- Yes, you heard right, precision and high resolution comes at a cost and right now the bill is almost $6,000 USD.
- Not built for the average consumer, how the enterprise is taking center stage on AR Technologies
- In this new world of precision, companies are seeing value even when such tech comes with a high price tag.
A human-eye resolution headset
One of the major drawbacks of current VR hardware is the poor resolution that is displayed on the HMD. This might not be so bad if we are talking about newer hardware from Companies like Microsoft, HTC, and others but it has not reached the level where we can say definitively that it’s perfect.
But then comes in Varjo, a Finnish company, with a headset that blows all this out of the waters by giving us an HDM using their Varjo’s Bionic Display™, which delivers an unprecedented resolution of 60 pixels per degree, the equivalent of 20/20 vision.
They are calling it, the VR-1, not very imaginative but this device is nothing to joke about. To understand how much of an impact this is, we must first consider that when in VR reading various texts and focusing too closely on any individual aspect usually breaks the immersion because you get blurring and artifacting.
This is no longer the case as there would be no difference with reading text in VR and reading it in the real world.
A price tag to match the specs
This is a big deal if you work in a market segment where details and precision are the keys to success. From architects, engineers, designers and more, all can benefit from this technology. By now you would notice that we have not spoken about the general consumer or the use of this technology to the general public.
This is because of two main reasons. First is the fact that this device comes with a very hefty price tag of almost $6,000 USD. Not what the average consumer has laying around in their back pockets and not something even enthusiast of AR tech would be willing to cough out so much money for.
We have gotten used to the downward price scaling of technology in recent here where better technology and manufacturing processes make mass-production cheaper and more affordable but this doesn’t apply to new technology as early adopters usually pay a premium for the privilege to be the forerunners in the field.
Some might argue why it’s so pricey but the technology that has gone into developing the Bionic Display is one that has gone through rigorous R&D and this cost is borne by the end-user.
Built for the Enterprise
Yet the cost of development and the corresponding price tags is not the main reason that we are not seeing this product as a consumer-oriented gear. Its simply wasn’t built as such.
Varjo intended this product for the Enterprise space just as with Microsoft new Hololens 2. “This is something that was done with the professionals, for the professionals, it’s not a consumer product retrofit for the professional market.” Varjo CMO Jussi Mäkinen told Wired.
With integration to industry-specific engines such as Unreal, Unity, Autodesk VRED, and Prepar3D, you can experience and evaluate prototypes in immense detail, just as you would if the device or design existed in physical space, plus you can design and train in a completely realistic VR environment.
In the enterprise world, your VR headset isn’t for games or social experiences; it’s for work. So a company’s feature wishlist is a bit different. You don’t need it to be completely untethered, because you’ll be sitting at your workstation.
Instead, you want it to work with your professional design or rendering software of choice, whether that’s Autodesk VRed, Unreal, Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3D, or any of a half-dozen others. You also probably want it to have eye-tracking, especially if you’re using the headset for training and simulation.
Tracking and Industrial Possibilities
In addition to the high-resolution output of this device, Varjo has gone one step further by adding custom made stereo eye-tracking to the VR-1 system. Its’ engineers and optical design team developed this by using images reflected onto the eye and tracking them algorithmically.
The 20/20 Eye Tracker™ allows access to valuable data which can be used in research, industrial design, training, and more. For example, flight simulators that require the user to read out details from the highly complicated dashboard and make adjustments accordingly become far more practical and usable with AR tech.
This might be the reason why companies like Boeing are already working with Varjo. Then we can move further down the list to the automotive design industry where one can design concept car and have it rendered in such high res that inspection becomes just as immersive as reality.
The industrial promise of AR has always been that it could transform how work is done, allowing for faster iteration, bringing people together to collaborate, helping workers accrue experience in new ways and now having the confidence to pursue precision and accuracy in their design such that the rendered work has no distinguishable features from reality.
At the end of the day, the question we should be asking is if the price is worth it.
Can a $6,000 AR headgear add value to the enterprise space? The simple answer is a resounding “Yes”. If we can train at 50% faster pilots and engineers plus create designs that are cutting edge with the aid of such a tool, then it more than earns the price tag attached.
It is definitely not for the average Joe but it never was meant to be.