XR-3 is Built for High-quality Mixed Reality, Now With Inside-out Tracking

Image courtesy Varjo

While Varjo’s VR-3 headset is purely aimed at VR use-cases and implements SteamVR Tracking, the XR-3 is specially designed for mixed reality applications and uses new inside-out tracking tech that the company says it has developed in-house.

Varjo has loaded the XR-3 with high-quality pass-through cameras and sensors that allow the headset to expose the world outside of the headset to high-quality, wide-field of view augmentation with full opacity control (something transparent AR headsets can’t do).

Image courtesy Varjo

While you arguably call Oculus Quest an MR headset thanks to its passthrough capabilities, the world you see through the headset is grainy and black and white. With XR-3, Varjo has gone to great lengths to make the headset’s passthrough fidelity match its incredible resolution.

As a cheeky (but effective) demo, the company shows how a user wearing XR-3 is able to easily thread a needle—something you’d have an awfully hard time doing with Oculus Quest.

Beyond the high-quality pass-through cameras, XR-3 also includes a LiDAR scanner for depth detection, which allows for more accurate augmented reality and convincing occlusion of virtual objects by the real world. The company says it’s fusing both the LiDAR and RGB pass-through camera to achieve a depth-map that’s accurate out to 5 meters.

Image courtesy Varjo

Varjo Calls Prosumer Space “interesting”, But Remains Focused on Enterprise

Varjo’s VR-3 uses SteamVR Tracking and supports SteamVR content, but mostly as a matter of practicality rather than consumer interest | Image courtesy Varjo

Given that Varjo’s high-end enterprise headsets have the kind of features and performance that everyone in the VR space would love to see in consumer-focused products, the executives at the company have become accustomed to me asking if they’re thinking about the consumer space.

The answer is still pretty much “no.” For the most part the company is laser-focused on making the best professional headsets on the market. But as prices continue to decrease, this time Varjo’s execs told me they find the ‘prosumer’ market “interesting.”

Modern VR headsets haven’t really been around long enough for ‘consumer’ and ‘prosumer’ price segments to solidify, but personally I tend to think of ‘consumer’ headsets being in the sub-$1,000 range, while ‘prosumer’ headsets would fall in the $1,000–$2,000 range.

Varjo’s VR-3—which uses SteamVR Tracking and already natively supports SteamVR content—is still well outside of even the prosumer range at $3,200 (plus 800 annually), but it’s starting to get within striking distance. Interesting indeed.

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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."
  • TechPassion

    Good and bad. Good that some company does this and corporations will be happy to use it. The expense for corporations is not significant. Bad is only the price, for grunts like we here :)

    • James Cobalt

      If they could get the price down to $2k and cut out that mandatory subscription, I think they’d have a chance in the prosumer/developer/artist markets.

      • This is the Lamborghini/McLaren of XR – why would they be interested in “a chance” at being a Volvo, or even a BMW? I for one think it’s great that they’re pushing the high end without too much regard to cost constraints.

        • James Cobalt

          Wasn’t implying they need to cripple the product to reach a wider market. Luxury tech consumer brands like Tesla and Apple are able to offer product ranges that can accommodate the middle class as well as enterprise and the 1%ers. You can get a Mac Mini for $700 or a Mac Pro for $30,000; but everything in the line benefits from a shared platform. The thread that ties Varjo’s products together is the retina overlay.

  • wheeler

    Is this the “extremely cool” VR HMD that you recently tweeted about?

    • 3872Orcs

      Here’s the tweet for anyone curious: https://twitter.com/benz145/status/1328836977710440448

      Saw some extremely cool VR hardware that I can’t talk about yet (sorry), but in the back of my mind it’s software/content that’s still holding things back the most. Feels like the days of pre-iPhone smartphones; they knew *something* was there, but the apps were pretty terrible.

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    • Bob

      There are rumors flying around that next year something big will be revealed for the VR industry but I’m not entirely sure Ben is alluding to this one.

      • wheeler

        Do you have any more details on this rumors?

      • James Cobalt

        Samsung said they were going to release multiple XR products this year, and their design patents linked for some interesting looking HMDs, but nothing came of it. Maybe next year they’ll hit us with curved OLED HMDs…

    • benz145

      Yes indeed.

      • Sven Viking

        Will you be posting full impressions at some point?

        • benz145

          As soon as I’m able : )

  • psuedonymous

    Mobile foveated region tech is still MIA. Not a surprise given lack of a demo system or a viable design for a compact active optic, but all emotion of the concept seems to have been scrubbed from their website too.

  • Banjo-K

    Un aggeggio del genere farebbe comodo a Sony come PSVR2, ma a prezzi popolari però, s’intende!

  • Ratm

    Nice, finally a halo update. Two sides remaining and we are there.