Home Virtual Reality Games Varjo combo hands-on: XR-3, Actuality Cloud, and a tiny little bit of...

Varjo combo hands-on: XR-3, Actuality Cloud, and a tiny little bit of Galea!


At AWE 2022, I’ve been in a position to attempt a number of merchandise by Varjo, the Finnish firm that gives XR options largely tailor-made to the enterprise market. Let me let you know one thing about all of them!

Varjo XR-3

Varjo XR-3 is taken into account the gold normal for pass-through augmented actuality. Priced at round $6000, it ought to present a improbable expertise each in AR and VR, because of its high-resolution shows and passthrough cameras.

I’ve been in a position to attempt the XR-3 for a couple of minutes each at Varjo and Ultraleap’s cubicles.


Varjo bets quite a bit on the standard of the merchandise that it builds. XR-3 isn’t an exception: it’s crafted very properly, and it seems stable. The design can also be polished, with the entrance plate being very cool because of the studied digicam positions and the reflective end.

varjo xr-3
Varjo XR-3 headset (Picture by Varjo)


The decision and the pixel density of the gadget (over 70 ppd) are excessive, and with this headset, you overlook in regards to the display door impact and comparable artifacts of VR. The colours of the show had been additionally fairly shiny, and so typically the digital components I may see each in AR and VR felt very alive. The FOV can also be bigger than the standard: not big, however massive sufficient that you simply don’t really feel like wanting small binoculars. While you put on this gadget, you may really feel that you’re attempting a premium headset with high-end options.

BUT, there’s a big “however”: the distortions. Like many different headsets with a bigger FOV, Varjo XR-3 has noticeable distortions on the periphery of your imaginative and prescient. The central a part of what you see is completely high quality, however while you transfer your head, you may spot that one thing is “transferring” and distorting in your peripheral view, and that is fairly distracting. I bear in mind having the same problem with the Varjo VR-2, so I feel that Varjo has nonetheless to discover a option to repair the problems with its lenses. The excellent news is that normally these issues will be corrected (or a minimum of improved) through a software program replace.

Passthrough augmented actuality

Passthrough is the principle function of this headset, which because of its 12-megapixels RGB entrance cameras attain a stage of realism no different gadget can problem. And I’ve to agree with Varjo that the passthrough is cool, the very best I’ve ever tried on all XR headsets till now: the decision of the cameras and the show makes certain that the ultimate result’s a high-quality passthrough imaginative and prescient.

However even on this top-quality headset, the passthrough isn’t excellent: to start with the colours of the world that you simply see via the cameras look a bit washed out, a bit “sadder” than in actuality. Then there’s a slight noise, so that you understand that you’re nonetheless wanting via some type of digicam. And while you rotate your head quick, there’s a little bit of blurring of the picture. Due to all of this, you may understand the distinction between the intense digital components, and the colder real-world visuals while you use passthrough AR.

So, wonderful passthrough, you may even sort textual content in your telephone with it on, however it’s nonetheless not like the true factor.

Augmented Virtuality

In the course of the demo of the Actuality Cloud, I used to be utilizing no controllers, however I interacted with the system simply utilizing my arms. And it was cool that I may see my actual arms (in passthrough AR) on high of the digital expertise. Even higher, the system calculated the depth of my arms, in contrast it to the depth of the digital objects, and determined which components of my arms to indicate relying on in the event that they had been occluded by a digital aspect or not. Since I had an actual aspect on high of digital ones, this can be a clear instance of augmented virtuality.

It’s one of many first occasions I experiment with AV, and I’ve to say that it’s fairly cool: seeing your actual arms and never only a digital illustration of them provides you a greater notion of your physique in VR. However on the similar time, it requires the system to make a reasonably difficult effort. I suppose it has to calculate the depth of the arms through some type of depth estimation algorithm, and the result’s that the segmentation of the arms is a bit “blocky”. Which means you normally don’t see an ideal cut-out of your actual arms, however you see some jagged strains round them. Additionally while you transfer them near a digital object, and you progress them up and all the way down to make them seem and disappear, you see that the arms get occluded and proven all the time as a mixture of huge jagged blocks, that are in all probability a illustration of the decision of the depth estimation algorithm. Anyway, I attempted AV solely along with the cloud rendering, so I don’t know if a part of the artifacts had been as a result of distant streaming.


