (you still need to add the cost of computers & bespoke training software) or rather put money into videos and power point decks as the company has always done.

      Sure, the visual quality isn’t the same – but for 90% of the applications HMDs are currently used for it is good enough. Is the Varjo 10x better compared to a Rift or Vive (Pro)? I doubt it. Not to mention the subscription – if companies hate something, it is being milked and dimed on mandatory “service” subscriptions.

      We had an era where an HMD started at $20-40k, without tracking nor any accessories (controllers, etc.) already. And apart from research labs and military nobody used these – VR is useful but not $20k/per training station useful for an average company.

      • jj

        yeah its odd, I’m in a market where I can find use cases for these devices where high end clients would pay for this. Theyd use it for things like in house research and development, or even for a display/event showcase scenario where they only need a few and have the money to spend.

        That being said there surely are not enough of those types of clients for varjo to expect to make ends meet.

      • themobiledivide

        The price point isn’t too bad I was expecting $3000 not $6000 but that $1000 per year licensing fee is a little much. A 3 year bill of $9000 ($10k after tax) is ok but they are definitely not looking for any kind of large enterprise penetration. They raised $50 million so I assume that whatever else they have shown their investors is going to be worth a lot more than a few thousand headsets sold over the next year or two.

      • Ragbone

        In a couple years it’ll come down to £350

      • They can have 10 headsets, but NO one on the market has this resolution. Really, Varjo is one of a kind

      • Baldrickk

        “Sure, the visual quality isn’t the same – but for 90% of the applications HMDs are currently used for it is good enough.”

        Yeah, but they are not targetting that 90% of the market, they want to hit that 10% of applications that are not currently covered.

    • dk

      yeah that was clear ….if they think they can sell it to companies good for them …something I hadn’t noticed until now …900 grams

  • Disandadat

    6000? really. Don’t get me wrong, this is a huge advancement, but prices like this turn people off to vr. Good for technology, but bad for getting the average Joe on board.

    • Who’s that?

      It’s not for the average Joe. It’s quite literally for companies and enterprises for premium design.

      They will *not* sell this to you or anyone else here complaining about the price as that means that you’re not the target demographic, it’s for enterprise only. It’s quite affordable for what it offers.

      • Disandadat

        You’re right. You wait, I bet they have a government contract. The average Joe will love seeing this. I didn’t mean they will buy it (of course not at 6000), I meant these prices will turn them off to vr in general.

        • kontis

          Do industrial/professional monitors costing $30K turn people off to television?

          Far more expensive HMDs exist and are still in use. Compared to them $6K is quite cheap.

          • Disandadat

            I would argue yes. When people see another HMD come out that is 6000, they will say, “See this is out of my range again.” I didn’t say the average Joe is VR savy like you and I. I am merely saying this is another article that shows the mainstream that yet again the vr market is out of their range. Again, I get this is for companies like Boeing (you can stop beating that drum), but people read the first line of most articles and then make their opinion about the subject. It’s the way the world works. Like it or not. It would be a lot better to start out by saying “Look at this cool product and see what it can do” rather than saying “Look at this product that is 6000 bones.” Don’t get me wrong, I like the technology and I think it is a great advancement. It reminds me of the saying, “Winning the battle, but losing the war.” We need a lot more articles saying “VR is getting better and now affordable to you.”

          • MosBen

            The average Joe sees VR when he goes to Best Buy and see the setup for the Rift at $350 and the Go at $200. They don’t read articles about enterprise HMDs on tech enthusiast websites, just as they don’t read about expensive professional/industrial monitors and get turned off to TV. Anyone who is tech savvy enough to find themselves reading about the Varjo HMD is likely sophisticated enough to understand the difference between a consumer product and an enterprise/professional product.

          • BoxBit

            The average Joe sees VR when he goes to Elgiganten and sees the playstation vr, Vive, Vive pro, Oculus Go, For around 300$

          • MosBen

            Ok? I may be ruining a joke by asking for an explanation, but what was your point? (apologies in advance for likely missing something obvious)

          • Bob

            Average Joe and Sally have no idea this thing exists because they obviously don’t waste time lurking around VR tech websites for starters.

