Match XR 2021 | Urho Konttori | Varjo – next in line

Match XR 2021 | Urho Konttori | Varjo – next in line

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[Music] So, as said I'm the co-founder and currently the CTO, it's my fourth role in the company, so quite a big journey. I'll talk today a little bit about where  Varjo is now. So the company presentation, products, and of course our latest product Aero, a bit of highlighting on that one, as well as then talk a little bit of what we're doing next. Especially in the realm of Varjo's reality cloud, again something that Jussi Havu have also eluded in his  previous presentation, the ability to render in the cloud as opposed to on the headset, enabling you to have almost infinite compute and a lot of other benefits as well. And then a little bit  on the future of virtual teleportation as well,   so that should be interesting.

But good, let's kick it off now with the things now happening at Varjo. So Varjo's now roughly 170 people, I don't actually know the number anymore, accurately. We are hiring actively, so do check out our job positions.

We would more than welcome engineers and other for example business people, both from Nordics and across the globe. I think we have people from almost  20 nationalities these days working at Varjo so we're very multi-national - so even if you  wouldn't be a Finnish resident, you would be more than feeling at home in there. We have over 23 b2b value-added partners selling our b2b headsets globally, and we have now of course also opened  some b2c channels also with retail partners. We have well over 1000 customer companies and this ranges from a few headsets to a few hundred headsets per company, so the scale is quite nicely happening, and especially the Aero has actually already now scaled quite a lot of new smaller customers into the customer base. Here's a bit of show of the type of companies we have, so typically Fortune 500 alike companies in the training and simulations domain, medical and research and design and engineering. And I don't think much of this one is news, but it's a good repetition in any case.

So let's focus a little bit on the Aero, which is made both  for leading edge VR users without prior Varjo experience, as well as for current Varjo users, mainly in b2b domain, obviously, who are ready for mass adoption of VR. So this is a product that we're using also to scale in many of our existing customer-based companies as it comes with two benefits for scaling: one, lower cost, secondly a lower pc requirement, so making it much easier for you to actually get those pieces that you use to run these beautiful beautiful headsets. I don't want to take this into a sales pitch for the Varjo, just setting a bit of context to you. One of the definite benefits of the Varjo Aero is that it became, now, the second headset on the market to be approved by the European Aviation Safety Agency for real pilot training.

So you basically get credits from flying with it similarly to us flying on a bigger dome simulator or flying the actual plane. This is the very first venture into VR training  in the civilian aviation side. And again like, I was surprised by this, that it happened  now, I was expecting a couple of more years. It happened for the VR3 in the summer and  almost instantly now in the autumn for the Aero, because of the similarities. So both VR3 and the Aero are approved for VRM's simulation system by the European Aviation Safety Agency.

So it gives you like a glimpse of the kind of quality level that also, for example as applied enthusiasts, you have now accessed the same grade of technology as the professionals have been doing in the past. So you get very similar experience as you do in a full dome simulator. So then on the target specs for the hardware. So you can see that compared to the VR3 and the XR3, Aero is actually functioning on a mid-range GPUs, and I was just really pleasantly surprised to see that a VR flight sim guy for example was doing a test of HP Reverb G2 performance - so how much it actually taxes the GPU - how good a frame rate you get with that one in Microsoft flight simulator, as opposed to running the same thing on the Aero. And he was raving about that you actually get something like 20 to 30 percent higher frame rates on the Aero, while getting that much higher quality simultaneously.

Again a pretty magnificent thing - and this is really like a good testimony into the scaling capabilities of the Aero. So mid-range GPU/CPU configuration is fine with the Aero, so you can run it on a laptop, you can run it on a mid-range desktop PC, or a backpack PC for example from HP. And again similarly the VR3 and XR3 are demanding  more, so you should be expecting to basically shelve out a high-end GPU of either 20 series  or 30 series, to use on that one. On the range overall just reminding VR3 is the world's utmost highest quality VR headset on the market with human eye resolution displays, eye and hand  tracking, available for 3395 plus 795 annually.

XR3 comes with, obviously, the same eye and hand  tracking, but then also with the mixed reality, including LiDAR and the same human eye resolution displays. Available at 5995 to all companies, and then for 1495 annually. And then the Aero, which is available to all for 1995, comes with the eye tracking, superbly lightweight, ultra bright mini led displays, that are twice the brightness of the VR3 and the XR3 and I dare to say pretty much any other headset on the market as well. It's one of the things that you actually  should experience.

So we should have an Aero headset at the event, so please go and check it out. Just seeing that brightness and that beautiful image quality is something that I don't want to show on a slide now, you should experience it first and there and Kimi can certainly also help on that one also later on. Then I have on this image one small  adder on the list of new things, which is our latest laptop adapter, making it super easy to connect a Varjo Aero headset directly to a laptop, where the only thing that  you need additionally is then the power supply unit that gives some additional power to the Aero.

