Volvo & Varjo Launch the World-First Application to Drive With Mixed Reality Headset on the Real Road
Volvo Cars and Varjo, the Finnish maker of high-end augmented reality headsets, have created a world-first mixed-reality approach to evaluating prototypes, designs, and active safety technologies.
Volvo Cars and Varjo have made it possible for the first time to drive a real car while wearing a mixed-reality headset, seamlessly adding virtual elements or complete features that seem real to both the driver and the car’s sensors, for development purposes.
The Varjo XR-1 headset, provides photorealistic mixed or virtual reality at a high-definition resolution better than anything currently available. As such, the XR-1 can radically reduce development timeframes by creating the new ability to evaluate features and designs almost immediately.
Compared to its predecessor, the XR-1 adds high-definition cameras to the headset and enables mixed reality. This allows Volvo Cars designers and engineers to ‘drive’ future cars and evaluate all features in a simulation environment many years before they exist, enabling the company to develop the safest cars with the most refined user experience possible.
“With this mixed reality approach, we can start evaluating designs and technologies while they are literally still on the drawing board,” said Henrik Green, chief technology officer at Volvo Cars. “Instead of the usual static way of evaluating new products and ideas, we can test concepts on the road immediately. This approach offers considerable potential cost savings by identifying priorities and clearing bottlenecks much earlier in the design and development process.”
“From the very beginning, our vision has been to create a product that can seamlessly merge the real and the virtual together,” said Niko Eiden, founder, and CEO of Varjo. “The incredibly advanced ways in which Volvo Cars uses the XR-1 show that Varjo’s technology enables things that have been previously impossible. Together with Volvo, we have started a new era in professional mixed reality.”
The use of mixed reality enables Volvo Cars to iterate design and UX concepts quickly and avoid tedious tool and software changes, saving significant money along the way. “We’ll be able to do things in a day that would normally take weeks or longer,” Casper Wickman says.
When it comes to the design evaluation process, it’s crucial to be able to see the outer shape and proportions of the car, but also the fit and finish between the components, the graining of the leather, and more.