I may see the efficiency of the eye-tracking only for a number of seconds after I’ve put the headset on in the course of the Actuality Cloud demo. It appeared to comply with my eyes accurately, however the time was too tiny to precise an actual opinion on it.

Fingers monitoring

Fingers monitoring on Varjo XR-3 is supplied through Ultraleap (sensor v2) monitoring, which is at the moment the very best within the trade (you may learn my full overview about it right here). It labored very properly: my arms had been tracked no matter was their pose in all my visual view, and even past.

Efficiency of Ultraleap monitoring with the most recent sensor and runtime


The XR-3 was snug to put on… a minimum of for the couple of minutes I wore it on my head. It presents varied becoming choices to just be sure you can discover the proper match to your head, and this is excellent from an ergonomics standpoint. On the damaging aspect, I’ve discovered it to be a bit heavy.

My largest downside with the XR-3 is that after I’ve tried an AR demo with it, once I take away the headset, my eyes really feel instantly lots of pressure as in the event that they must get used to actuality once more and wish a little bit of time to get better. I don’t know whether it is due to the distortions (however I don’t assume so, as a result of I had not this downside with the VR-2), or as a result of the passthrough feels virtually actual so my eyes think about it as the true factor, however it has fastened focus and so the vergence-accommodation downside causes my eyes to get a bit dizzy after they can have the variable focus of actuality once more. I spoke about this with Varjo, they usually had been fairly shocked by my suggestions however will attempt to examine.

Closing impressions

varjo ultraleap
Me attempting the Varjo XR-3 headset on the Ultraleap sales space

Varjo XR-3 has an excellent status within the trade and for a motive: it’s a high-quality gadget with the very best passthrough out there. However as with all XR gadgets obtainable these days, it doesn’t come with out issues, with the lens distortions and the attention fatigue being essentially the most annoying for me. Total I feel it’s a superb headset, although.

Varjo Actuality Cloud

Varjo Actuality Cloud is the cloud rendering service supplied by Varjo for its headsets, and it will possibly work each with AR and VR experiences.

How does it work

I suppose you’re already accustomed to cloud rendering: it’s that resolution that makes you render your digital content material of an XR expertise on the cloud so that you simply devour much less computational sources regionally. Varjo has determined to supply this service for a easy motive: its excessive headsets, like XR-3, require a really highly effective laptop to work reliably (a minimum of an RTX 3080 somebody advised me), however not all individuals have them. If many individuals in an organization wish to attempt some XR expertise, perhaps as a result of all of them should overview some XR prototype of an object to fabricate, equipping all of them with costly computer systems is probably not your best option to take for the corporate. With Varjo Actuality Cloud, everybody can connect an XR-3 headset to a laptop computer even with mid or low-mid specs and use it easily. The concept is to “democratize” the usage of Varjo headsets.

For all of you who like technical particulars, I’ve been advised that Varjo Actuality Cloud runs on high of AWS, with the brand new G5 servers which have onboard twin A10 NVIDIA GPUs. There are numerous server areas, each in Europe and US, and Varjo is working to increase this community as a result of you already know that the nearer the rendering server, the smaller the latency of the streamed rendering. All of the streaming resolution is proprietary by Varjo and it’s not based mostly on NVIDIA CloudXR. It’s now supporting solely Varjo headsets, however they’re planning help additionally for {hardware} of different distributors.

Fingers-on impressions

The demo I used to be proven was about seeing an exquisite luxurious automotive in entrance of me in augmented actuality. I suppose the aim was to remind me that I’m too poor to purchase each the Varjo XR-3 and the posh automotive.

varjo xr-3 augmented reality
This was the automotive I used to be seeing in augmented actuality through cloud rendering (Picture by Varjo)

Varjo’s worker advised me that the automotive was an unoptimized mannequin coming instantly from Autodesk VRed, so it was not a VR-ready mannequin in any respect, it was a mannequin designed for offline renderings. I may see a VRed window with the automotive modeled inside within the distant desktop session with the rendering server on AWS. I’ve been additionally advised that the demo with the automotive was a collaborative one, with as much as 5 individuals having the ability to join inside the identical digital room and focus on the automotive collectively, however I’ve tried this demo alone.