Much simpler integration, especially when you're going to a customer, like a click-click, done. Good! Then continuing on the now: Varjo Teleport VR software and service suite is available since roughly a week ago, and it comes for free to anybody owning XR3 or VR3 and that includes support for three concurrent users and then you can purchase bigger sales volumes as well. It supports also any other SteamVR compatible headset including the Oculus headsets that are connected to the PC. Good either with a cable or without a cable, obviously. So what the Varjo Teleport VR does, is that it enables you to meet, share, and collaborate virtually with a larger group, a very similar type of thing that we for example saw on the Glue side.

Except that the focus of this software is really mainly on certain use cases, and at the moment it's the best in the BIM sector, so in a construction domain, and in there  doing design reviews and actionating on those. And we are now expanding the compatibility from  beyond that sector into other ranges of design, improving the experience and the user flow tremendously. So I would say that this is the perfect solution at the moment, if you're doing any kind of bigger activities in both designing and working with a customer in the  architecture, engineering, and construction side. But then if you're on the other ventures of design  you would definitely want to check it out, see how it works right now into our workflow and let us know how we should be improving on that one. And we have plenty of more material,  if you're interested, on our website. And with this, I'm moving to  next things happening at Varjo.  

So, as a context, I obviously cannot talk much about  what kind of hardware we are actually developing in the future. So I'm giving a bit of framing in the beginning instead and one of these, that I also spoke about at the previous event  at the Helsinki XR Center, is that the 6DOF headset volume is surpassing hundred million during 2025. So we are at the breaking point that VR and mixed reality is actually becoming a mainstream thing. That kind of volume does mean real mainstream use. Simultaneously and partially driving that is  the change in the form factor of the headsets, towards eyeglass form factors, that you see for  example here as the backdrop.

It's the HTC's Flow headset, that truly I think looks spectacular and feels really good on the head, and it's showing the road to the future. Again, I cannot show what we are doing, but I can certainly show that this is what HTC is doing and many other companies as well. And it's predominantly driven by a new  type of optics called 'pancake lenses', which are folded optics that make it possible  to squeeze the size of the headset tremendously. I do think that these kinds of things are necessary  to drive the wider adoption as well, and again like really pleasantly happy to see HTC doing  their forerunner position in this domain once again.

You could argue that that Facebook  is doing something similar in this domain and I expect many companies to be releasing products that have similarity to what HTC is showing here. And obviously as Varjo we are following the trends in the market as well. Then finally I'd maybe raise the point that  operating system and chipset game is starting, because of the exact same thing. So adoption curve towards mass market forces you to think, what's going to be your longer term position  when it comes to operating systems and chipsets.

And I dare say that Facebook will have a very moderate likelihood that they would be doing play on this one, before they roll out into their next magnitude of device volume. You don't want to do that too late, as then you're  then you're being asked to your partners, as well as to your customers so I would assume  that will be happening within the next two years. Then for your reality cloud, that we see as instrumental in, especially, the b2b setting on devices like those. So lightweight devices that you can wear comfortably, that you can give to your customer easily, that nobody should be afraid to wear on their heads, does mean that you start to have limitations on  the amount of compute you can have there. So for that one we have been since last summer  talking about Varjo's reality cloud and I'll shed a bit of light into that one again today.

First of all you basically get instant access to infinite compute on the cloud, both for the GPU, CPU and RAM scaling. You can essentially decide that I want to now run in 100 CPU cores with four high-end GPUs driving the graphics, and with the terabyte of RAM available to me, and the cloud will just configure itself for you. You will pay more - but you will be able to have real-time ray tracings and things like that on as you need, and pay only what you need, when you need it. Then you can be running on much lower-grade cloud hardware, when you're actually setting up the things and exploring. And I dare say that with with solutions like this  you will ultimately pay much less than you would if you would be purchasing a PC of equivalent capability. Typically people also don't use the VR headsets eight hours a day so it gives you the opportunity to save most of the part of the day's CPU GPU compute.

Good! Then of course turn-key is a super important part in here, especially in the b2b setting. So by enabling so that you configure  your experiences once in the cloud and say then that okay anybody connecting here will get this  exact same experience and you can guarantee it. It does enable you to have a click to scale both  from the perspective of within your organization, but also externally.

You can offer reliable services that once configured ones are really turn-key and and they will just work. This is one of the things that we have been getting from our alpha partners, that they feel for example in the automotive design domain, that this allows them to much more easily  take the decision-makers into the loop, because all they need to do is that they send a  link to their email. So just put the headset on, click on the link and you will be able to see the latest thing, look at it and tell me your opinion on the one two three type of thing.

Again, no hassle, and also no need to move to a VR lab perhaps in a totally different building or anything like that. It scales both for the headset sales, and then for the use cases for these companies. Then hardware independence is of course a natural evolution of the cloud rendering. So once you're rendering the cloud in a sense  it's just a video stream going to the headset. Obviously it's not, but it makes it really easy to deploy to pretty much any PC VR or Android VR headset super easily.

