This VR startup is building a headset with 70 times the resolution of Vive and Rift

Former employees from some of the world's largest technology companies have been working in secret on a new head mounted display that is leagues ahead of the competition, at least in terms of resolution. Now they want the whole world to know about it.

The Finnish startup called Varjo emerged from stealth today and is now demonstrating what it claims is the world's first human eye-resolution headset. That translates into 70 megapixels, compared to around 1.2 megapixels per eye for the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

"Designed for professional users and with resolutions more than 70X beyond any currently shipping or announced head-mounted display (including Magic Leap), this major technology advancement enables unprecedented levels of virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality (VR/AR/MR) realism," Varjo said.

As Varjo explains it, the company's patented technology "replicates how the human eye naturally works" by combining a super-high resolution image with "video-see-through (VST) technology for unparalleled AR/MR capabilities."

Varjo said its technology was created by a team of optical scientists and developers who formerly occupied top positions at Microsoft, Nokia, Intel, Nvidia, and Rovio. Having now emerged from stealth, the plan is to implement its technology into shipping products for professionals under its own brand. These will start arriving in late 2017.

In the meantime, Varjo has begun showcasing a prototype codenamed 20/20 (get it?) to journalists and analysts. According to Engadget, Varjo explains the technology consists of a context display, focus display, optical combiner, and gaze tracker all combined into a bionic display for human eye-resolution in VR, AR, and XR.

Varjo says its system isn't real taxing thanks to "foveated eye tracking." While the company is big on buzzwords and short on details, the assumption there is that the 70MP resolution applies to what you see right in front of you, while content in your peripheral vision gets rendered at a lower resolution.

The focus in the early going is on professional use case scenarios. To that end, Varjo posted several sample images comparing its headset to an Oculus Rift, including a Unity VR scene (shown above). That said, anything that improves the VR experience is likely to trickle into the gaming space, provided finalized products live up to the hype (and aren't cost prohibitive). 

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).