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This Finnish startup's new VR headset rivals Apple's Vision Pro - and business users will love it

Varjo's mixed-reality XR-4 delivers a 120-degree field of view, dual 20-megapixel cameras, two 4K displays, and gaze-driven autofocus.
Written by Artie Beaty, Contributing Writer
Varjo
Varjo

When Apple launched its Vision Pro earlier this year, it joined a crowded virtual reality headset market that includes entries from Meta, PlaystationHTC, and more.

That market got a little more crowded this week as Varjo, a Finnish company, launched its XR-4 headset. And while it may be similar to the other headsets on the market, there's one big difference. 

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The new VR headset, which carries a price tag of $3,990, functions much like models from Apple and Meta. It has a 120-degree field of view, dual 20-megapixel cameras, two 4K displays, and a gaze-driven XR autofocus system -- all specs that rival the Vision Pro.

But Varjo's device is aimed squarely at businesses instead of consumers. And with dozens of Fortune 100 companies using VR in myriad ways -- from training astronauts and pilots to reconfiguring production processes to advancing medical research -- there are plenty of applications to be found.

While most VR headsets highlight 2D uses with some mixed reality, the XR-4 focuses on mixed reality.

In addition to the base version, there's a "Focal Edition" that features significantly improved passthrough (and a significantly higher price at $9,900) and a "Secure Edition" that offers what Varjo describes as "government-grade compliance" and "pilot-grade visual fidelity." (No price is listed for this version, only a message to "Contact us for pricing.")

The Secure Edition is perhaps the most intriguing, as it's designed to work with high-end training software like VBS Blue IG from Bohemia, Prepar3D from Lockheed Martin, Unity's Unreal Engine, OpenXR 1.0, and FlightSafety Vital. In August, the company was selected to provide head-mounted displays for the US Army's Reconfigurable Virtual Collective Trainer Air Program, a portable program used for pilot training in various helicopters.

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Some of the applications Varjo has in mind appear to lean toward military pilots and flight training. (The company does describe the headset as enabling "highly effective and cost-efficient training scenarios.") However, considering the high level of mixed reality this headset delivers, it's easy to see how it could be used in other environments where security is paramount -- say, for creating a map of a building's interior that can be interacted with or even weapons training. 

And unlike other headsets, the biggest difference is that the Secure version Edition of the XR-4 doesn't require online connectivity.

Since the XR-4 is intended for business, and the highest version is intended for secure government applications, there's a pretty slim chance that most consumers will ever get their hands on one. But, the fact that a headset like this is hitting the market is important, in that it shows where VR for the average consumer could ultimately go and it showcases the capability of VR far beyond entertainment. 

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