            Enterprise customers don’t give a rats arse about cost so long as it works in the way they want it to work and reliably.

            VR is already affordable; it was “officially” affordable three years ago. Where on earth have you been son?

          • Disandadat
          • Mei Ling

            If you were interested enough to find out about Varjo (as others have stated) then I’m pretty sure you would have the common sense to figure out that this product is not for you.

      • Robert1592

        I don’t know. I’m a business man and I’m thinking US$6000 plus $1000 per year, quickly turns into $8000-$12000 per headset. Even business people will pause before spending an average of $10K on a piece of tech. You have wonder if the increased resolution is really worth that much extra cash. Add in the maxed PC you’ll need for it and its a considerable amount of cash that few can justify in their business. I’m sure they sell some, but how many will really go for it?

    • Icarisa

      Well, I was lucky enough to test this on the slush this year and it was amazing. My PC screens I am using for work cost 10k each, so 6k is quite cheap.

  • antonio mora

    I’ll take 2

  • ale bro

    FOV is disappointing, I’ll stick with a Pimax

    • Rosko

      Pimax PPD isn’t much better than an oculus rift. But if fov is all that matters to you & you can ignore the fact that you will most likely have to reduce the fov anyways yeah stick with a pimax.

      • Hivemind9000

        I thought Pimax 8K’s PPD was 20.48 while the Oculus CV1 was 12.9?

        • Mateusz Pawluczuk

          It’s better than Rift, even slightly better than Oddysey+ -> At least if you look at the through the lens eye chart in videos made by Tyrel Wood, SweViver

        • Rosko

          I thought it was 15 slightly less than Samsung O+ and vive pro. Maybe that is wrong.

  • 3872Orcs

    I do understand the use case of this of course, but personally I was overall much more impressed by the specs of StarVR One and the reviews it got. It was cheaper to at $3200. Just too bad the devs hit some roadblocks.

  • MosBen

    Cue the people asserting that if they’d just drop the price from $6,000 to $350 that they’d sell more. Because somehow there’s a group of people who think that product prices are set at random and there’s not cost that needs to be covered.

    • Proof XR Lab

      the cost of this headset is insignificant compared to the commercial costs of the software and payroll for talented staff to build the 3D models that will run on it.

    • Mei Ling

      Welcome to the world of the anonymous self entitled internet “genius”.

    • daveinpublic

      May as well sell it for $100, that many more people will buy it!

      • MosBen

        I mean, what other reason could there be for selling it for so much money other than greed?!

      • Andrew Jakobs

        Except the hardware used is much more expensive than the $100.. Those Oled microdisplays are VERY expensive.

        • Baldrickk

          pretty sure dave was joking…

    • brandon9271

      Personally I think 6000 is a lot of money for what it does.. BUT I strongly support a free market and think that ultimately something’s worth is determined by what people are willing to pay. There’s no mass market for an HMD like this they really have no option except selling a handful of these at a very high price because the market for something like this is super small.

      • Haliff Roslan

        nah for professional use its fair. Engineering software license alone can cost up to 1/3rd of that. Anyway, china will reverse engineer it, skip the extensive research cost, reduce the parts and make it cheap in a year or two.

    • I have interviewed XTAL and talking with the founder I got how is hard for a VR startup like Varjo to survive and how they have to carefully decide the price so that the business plan has sense. These people have no idea what they are talking about.

    • Rowdy123

      Agreed completely. Things like this will be $500 in 2-3 years (or whatever). That is great. Most people don’t get that $6k is a good price for what this is. Same with things like OLED TVs. Last a 65 inch is like $5k – and – this year $4k (etc.). Everyone essentially expects everything for free in this world.

      • MosBen

        Not only that, but the future versions of this tech that reach consumer hands will likely be better than what they’re selling today. Panels will get better, so the exterior lower resolution screen may be clearer, etc. Iterating on a product will reveal things that they can improve, while also finding ways to reduce the cost. Plus, it’s my understanding that a lot of the cost going into this thing is custom software and support that is needed now, but probably won’t be included in a consumer version, making it easier to bring costs down.