Once I put the headset on, I noticed the automotive in entrance of me. It was lovely and there have been no indicators at all the distant rendering. I couldn’t see streaming artifacts, the automotive seemed like rendered regionally, and it was spectacular. I used to be requested to take a look at the performances tab on the laptop computer that was working the demo: the RTX3080-powered laptop computer was simply utilizing 20% of its GPU to energy the XR-3 headset and present that heavy automotive. This confirmed me that the server was taking all of the heavy lifting of the rendering.

The demo setup: a show to indicate the content material working on the cloud and a laptop computer powering the headset

Relating to the lag, unluckily I can’t specific a dependable opinion. The Wi-Fi community of the resort was not the very best ever (I can verify this), and this added some seen latency to the streaming. This meant that once I was transferring across the room, I may see the automotive barely wobbling and never being static. The wobbling was not big, however was noticeable…. the automotive was lagging behind the actions of my head. I had no nausea, although, as a result of the passthrough was nonetheless processed regionally to ensure essentially the most snug expertise for the consumer (so the passthrough had zero lag). I can’t so specific an entire opinion on the general expertise, as a result of I want to take a look at it in excellent community circumstances. For now, I can say that even with a not excellent Wi-Fi, the cloud rendering was nonetheless working and offering good visuals and a good lag.

Closing impressions

I’m a giant fan of cloud rendering, and the one supplied by Varjo appeared to work properly in my view. I’m simply questioning whether it is actually wanted: if somebody has $6000 to spend for a headset, he/she must also have $2500 to spend on a high-end laptop computer… 😛

OpenBCI Galea

openbci galea bci
(Picture by OpenBCI)

Varjo has lately partnered with OpenBCI for Galea, a headset stuffed with sensors that helps in understanding the mind standing of the consumer. Priced at $22,500 it ought to supply the very best BCI performances at the moment obtainable in the marketplace. Learn extra about it in my devoted publish.

A tragic story

I like BCI and so I desperately tried the whole lot to have the ability to have a take a look at with Galea: I requested Varjo PR for a demo, I stalked OpenBCI PRs for 10 days, I kneeled in entrance of OpenBCI individuals on the AWE present flooring (actually), and I even entered within the Varjo demo room when not approved. I lied, cheated, and stole, however with no outcomes. OpenBCI didn’t let me have a demo of it.

What I bought of it

I haven’t gone away from AWE with utterly empty arms, anyway.

To start with, I’ve talked with some those that have had a fast demo of the gadget, they usually confirmed to me that the gadget truly works. It could possibly learn information from many sensors and present them on the show of the pc in a devoted viewer.

Then, I’ve been in a position to see a Galea prototype myself: I bought OpenBCI CEO sporting it whereas he was strolling across the AWE Playground space, and requested to take a look at it. It was precisely like within the footage, with sensors on the face and across the head. I additionally tried to put on it and I seen that it was not very snug. OpenBCI says that it has invented a brand new materials for the EEG sensors that make them very snug, however I kindly disagree with their opinion. Perhaps they’re used to sleeping in a mattress made from nails, and so for them, the headset is snug… however for me, it was not. The tiny plastic spikes of the EEG sensors which have to the touch the cranium, all collectively really feel like many tiny nails that contact your head. I can’t say it was a really nice sensation. It’s fairly widespread with EEG sensors, although (NextMind gave me comparable sensations, for example), so I don’t blame OpenBCI individuals for this downside. What shocked me as a substitute was the dimensions of the EEG sensors, that are fairly little, smaller than the opposite ones I’ve tried till now.

Varjo Folks

My technical overview is over, however I wish to end this text by speaking about my expertise with individuals at Varjo, which have all been very form and obtainable. I wish to particularly make a shoutout to 2 of them.

johnathan varjo
Me and Johnathan, assembly after so a few years… and I had once more a beard and lengthy hair… kind of 😛

The primary one is Johnathan Sutherlin, who works in cloud companies at Varjo. He was the “Varjo worker” that made me attempt the demo of the Varjo Actuality Cloud. He kindly greeted me, after which stated one thing about us figuring out one another. I had no concept what he was speaking about, so I did the very first thing I do in these circumstances: I checked out his badge and browse his identify. Once I learn it, I had a vastly emotional second. Johnathan has been like the primary individual interviewing me: he was a part of an organization referred to as Quad7Computers, they usually fell in love with the full-body VR resolution we had been constructing at Immotionar. It was one thing like 2015… I nonetheless had an extended beard and hair. They had been so captivated with it that I bear in mind Johnathan spamming on Twitter all the businesses going to E3 to inform them that they had to make use of our full-body resolution as a result of it was the very best! He was really a fan! and I had an interview with him and his companions, and it was lots of enjoyable… it was actually like the primary of my life or one thing like that.

