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Latest Photorealistic XR-1 Headset from Varjo Enhances AR with Additional Reality

Varjo Technologies Oy, a Finland-based hardware maker recently made an announcement regarding the release of XR-1 Developer Edition, a high-fidelity augmented reality (AR) headset. This latest release was announced by Varjo during the Santa Clara Augmented World Expo. It closely follows the February launch of the VR-1, a feature-rich $6,000 virtual reality headset by the company. With the new release, the capabilities of this device extend to mixed reality, blending the lines between the virtual and real world.

Urho Konttori, the Chief Product Officer and co-founder of Varjo, explained that XR-1 enables users to observe their own selves in addition to the world around them. They will even be able to look at their co-workers during the process of developing virtual settings and items.

Konttori has claimed that the XR-1 is the only headset in the world that gives a photorealistic quality image output. It does so with the aid of a type of integrated eye tracking usually known as ‘Hard AR.’ Equipped with this capability, the device is able to create outputs that make differentiating augmented reality objects and real-life ones quite challenging for its wearers.

The XR-1 stands apart from the technology used by the Microsoft HoloLens, that produces transparent images over real-life elements for the device’s wearers.

The XR-1 contains key hardware elements that help it deliver the photorealistic output it does. These are the high-resolution, plate-type display of the VR-1, and two front-facing 12-megapixel cameras. The cameras are using for real-life environment digitisation, and they also project a wide-angle rendered view of the captured virtual environment. High-fidelity CGI elements are then projected to the virtual world, appearing indistinguishable from real-world elements.

The new technology makes virtual objects seem as authentic as real-life ones. In addition, objects will have their own shadows and adjust to the ambient light available. Viewers can expect black objects to be vividly black, and solid objects will be opaque just like their real-life counterparts. Any transparent objects will refract light from objects behind them.

The XR-1 device is capable of producing life-like fidelity similar to what can be created through video-pass-through. Devices like HoloLens, running on optical-see-through technology are unable to offer realistic mixed reality outputs. – Urho Konttori

Vehicle maker Volvo Group has partnered with Varjo in the past, to utilise the company’s technology for gaining a better understanding and optimising the design process of cars. Owing to the hardware available to Volvo, its engineers are able to conduct test runs for potential car designs. Based on what Varjo has revealed, XR-1 prototypes have been used by Volvo Cars since 2018.

Volvo engineers wear XR-1 headsets to drive real cars. It enables them to include virtual elements whilst running test drives. Objects they can add include dashboard items or new parts for the vehicles.

Users interested in the XR-1 can find detailed information on the Varjo website, and can even compare its feature-set to the VR-1. It might retail at a price close to the $6,000 mark.

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