  • daveinpublic

    It’s amazing how difficult it seem to build these things. It’s essentially just two screen in one headset. Originally, they were planning on using motorized mirror that could follow your eye movements and allow you to see high res throughout. But in the end, it’s just a high res screen fixed in the middle of another screen. I’m sure it’s difficult to do this, but it just shows the difference between what sounds feasible and what’s actually doable.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      they are still working on the motorized version, but that one just isn’t ready yet.

    • Graham J ⭐️

      I dunno, a partially silvered piece of glass at an angle in front of the panel and a microdisplay reflected by it seems straightforward enough, but maybe there’s more to it.

      I’ve said all along that a motorized setup is not going to work and I consider this product confirmation of that. At least for now.

  • Tesla

    1 kg brick on head with low resolution screens (for 2019). From the deepest place in my heart I wish them bankruptcy. What a senseless product. Also, clever company would work on curved VR headset, not like with smartphone screen installed. I am looking forward to Samsung Curved VR headset. This one here is a total joke!

    • Bryan Ischo

      Mr. “if it isn’t exactly what I want, then it’s crap!” Tesla, your technology myopia is showing.

  • towblerone

    lol

  • sfmike

    The question is even at $6000 a pop will they be able to make a financial go of it. I doubt it. They will probably be filing for bankruptcy next year if not sooner.

  • wcalderini

    I may be stupid but I wonder what kind of hoops your graphics card has to jump through to sync up the different resfresh rates of the panels in each eye? (Basically 4 different monitors). Seems like that would be a huge performance hit. Maybe that’s why it’s only 85 degrees FOV. Or is just One panel per resolution spread out over both eyes? (Like Smartphone VR).

    • Karol Gasiński

      Left and right panel are synced as image is probably sent through cable as single side by side one, and split in FW on the HMD. So from GPU point of view its single display at 90Hz, and second one at 60Hz (thats why there are two DP cables going out of their link box according to articles). If compositor runs at 90Hz, most of the time it reprojects for both panels, but with different target time.

      • wcalderini

        Yeah. That makes sense. Just was not up to the mental gymnastics today, I guess. Thanks.

  • JesuSaveSouls

    I think we should all buy two each since the deal of only 6k dollars is hard to pass up.

    • jj

      just pray for it

  • Data Soul

    I’m so sick of seeing announcements for industry tech, but the same tired bs for regular consumers.

    • MosBen

      I don’t feel like the Quest or Cosmos is same, tired, or bs. and we’re not far removed from Pimax shipping an HMD which offers some real improvements over the first generation of devices (with some drawbacks of its own). I mean, the option to avoid announcements of industry-focused gear would be to wait for the bigger announcements to trickle into the general news sites, but for right now, at least, this is the news in VR enthusiast circles. And if nothing else, hardware in enterprise devices probably makes its way into consumer devices in a few years, so just consider this a preview!

      • Tesla

        Cosmos and Quest are outdated technology, narrow fov and very very average resolution as for 2019+. A total bs, especially these are for the future starting in 2019. In 2014 Samsung announced flexible displays via ad. 5 years later they are with curved vr headset showing 180 FOV. This is serious, really serious. I would understand if Facebook would buy flexible displays from Samsung and work on dev edition till now. Then now would announced that curved display vr. That would be amazing.
        https://www.patentlymobile.com/2019/01/samsung-invents-next-gen-gear-vr-headset-that-provides-a-curved-display-for-a-more-natural-field-of-view-and-more.html

        this is the future.

        • jj

          How high are you right now?

        • MosBen

          Yes, that’s all that they are, narrow FOV and average resolution…except that the Quest is self-contained and the Cosmos can purportedly be run by either a phone or a PC. Being portable (or optionally portable) systems is a pretty huge feature and also the primary reason why the FOV and resolution aren’t bigger/higher. Oculus seems to release one product per year, which makes sense. This year is all about the Quest, which will make VR accessible and affordable in a way that it never has been before. Next year will either be a refresh of the Go or the Rift, with the following year seeing a refresh of the other. In both cases there will likely be some solid, but incremental, improvements.

