Varjo is aiming to create a metaverse in which enterprise teams use its headsets to collaborate
➨ Varjo Reality Cloud will enable virtual teleportation from one ‘reality’ to another
➨ The solution is five years in the making and will first be available to existing Varjo customers and partners in the company’s Alpha Access programme starting later this year
➨ To boost the solution, Varjo acquired Dimension10, a Norwegian software company focused on industrial 3D collaboration
Varjo is joining the metaverse business with a new cloud solution that the Finland-headquartered virtual and mixed reality technology company promises will usher in a new era in universal collaboration.
Varjo Reality Cloud will enable virtual teleportation from one ‘reality’ to another, by allowing anybody to 3D scan their surroundings using a Varjo XR-3 headset and transport another person to the same location.
The solution is five years in the making and will first be available to existing Varjo customers and partners in the company’s Alpha Access programme starting later this year.
Timo Toikkanen, chief executive officer of Varjo, says: “We believe that Varjo’s vision for the metaverse will elevate humanity during the next decade more than any other technology in the world.”
“What we’re building with our vision for the Varjo Reality Cloud will release our physical reality from the laws of physics. The programmable world that once existed only behind our screens can now merge with our surrounding reality—forever changing the choreography of everyday life.”
Five years in the making
Varjo has been building and perfecting the foundational technologies needed to bring its Varjo Reality Cloud solution to market for the past five years.
These include the human-eye resolution, low-latency video pass-through, integrated eye tracking and LiDAR capabilities of the company’s mixed reality headset, XR-3, which launched earlier this year.
Combined, these technologies “empower users to enjoy the scale and flexibility of virtual computing in the cloud without compromising performance or quality”, according to Varjo.
A final piece of this metaverse-enabling solution for Varjo is its proprietary foveated transport algorithm, which enables users to stream the real-time human-eye resolution, wide-field-of-view 3D video feed in single megabytes per second to any device.
“This ability to share, collaborate in and edit one’s environment with other people makes human connection more real and efficient than ever before, eliminating the restrictions of time and place completely,” Varjo explains.
Another is Varjo’s just-announced acquisition of Dimension10, a Norwegian software company focused on industrial 3D collaboration.
Dimension10’s virtual meeting suite is designed for architecture, engineering and construction teams and will become a critical component to making virtual collaboration possible within Varjo Reality Cloud.
This is one more sign that the Nordics is where much of the most innovative work in immersive technology is being carried out. Financial details were not disclosed.
To further boost its new solution, Varjo has added Lincoln Wallen to the company’s board of directors.
Wallen currently serves as chief technology officer at Improbable, is a recognised scholar in computing and AI, and brings to Varjo his extensive knowledge of large scale cloud computing, and moving digital content production into the cloud.
Previously, Wallen has worked as chief technology officer of Dreamworks, where he transitioned global movie production to the cloud, including the development of a cloud-native toolset for asset management, rendering, lighting, and animation.
The result is a solution that Varjo believes will usher in its own vision for what a ‘metaverse’ can be.
The video below shows the solution in action. Varjo says this is a simplification to show how the world can be captured and streamed in real time as a 3D representation.
It provides an external viewpoint video of real-time capture from a Varjo XR-3 headset, showing how Varjo Reality Cloud sees the world around the user. The world is typically experienced inside the space on an immersive headset such as Varjo VR-3.
In the beginning of the video, the user scans the room and then stops to watch Urho Konttori, chief technology officer and founder of Varjo, being present. While Konttori is speaking, you see the naturalness of the movement, captured with just a Varjo XR-3 headset in the room.
The camera is able to move freely as it’s all in 3D and not a flat video. Konttori is able to sit down naturally, take objects from the world, and open them up. As a visitor in this experience, with headset on, you can move during the stream freely in the room and see things as if you are there.
In this second video, Varjo teleports Konttori to its headquarters in Helsinki in mixed reality. The user wearing the headset sees the teleported Konttori mixed into the physical space. Later, the teleported surroundings are mixed with the physical space.
You can also see Varjo’s hand occlusion technology in action. Those interacting with the teleported reality can feel absolute immersion as they see their own hands and can interact with the virtual content.
Varjo’s ambition for a metaverse in which enterprise teams use its headsets to collaborate is not unlike Microsoft’s, which will enable users to join holographic worlds as projections. This suggests a near-term future of multiple metaverses, each tailored for a specific use case but ultimately accessible by all.
The key is the hardware. While Varjo Reality Cloud will initially rely on the foundational proprietary technologies of its creator, the company is planning to open it up to multiple devices, as Microsoft intends to do with Microsoft Mesh. This will be compatible with a variety of devices and modalities, including HoloLens, virtual reality headsets and mobile devices.
Going a slightly different way is Immersive VR Education, which just announced the development of Engage Oasis, an always-on, fully persistent ‘corporate metaverse’ where users can meet and sell products and services directly to each other.
Immersive VR Education is a software company and its Engage events and communications solution is compatible with multiple devices and modalities, including virtual reality headsets and mobile devices.
There are more examples of emerging, potentially cross-compatible metaverses based on the hardware, such as XRSPACE Manova World, where businesses, professionals, students and others will be invited to transact, work and learn in some form of virtual or mixed reality.
It’s too soon to tell which meataverse will prove the most successful or popular, but the way the foundations are being laid suggests that, as ever, it will depend on the users and how they take to and make them their own.