Varjo emerges from stealth with awesome new VR/AR display


It takes a lot of effort to create a solid virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), or mixed reality (MR) experience. The hardware, including the headset and system hosting the experiences, have to be capable of delivering a natural, smooth experience.

See also: Ultrahaptics finds deep pockets for its AR/VR tech

The Varjo team, which has been operating in stealth mode until now, believes that its 20|20 display will change the game in this emerging space.

This new generation of headsets is taking off in a big way. Brands like Sony, HTC, Microsoft, and Oculus are putting a lot of effort into creating immersive virtual/augmented/mixed reality experiences. While these products are certainly a giant leap forward from the “VR” headsets of yesteryear, the visual experience provided by these products isn’t quite good enough to trick the eye.

Beats current VR/AR resolutions

Products such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are offering users a 1.2 megapixel (per eye) VR experience with an up to 110-degree field of view. For over a year, this has been the cutting edge of VR/AR headset displays. Even the PlayStation VR, a headset designed specifically for gaming, is limited to a 1080p resolution.

Meta II, a headset currently available for preorders at $ 949 USD, has an exceptional 2.5k resolution of 2550×1440.

In the augmented reality space, we have options like Microsoft’s Hololens, which has a significantly lower field of view (around 32 degrees). The effective resolution for the Hololens is around 1 megapixel.

“Varjo’s patented display innovation pushes VR technology 10 years ahead of the current state-of-the-art, where people can experience unprecedented resolution of VR and AR content limited only by the perception of the human eye itself,” said Urho Konttori, CEO and founder of Varjo Technologies. “This technology, along with Varjo VST, jump-starts the immersive computing age overnight – VR is no longer a curiosity, but now can be a professional tool for all industries.”

Varjo’s solution up close

San+FranciscoWith Varjo 20|20, the company believes it has found a way to create a VR/AR display with an effective resolution of 70 megapixels. That’s a pretty stunning claim.

This is huge leap in effective resolution is made possible by some technological magic that takes advantage of the way the human eye perceives visual input. By creating a super-high resolution image to the user’s gaze direction, it’s able to increase the effective resolution of the display.

This isn’t just for virtual reality, either. Video-see-through (VST) technology enables the display to be used in AR/MR, as well.

The technology behind Varjo’s prototype was developed by a team of optical scientists, creatives and developers who formerly occupied top positions at Microsoft, Nokia, Intel, Nvidia and Rovio.

Varjo’s new technology will be shipping in Varjo-branded products specifically for professional users and applications starting in late Q4, 2017.

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How Zappar promotes brands with awesome AR technology

Choosing a brand name concept. 3D illustration of a compass with needle pointing the word brand. Blue and black tones.

Brands are starting to realize the power of using AR to promote and provide content — AR is totally different from traditional marketing in that it is more creative and arguably more interesting. Because not all companies have sufficient time or resources to recruit a crew focusing on AR marketing, start-ups that combine AR technology and marketing are growing more popular. Zappar, a London-based start-up founded in 2011, is one such start-up.

Zappar’s mission is quite clear — it wants to provide exciting and affordable AR products through smart devices that everyone, from big companies to regular people, can use to promote and popularize their brands.

See also: How AR will impact the real estate market

In June 2016, Zappar presented ZapWorks, a development tool that just works like Photoshop. By subscribing to this tool, people can learn to polish, edit or even build AR marketing products by themselves, thus creating AR marketing campaigns that meet their needs. Zappar hopes by launching ZapWorks, they can implement fresh solutions in marketing and promotion, and finally, achieve the goal of connecting AR technology and physical products.

A lot of influential brands are buying in

Although it has only been operating for six years, Zappar has partnered with many influential brands and companies around the world, like Universal Pictures, Time Warner, Coca-Cola and SONY.

Last year, Zappar partnered with Rovio, the maker of Angry Birds, to promote its new game: Angry Birds Action! Zappar developed zapcodes, which essentially act like QR codes; people can recognize zapcodes via smartphones. Zappar released one billion customized zapcodes offline on different Rovio physical products — all people had to do to unlock the Rovio’s new AR gaming world, which included exclusive power-ups, augmented reality mini-games, and a photo-features function was download the new game on their phones and scan the zapcodes. 

And who is Zapper’s competition?

At SXSW in March, Zappar launched its new product, ZapBox, a combination of AR and VR products. ZapBox retailed for only $ 30, reflecting Zappar’s commitment to offering affordable AR products to everyone.

According to VB Profiles’ AR Authoring & Publishing market section, there are 12 companies focusing on this field. One of them is Blippar, a company that is also based in London and that has raised $ 99 million to date, including $ 45 million from its A-round financing in March 2015 and $ 54 million from its B-round financing in March 2016. Considering that the total funding of this market is only $ 110 million, Blippar is one of the largest companies in AR.

Like Zappar, Blippar is helping brands promote products and provide content via AR technology, and last year, it launched its own AR development tool that allows customers to build AR marketing products themselves. But unlike Zappar, Blippar focuses more on picture-recognition and information collecting. 

At the moment, Blippar is the biggest company in the AR Authoring & Publishing market, but Zappar’s affordable products may give Blippar some serious competition. Zappar’s positive results from its A-round of funding, in which it raised $ 3.5 million, spells out a bright future for the company. 

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