Finnish startup beats human eye resolution for AR/VR

July 07, 2017 // By Julien Happich
Founded about 10 months ago with the backing of Lifeline Ventures, Tamares and the Finnish Innovation Fund, Helsinki-based startup Varjo Technologies Oy promises a 70x resolution improvement over currently shipping VR/AR and mixed reality solutions.

Varjo's 20|20 prototype headset.

The company has built-up an augmented reality headset prototype codenamed “20|20” (as for perfect eye-sight) which it claims delivers an astounding 70 million pixels of effective resolution over a 100º field of view. This is to be compared with today's Oculus Rift clocking at 1.2Mpixels over the same field of view. Coming out of stealth last June, Varjo (meaning “shadow” in Finnish) issued a somewhat enigmatic press release mentioning patented technology that replicates how the human eye naturally works by creating a super-high-resolution image matching the users' gaze direction.

Contacting Varjo's founder and CEO Urho Konttori to learn more about the company and its technical prowess, eeNews Europe asked if this vast improvement in resolution (beyond the reach of today's state-of-the-art displays) relied on some form of foveated rendering.

Implemented in virtual reality and gaming to lower the computational workload, foveated rendering relies on an eye tracker to only display detailed graphics where the user gazes, while graphics are displayed in a lower resolution outside the zone gazed by the fovea. Varjo does that in a different way. It merges the images of two full HD micro-displays through a specially designed optical combiner. One image serves as the background image of the full scene displayed across the full field of view (which would be what today's VR headsets merely do), while the other display only delivers a narrow field of view of the full scene, but at full resolution, right where the user gazes. Adding up these narrow high resolution spots across the full 100º field of view gets you to Varjo's claim of a 70-fold improvement in effective viewing resolution.

"At any given time, you have the high resolution where you are looking, but we don't have to render the full scene at 70M pixels, so we can run the graphics on a laptop and we are not limited by data bandwidth either", explained Konttori.

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