          Even top of the line graphics cards currently struggle with pushing extremely wide FOV at high resolutions. When the Rift and Vive launched they were expensive on their own, but also needed a $1,000+ PC to run them. I’m really confident that outside of some enthusiast brands this just won’t happen again.

  • cataflic

    Stupid question: the superdisplay is locked in the center view, isn’t it?
    They’re playing well with words, foveated, eye tracking….but the eye tracking doesn’t produce any variation in the panel that remains stucked with is peripheral normal/in the center super resolution…the super resolution area doesn’t follow the eye!

    • MosBen

      Yeah, from my read that is correct, the high resolution screen is located in the center of the FOV and doesn’t move. The lower resolution screen which fills out the rest of the FOV works if you need to glance over, but it seems primarily intended for peripheral vision, with the user turning their head to look at things instead of their eyes.

      • benz145

        That’s correct.

      • cataflic

        ..yep…not so comfortable!
        I already told this…Varjo had a great idea, but 4k screens are behind the corner….eye tracking…

  • Jaggo

    Based on all of the comments I’m seeing here of people complaining about the price, I’m thinking they missed this part:

    “The company is steering clear of the consumer segment, saying that the
    VR-1 is “designed solely for professionals in industrial design,
    training and simulation, architecture, engineering and construction.”

    This is not a consumer product for gamers and regular users. You’re not going to get this to play Beat Saber and VRChat. This is for companies and designers, hence the $1,000 per year licensing fee. This is the sort of money AAA Developers and Publishers spend to use certain game engines and the programs to make them.

    • beestee

      I don’t think the yearly licensing is what you think it is.

      I think the “service license” most likely covers integration with the mentioned 3d software tools and engines as most of those get updated on a monthly basis. Keeping up support for even this small selection of tools will be no small feat.

      You should be able to continue using the hardware after you let the service license lapse, but you would no longer be guaranteed support updates to go along with the latest versions of your 3d tools.

    • dk

      yes only professionals in industrial design can play beat saber on it :P

  • brubble

    A fantastic new outing for high rez display tech…aaaand thats about it.

  • Brian

    It’s amazing how many VR “enthusiasts” are complete morons and have no idea what’s going on in the industry. Sure, all VR headsets are for gaming and every GPU is also for gaming…. Yes, when a surgeon is watching and studying a procedure with a VR headset, they would much rather save $6000 and use a rift with its crisp SDE instead of this headset.

    The companies that will purchase this headset are in trillion dollar industries. They generate tens of billions of dollars a year in revenue alone. A few hundred $7000 headsets are pocket change.

  • Tesla

    I’m waiting only for this:
    https://www.patentlymobile.com/2019/01/samsung-invents-next-gen-gear-vr-headset-that-provides-a-curved-display-for-a-more-natural-field-of-view-and-more.html

    nothing else counts. high resolution, 180 FOV lightweight AR and VR at once device.

    • Bryan Ischo

      The curved display is such an obvious improvement over flat displays; lenses will be so much easier to get ‘right’ at all focal directions for wide FOV headsets than they are with flat panels.

      Of course, patenting this obvious idea is a dick move, but that’s what our broken patent system requires these days …

  • oompah

    Wow wonderful
    is all I can say
    However if this can be implemented in optical waveguide
    it’d be ultimate
    & they have rightly used it with USB-C which
    is so lightweight & easy to use.

  • JesuSaveSouls

    I want to apologize for the bad comments and complaints.Actually the innovative technology is great for the vr industry and it will only pave the path for competitors and consumers to acquire such new tech.Please leave it up or repost.I would of couse pay the money if I had it and thats great its for pros.

  • JesuSaveSouls

    Any reviews good or bad is still promoting the product and bringing buzz for it.I have heard terrible things and reiews about certain movies and games that turned out to be timeless classics.Like fifth element the movie and et the atari game,lol.

  • Mikenseer

    Fixed Foveated display makes this headset a moot point as a gaming rig. Try playing a VR game with this thing and you’ll need a neck brace afterwards. This HMD will be bloody perfect for looking at architectural designs and details, but any use-case that involves speedy spatial awareness and head movement will be a hard pass. Incredible display tech though.