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6 Examples of Immersive Research Conducted Using Varjo Devices

October 2, 2023
Research and education

Varjo headsets are used in numerous VR research and educational applications by universities, higher education institutions, and other education providers around the world. Here are six examples of recent research conducted using Varjo headsets across different disciplines. 

AIT: Tangible Immersive Trauma Simulation: Is Mixed Reality the next level of medical skills training? 

AIT mixed reality research
Photo from the MR experience workshop showing an expert performing assisted respiration with an ambu bag in the outside view.

This study by the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT) aimed to explore the potential of mixed reality (MR) for medical skills training, particularly for first responders in trauma situations. The study proposed a novel approach that combined a physical manikin with a virtual avatar, allowing trainees to interact with both real and virtual elements by using the Varjo mixed reality headset. The proposed MR training scenario, where trainees had to deal with a car accident involving multiple injured people, was designed and evaluated in close exchange with first responder organizations. 

The study used both quantitative and qualitative data for evaluation. Twelve participants were recruited from different first responder organizations to complete the MR training scenario and a post-test questionnaire. The research team measured the participants’ levels of presence, stress, and technology acceptance, as well as their feedback on the MR system and the training scenario. 

The results showed that the participants experienced high levels of physical- and self-presence, increased stress levels, and high technology acceptance during the simulation. The MR approach was well received by the participants and they particularly appreciated the haptic and multi-sensory feedback and the realism and complexity of the training scenario. The study concluded that MR could be seen as a viable technological solution to create immersive skill training, perceived by end-users as a useful tool and addition to existing training solutions. 

Cornell University: XR-OOM: Mixing Virtual Driving Simulation with Real Cars and Environments Safely

Video: Cornell University

This research by David Goedicke, Alexandra W.D. Bremers, Hiroshi Yasuda, and Wendy Ju developed XR-OOM, a mixed-reality driving simulator system that utilizes Varjo’s mixed reality headsets and enables superimposing virtual objects and events into the view of participants engaging in real-world driving in unmodified vehicles. 

It presents system requirements and an initial proof-of-concept system design for a driving simulator that can be operated while driving an actual vehicle (in low speed test areas). It enables further development of measures for using these kinds of systems in ways that are safe, effective, and lead to accurate, repeatable data collection about behavioral responses in hybrid real-world/simulated driving tasks. 

This system is also expected to lower the costs of testing vehicle systems and interfaces (e.g. turn signals and dashboards), and increase real-world validity of similar studies going forward, because researchers won’t be restricted to a lab environment anymore. 

Anhalt University of Applied Sciences: Is Off-The-Shelf VR Software Ready for Medical Teaching?

mixed reality medical researchThis study by Angela Odame and Johannes Tümler from 2022 looks at the effectiveness of VR software for teaching medical knowledge compared to traditional learning methods and the degree of satisfaction associated with using VR. In this case, they tried teaching the anatomy of the human heart, one of the most complex concepts in anatomical education. 

One of the reasons for this was developing education in the field. Learning anatomical structures and their spatial relationships is crucial, but students frequently struggle with this because 2D images in textbooks or presentations do not always effectively convey the structures. 

The researchers conducted a randomized control study with 40 participants that were split into two groups of 20, one being the control group receiving conventional teaching and the other being the group where VR software was used with a Varjo headset. 

While both teaching methods were found to be effective, the VR group scored around 5% higher in a quiz that was run after the teaching had been completed (although the sample size was not large enough to tell if the result is statistically significant). 

However, the biggest difference came from student engagement. The VR group found the experience significantly more engaging, enjoyable, and useful. None of the participants had used VR to learn anatomy before, although a few of them had some previous experience of VR in general. Almost everyone rated it to be highly beneficial for teaching subjects like these. 

Evaluation of Visual Acuity and Perceptual Field of View Using the Varjo XR-3 Headset in a Virtual Environment

Varjo XR-3In this study, researchers Elizabeth Kappler, Rosemarie Figueroa Jacinto, and Steve Arndt set out to evaluate the display performance of the Varjo XR-3 headset, including its visual acuity and contrast sensitivity. The study compared the Varjo XR-3 with two other headsets, the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive Pro, using various tests of peripheral vision, static recognition acuity, contrast sensitivity, and user perception.  

The research participants were 14 adults who wore the Varjo XR-3 and performed tasks such as identifying characters, detecting symbols and colors, and moving their heads in the test environment. For comparison purposes, all tests were performed both in the real world and in virtual reality. Additionally, participants were provided with a survey section for open feedback to gather opinions on the overall user experience with the Varjo XR-3, for example concerning its resolution quality, eyesight experience, fit, and comfort level.

The results showed that the Varjo XR-3 provides significantly better visual acuity and performs significantly better on all foveal vision tests than the other examined headsets. The Varjo XR-3 also had similar performance to the real world in its peripheral field of view. The study concluded that Varjo XR-3’s advancements in visual and kinesthetic interactivity indicate vast potential in research, simulation, and training applications. 

University of Helsinki: Real-time Human Eye Resolution Ray Tracing in Mixed Reality

mixed reality reseacrh
A still image from the left eye while rendering a test scene for the ray tracing study. For visualisation purposes a red circle for the eye direction is added.

This 2021 study on mixed reality ray tracing by Tommi Mikkonen and Varjo’s Technical Director, Antti Peuhkurinen was conducted in collaboration with University of Helsinki and Varjo. The aim was to create a realistic and natural visualization for mixed reality applications using real-time ray tracing, a technique that simulates the behavior of reflections and shadows in 3D scenes.  
The researchers developed a novel ray tracing solution called Human Eye Resolution Ray Tracer (HERR) that achieves real-time frame rates in human eye resolution mixed reality. The HERR solution leverages Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 and the advanced features of Varjo’s XR headset, including its human-eye resolution display, foveated rendering and eye-tracking. 
The study concluded that the HERR solution is a feasible way to enable ray tracing in high-resolution mixed reality applications. The results were particularly encouraging because they demonstrate the feasibility of employing ray tracing as a primary visualization technique, capable of accommodating global illumination and per-frame scene updates. This paves the way for increasingly naturalistic visualizations in mixed reality environments. 
Varjo recently announced support for NVIDIA Omniverse for Real-Time Ray Tracing in Human-Eye Resolution. Learn more 

Trade-Off between Task Accuracy, Task Completion Time and Naturalness for Direct Object Manipulation in Virtual Reality

virtual reality research
Picture: Tampere University. In this example, the participant is about to pick an object with her right hand with the hand controller.

In this study, Jari Kangas, Sriram Kishore Kumar, Helena Mehtonen, Jorma Järnstedt and Roope Raisamo examined which interaction methods are the most effective in a virtual reality environment. They compare the use of controllers, a person’s hands (using hand tracking) and a hybrid model where both a controller and a person’s own hands are used.  

The research utilized a Varjo VR headset that has both hand tracking and controller support so all of these approaches could be investigated.  

The research had 12 participants, with 11 of them already having some experience with VR. The research found that the hybrid interaction technique was the most liked. It felt intuitive, easy to use, fast, reliable, and it provided haptic feedback resembling the real-world object grab. However, they also found that only using hand tracking was seen as having the most opportunities for improvement in the future. 


Are you part of an academic institution and looking to explore advanced VR/XR? Apply to the Varjo Academic Discount Program to unlock significant discounts and complimentary setup support for immersive research and learning.


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