June 26, 2020 – Varjo has announced the release of a new version of its headset companion software Varjo Base. The new 2.4 software release includes new features and improvements requested by Varjo’s customers in training, design, and research domains, according to the company. The new improvements allow professional users to:
- Create advanced mixed reality experiences with real-time shadows and lights;
- Manipulate pass-through video with real-time effects such as color grading, noise and blur;
- Smoothen the movement of virtual objects in an application;
- Use Chroma Keying with the graphical UI built into Varjo Base;
- Override the origin and anchor of virtual content to a needed spot;
- Use Varjo Markers with Unity projects.
The new features are broken down in detail below:
Reality Reflection API for Mixed Reality
With Reality Reflection API, users of Varjo’s XR-1 headset can now capture real surroundings and insert them into mixed reality scenarios that produce real-time shadows and reflections. The environment scan can be saved to provide static lighting effects, or used continuously to provide real-time reflections and shadows. The video below shows an example, with two virtual spheres.
Real-time Video Shader (Beta)
Released as an experimental feature, Real-time Video Shader enables users to manipulate pass-through video with real-time effects such as color grading, noise and blur. Used in combination with Chroma Keying, users can achieve full-body presence without extra development time. Example applications include:
- Training & Simulation: Simulate night-time flying in mixed reality independently of real-world lighting conditions or the simulation software used;
- Design & Research: Simulate different real-world lighting methods such as LED, Fluorescent, and Halogen.
Varjo Base can now smooth out the movement of virtual objects that may be moving erratically in an application by predicting their motion.
Enables users to run multiple applications at the same time while a Varjo headset displays a single view. Applications running simultaneously can be made with different 3D engines or image generators. Multi-App Support allows developers to use a specific IG to render terrain whilst using Unity for rendering a cockpit, hand-tracking, mission selection, etc. It also allows for the use of a specific application to bring 3D objects with Varjo Markers on top of another virtual scene or ready-made SteamVR applications.
Override Origin & Position
Allows users to quickly override the origin point, direction, and floor level of a room setup in Varjo Base. This can help to temporarily fix tracking-related problems, such as a scene opening in the wrong direction or virtual content drifting out of place. This means that users can reset the position of the virtual elements or objects to match a specific position within a virtual setting.
Chroma Key UI in Varjo Base
Allows users to easily configure Chroma Keying by picking the color and fine tuning other parameters. Varjo’s Global Chroma Key toggle makes any application work with Chroma Keying. This functionality can be applied for example to flight simulators, where users can place a green canvas around a physical cockpit to fly in a synthetic environment, or to industrial design, where a 3D printed object can be dressed in various designs, allowing for rapid product design visualizations and enabling intuitive interactions with virtual products.
Unity XR SDK & Unity Support for Varjo Markers
XR SDK is a new plugin framework for Unity 2019.3 which provides multiple benefits for Unity developers. Varjo Markers provide an easy way to track and place virtual objects in mixed reality scenarios. Released previously as native API and with Unreal plugin, in the Varjo Base 2.4 software update, Varjo Marker support for Unity has been extended (more information can be found on Varjo’s developer pages).
Varjo states that it has many other new Varjo Base features and improvements on its drawing board, and the company aims to focus on the ones that matter most to professional users.
Version 2.4 of Varjo Base can be downloaded now from the Varjo website, along with demos of the new features and experimental SDK download packages.
Image / video credit: Varjo / Vimeo
About the author
Sam is the Founder and Managing Editor of Auganix. With a background in research and report writing, he has been covering XR industry news for the past seven years.