Varjo, a Finnish startup developing virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (XR) technologies for the enterprise, has raised $54 million in a series C round of funding.
The Helsinki-based company also announced a new CEO — Timo Toikkanen has been promoted from president and chief operating officer (COO), while Niko Eiden will step into the chief experience officer (CXO) role after nearly two years as CEO.
Founded in 2016, Varjo has been setting out to build a high resolution VR and XR headset that promises clarity comparable to the human eye, a pre-requisite for many industrial applications such as flight simulators which may require the user to be able to read fine details on screens within the virtual world. Such level of detail may not always be required in consumer VR headsets.
Varjo provides this side-by-side comparison showing the level of clarity provided by its headset compared to an undisclosed competitor, using the DCS World combat flight simulator as an example.
The company’s most recent devices, the VR-2 and VR-2 Pro, cost €5,000 ($5,900) and $6,000 ($7,000) respectively, and support VR content hosted on SteamVR as well as Valve’s OpenVR development platform.
Varjo also sells the €10,000 XR-1 Developer edition, a mixed reality headset aimed at “design and research professionals” which enables digital objects to merge with the real world in the user’s field of view. The device can also be easily switched between real and virtual environments, going from reality, to mixed reality, to full virtual reality.
“Both the VR-2 and VR-2 Pro are designed for professional use cases only, and they are used by software engineers, simulation professionals, industrial designers, and researchers,” Toikkanen told VentureBeat. “XR-1 is usually chosen by companies who want to integrate their physical controllers or cockpits with virtual training environments, or do design reviews of virtual cars in real environments.”
It’s worth noting that Varjo’s headsets are not standalone entities — they work in tandem with a PC or powerful laptop, which is indicative of Varjo’s enterprise-focused target market.
“We started from doing the best possible experience for the most demanding enterprise use cases, using the best technology available,” Toikkanen explained. “Computers have far greater capabilities in terms of delivering exceptional graphics and at the same time ensuring data security unlike wireless solutions. This is especially important for many of our customers in training and simulation.”
Varjo has already conjured up some high-profile customers, including Boeing which recently announced that it would use Varjo’s headsets to train astronauts for Starliner space missions, in addition to Volvo (which is also an investor), Audi, and Siemens which are using the platform to design cars and develop new products.
Earlier this year, Varjo also inked a deal with MeetinVR, for business cases requiring remote collaboration between colleagues, customers, and partners, and includes support for virtual whiteboards.
“After the initial shock caused by COVID-19 in March, we have seen a growing interest in immersive solutions for remote training and collaboration,” Toikkanen added. “We’ve also received hundreds of loaner device applications since we opened Varjo’s remote loaner program in May.”
Prior to now, Varjo had raised around $46 million, including its $31 million series B round back in 2018, and with another $54 million in the bank from an array of investors — including Volvo (via the Volvo Cars Tech Fund), Atomico, NordicNinja, EQT Ventures, Lifeline Ventures, Tesi, and Swisscanto Invest by Zürcher Kantonalbank — the company said that it will “accelerate its global expansion and development” of hardware and software products for industry.