I’m sitting in a Volvo XC60 in Italy when a moose appears from out of a doorway. Except that none of this is real. I’m actually sat in an office chair in a San Francisco office building, wearing Varjo’s XR-1 mixed-reality headset. It’s a ridiculous scenario, but both virtual reality and augmented reality are adding a new twist on the car design process.
Unlike the Hololens or Magic Leap headsets, the XR-1 is completely enclosed like a VR system. On the front are two cameras that deliver the outside world in near real-time to the wearer. Varjo says that it’s reduced the latency until it’s almost imperceptible. I keep clapping my hands and moving my head around to test their theory. It’s not a good look. Still, the system checks out and I sit down in my virtual Volvo that has appeared in the office.