Moving Rob Lowe GIF by Parks and Recreation - Find & Share on GIPHY

Seeing him, I felt as if all that occurred in these lengthy years in VR was passing in entrance of my eyes: we met that we had been so captivated with VR, determined and poor… and after so a few years… we’re nonetheless passionate, determined and poor, however now he’s a minimum of at an vital firm like Varjo. It was a really emotional second seeing him in individual for the primary time in my life, I virtually wished to cry, then I remembered that I’m a person and that crying isn’t allowed by our contract and so averted doing that. But it surely was like seeing an previous buddy after a few years, and I used to be so glad to see him being a part of such a superb workforce just like the one at Varjo. I’m pleased with him and the profession he has had. He was superb at demoing to me the Actuality Cloud (even when I had an absurd look with pink hair), answering my questions, and listening to my suggestions. I want from the underside of my coronary heart that he can preserve doing his nice profession in XR.

tony pink hair varjo
Spot the variations

My reference to pink hair brings me to the second individual I wish to point out right here, that’s Ida-Emilia Kaukonen. She’s kinda new within the Varjo PR workforce and was tasked to handle the connection with me and different press individuals on behalf of Varjo. Poor her, she didn’t know I’m gradual in answering on no matter channel I’m contacted on as a result of I’m all the time too busy. She tried in any method in organizing a demo for me with Varjo Actuality Cloud, however with me answering as soon as each three days and with e-mails composed of most 7 letters, it was getting exhausting. However being a sort and decided individual, she booked the final obtainable slot for attempting the cloud together with her identify in order that she had not needed to anticipate a solution from me and “pressured” me to come back. I imply, it was a demo at 8.30 am, a time that may be very Finnish however not a lot Italian, contemplating that for us the day begins at noon… however a minimum of I had a demo, and if I’m writing this text right now is due to her dedication.

Issues grew to become enjoyable once I arrived on the demo room and earlier than coming into she advised me once more that the demo was booked at her identify, so she was there simply in case there have been issues. Being an fool, I urged that if the demo was at her identify, I ought to develop into her. So we bought an concept: I bought her badge and a few of her pink hair and entered the room as Tony-Ida, with Varjo individuals fairly confused about what was occurring. Sure, I had all of the demos with pink hair on my head. Sure, nobody was in a position to take me severely in that room. Sure, at one level, one Varjo man checked out my badge and bought confused for a second if I used to be Tony or Ida. I took this as a praise.

When the demo ended, we each needed to go to the present flooring, so we made the stroll collectively, and it was fairly humorous seeing the shocked reactions of those that noticed at first her, after which me with the pink hair…

pink hair
The pink brothers strolling across the AWE venue (Image by Amber Drolma)

… my buddies had been screaming “Tony, good hair!”, or “You’re lovely!” and issues like that. We should always have filmed this and made a candid digicam. Arrived on the present flooring, I made a decision we re-took our unique identities earlier than she may develop into Tony and began complaining in regards to the high quality of pasta and pizza within the US. However they’ve been enjoyable loopy minutes

Anyway, a lot of because of her for a way she managed to get me a demo with the Actuality Cloud, for having additionally tried to assist me in getting the demo with Galea, and particularly for having helped me with the name-change joke! Probably the greatest PR ever.

And with this remaining enjoyable second, I invite you all to share this publish along with your friends on social media channels to make me a bit happier! And don’t overlook to remark saying how a lot you want me with pink hair…

Disclaimer: this weblog accommodates commercial and affiliate hyperlinks to maintain itself. Should you click on on an affiliate hyperlink, I will be very glad as a result of I am going to earn a small fee in your buy. You could find my boring full disclosure right here.


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