Varjo is releasing two successors to its VR-1 “bionic” VR headset.
Varjo headsets’ unique feature is that they have angular resolution claimed as equivalent to the human eyes in the center of the image. There are two displays for each eye in a Varjo headset. There’s a larger peripheral display and a smaller foveal display directed toward the middle through an optical combiner. All Varjo headset so far have a field of view of 87 degrees.
A major improvement in the VR-2 series over the previous model is the addition of a prism diffuser film to the peripheral display, made by 3M. Varjo tells us this eliminates the screen door effect. This should make the entire image look more natural, albeit with the center significantly more detailed than the peripheral.
Per pixel calibration for the peripheral display is now also used, meaning improved image consistency and reduced “mura” effect.
VR-2 and VR-2 Pro are almost identical, however the Pro includes Ultraleap (formerly Leap Motion) finger tracking built in, a twice as long (10 metre) cable, and a counterweight to improve ergonomics. Many of Varjo’s customers were adding Leap Motion already, so the option to have it integrated represents an added convenience for some.
All Varjo headsets are also getting SteamVR support. This should allow customers to use software which doesn’t support the Varjo SDK. SteamVR, however, treats the headset as a regular uniform resolution headset, so SteamVR apps can’t take advantage of the headset’s unique foveal display system. This means that Varjo SDK apps will still display the best quality in the headset.
The Varjo runtime is also getting positional timewarp support. Positional timewarp should allow intensive apps like CAD with ray tracing to maintain 90Hz when the framerate would normally drop. For more details on this, see our article about VR reprojection technologies.
In an ideal VR headset you’d see the highest resolution wherever you point your eyes. Varjo says, however, it hasn’t yet reached its ultimate goal of a headset with a dynamic foveal area. The company told us this is due to the difficulty in building a VR headset with constantly moving parts that won’t break down over time. They are researching the feature though.
Varjo VR-2 and VR-2 Pro are now available for purchase for 4995€ and 5995€ respectively. You’ll need to be a business to place an order, and, to be clear, these headsets aren’t designed for playing Beat Saber.