Accessed through laptops, tablets, phones or anything like that. And here of course one of the key things is  to guarantee the ultra low data rates so that you don't need gigabit connections to the devices and  ruin the the network conditions at your company. And then of course latency is required so that you  can enable normal WLAN use there.

So, as said, I cannot prematurely show you things so here instead of showing the current customer cases of the Varjo reality cloud with our alpha customers, here is a demonstration from, I think,  beginning of this year together with Autodesk on a very similar type of setup system  in a garage. Again showing the different types of devices in use, heterogeneous compute for the clients and then cloud compute for the actual visuals joining both mixed reality side here locally - so the camera feed is staying on the tablets or on the XR3 connected PC and then only the virtual things are calculated on the cloud. Good, but the alphas are ongoing. The response is incredibly positive and we are really solving exactly the key problems that we have been striking out to solve with the Varjo reality cloud.

So we're super happy on that one. Moving to a wider range of companies now gradually once we are more confident that things are nicely in place. You could call it beta - I don't think that we will actually call it beta it's just a continuation of the alphas, but it's a progression, and we're simultaneously securing the global server infrastructure, and preparing for this to actually become a product. When? Well no comments on that one, but you get the gist that we typically run the alphas for a few months and then plan for the actual roll out.

So, no commitments, but sooner rather than later as a product to the market. We do also feel that this is the first actual  scale of all cloud rendering solution product that comes with really all the enablers  to turn it into a turn-key solution. Good, then talking a bit on the Varjo Teleport. So the teleportation beyond the Varjo Teleport VR and our grander vision of it. So fully immersive live  presence on the other side of the globe. Traveling without moving. Reducing the business travel needs.

Enabling both perception of the place and the people and the machines or anything which is happening in there real time the same way as if you were there yourself, with of course caveat on the time zone, so you cannot shortcut that one. It's simultaneously hindrance and opportunity, so sometimes you might need to actually like work at awkward hours to do a teleport session, at least you can do it from home as needed. And then of course teleportation does enable the  opportunity to save sessions. Save how it felt to actually be there and you can then replay it to your colleagues at a later point and they get a very similar experience. And again like experience  being the one of the key points here, that when you use true teleportation, that for example we are developing, it feels that you're experiencing that other side and not just looking at it through a small window on your monitor screen.

We also see opportunities in selectively teleporting parts of the real world into VR collaboration systems like Glue or the Varjo Teleport VR - so you could say that when we are  doing our planning, keep this physical machine  - which is there in China - keep it all the time visible to us in this collaboration session and maybe we do something with it simultaneously. Then of course scanning places also in a static manner is super useful for collaboration purposes. And and certainly whenever you decide to do something static versus dynamic you can achieve even higher level of fidelity, and this is one of the areas that we're like very interestingly looking at right now. But really for the teleportation to make sense you need  to have a video call like latency, you cannot pass the boundaries of light speed, but you can stay as close to that one as possible. And when you actually do a teleportation you can actually  pay a bit of premium to the network operators in your path, to guarantee that lower latency than even video call can actually be achieved, which is interesting.

So the kind of use cases that we're now thinking, why I'm highlighting these, is that I'm ultra interested in any new ideas that either fit into these domains or fit outside of them. So opening the minds. So first of all obviously meeting in the hybrid world is different than it used to be both during COVID when everything was only done through Teams and Zooms, and the past when the meetings were done mainly face-to-face.

Now some of the people will be outside of the room and some really still want to get that humane connection, so how to actually make those happen in the hybrid world is one of our like key connection points. Then ability to go survey for example your factories, your partner's locations, your suppliers locations, your own offices in the other part of the world,  keep connected to your colleagues in there and so forth. It's a really wide domain overall, and again a significant amount of world business travel is focused on actually doing exactly this. So if you can do it virtually or through means of teleportation, it's a game-changer. Also a lot of ecological points of view onto that. Remote assistance review partially related to  these but like focused on actually solving real world issues as fast as possible, and then  training and learning which again you can do differently, when you can get people to be  on the, for example in this case, the airbus assembly facility - where you couldn't take a  classroom of people to be sitting or standing behind these people at the factory line for  hours and hours on end.

But you could do it live. Keep it interactive, get people to also ask questions. Or do it pre-recorded again which is an extension that I feel to be part of the teleport VR or teleport functionalities, where you can kind of teleport also beyond time as well. Experiencing the things after the fact. And with that I hope I stayed roughly on time so I thank you and you can contact me at Twitter at my @konttori alias and then if you have more use cases for Teleport, do contact me on my email I'm very open to to both  short and longer discussions on topics,  as well as as looking at early alpha  opportunities as we're now at the stage that we are able to actually test the  things already end to end. We're not at alpha yet but gradually  planning to do that as well.

So, thank you! [Music]

2022-01-15 11:57

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