Varjo’s Enthusiast-grade VR headset gets a brain-computer interface (and it’s not cheap) – Road to VR

Varjo, maker of high-end XR headsets, and OpenBCI, a company creating open source brain-computer interface solutions, today announced a new partnership that brings the long-awaited OpenBCI “Galea” neural interface to the Varjo’s latest Aero VR headset, something the companies say will provide “deeper insight to augment the human mind”.

Update (11:15 a.m. ET): Previously, OpenBCI tapped Valve and eye-tracking company Tobii as product partners for Galea, aiming to integrate it with Valve Index. It is not certain that OpenBCI intends to continue this partnership. We have reached out for more details and will update here.

Pricing was also a mystery, as orders are only open to previous beta partners. Tech analyst and YouTuber Brad Lynch has managed to get a screenshot from a registered user, revealing that the Varjo Aero + Galea kit appears to be priced at $22,500, putting it well out of reach. a consumer. The shipment is apparently taking place in five batches, which begin with the first estimated shipment date of August 2023.

OpenBCI originally announced Galea in late 2020, a hardware and software platform designed to merge its brain-computer interface technology with XR headsets.

This is an area of ​​research that many companies are turning to (like Valve) in hopes that such non-invasive devices could provide a wealth of new data. Knowing how a person reacts in real time to a virtual stimulus could give developers more ways to deliver dynamic content in the future.

Since then, the Brooklyn, New York-based company says it has attracted beta candidates spanning consumer technology, healthcare, research, education, games and interactive media. Now, Finnish XR headset creator Varjo, known for its exceptionally high-resolution headsets aimed primarily at businesses, is shipping its Aero VR headset with Galea’s beta system, neatly packed into the headset strap.

Image courtesy of Varjo, OpenBCI

Galea would include a suite of sensors including electroencephalogram (EEG), electrooculography (EOG), electromyography (EMG), electrodermal activity (EDA) and photoplethysmography (PPG) sensors, which are intended to measure brain, eye, heart, skin and muscle data.

Varjo Aero is a stripped-down version of the company’s latest headset that offers industry-leading fidelity and advanced features for a cheaper (re: not cheap) price that makes the company’s offering more attractive to midsize businesses. and wealthy virtual reality enthusiasts. Without Galea, Aero is priced at $2,000 and has no annual fee, a far cry from the company’s previous enterprise headsets that range from $3,200 to $5,500 (plus an annual fee of $800 to $1,500).

OpenBCI and Varjo are opening of pre-orders starting today, May 31, specifically aimed at companies, developers and researchers who have already applied to the Galea Beta program. The headset-BCI combo would include SDKs with out-of-the-box building blocks for accessing sensor data in Unity, Python, and several other common development environments.

If there are any units left after pre-orders, the companies will open the sale to the general public on July 1, 2022. It’s not certain what price the companies intend to take on the BCI-enabled Aero, however (see update). day).

Read our Varjo Aero review here and see the full specs below for the helmet (without Galea):

Varjo Aero specifications

Resolution 2880 x 2720 (7.8 MP) per eye, mini LED LCD (2x)
Refresh Assess 90Hz
Lenses Aspherical
Field of view (claimed) 134° diagonal, 115° horizontal (at 12mm eye relief)
Optical adjustments IPD (automatic motor drive)
IPD setting range 57–73mm
Connectors USB-C → breakout box (USB-A 3.0, DisplayPort 1.4)
Cable length 5m
Followed SteamVR Tracking 1.0 or 2.0 (external tags)
On-board cameras 2x eye tracking
To input None included (supports SteamVR controllers)
audio 3.5mm auxiliary port
Microphone None (supports external mic via auxiliary port)
Direct view Nope
lester 487g + 230g headband with counterweight