Rare are the times in the S&T industry when a company advances to a next generation of its major product offerings in one swoop. Such was the case this Monday November 27 when Varjo unveiled its XR-4 series headsets – XR-4, XR-4 Focal Edition and XR-4 Secure Edition. MS&T had the opportunity to gain brief insights on the three new offerings and other activities in Varjo’s portfolio with Seppo Aaltonen, Chief Commercial Officer at the company.
Expanding Presence in Markets
Varjo entered 2023 I/ITSEC with an increasing share of companies across safety critical training and adjacent enterprises. On the defense side of the portfolio Varjo had customers at 16 of the 20 largest A&D companies and a presence in more than 70 defense programs.
“The defense side of the business has been doubling year-on-year,” the executive further emphasized. Beyond the military, the Finnish-based company had customers at 25% of Fortune 100 companies and at 16 of the 20 largest automotive manufacturers. Of special interest to CAT, an early Varjo commercial aviation customer is Loft Dynamics. “I see a lot of growth opportunities there also,” Aaltonen said and added, “We want to work with the FAA and all the authorities to help unlock the potential of this technology. You can increase the safety and training volume to make a very sound business case. The airline industry needs that type of innovation.”
Asked to comment on whether training enterprises are entering a “tipping point” on their use of Varjo XR, the executive responded, “Yes, I do believe so. I have seen in a way where we have seen good results by the early innovators. It has proven the business case and now we’re up for scaling. You see that on the I/ITSEC exhibition floor.” A Varjo “ecosystem map,” indicated the company’s products were in use at 50 demos at 41 company booths, in addition to a number of “private” conference events.
MS&T asked the executive what may be restraining the further use of XR in training enterprises. Aaltonen quickly replied, “The pain of change. When you have done something for years safely, and then are forced to adopt something new, there’s always some level of resistance.” Another issue sometimes cited for limiting the rapid integration of XR headsets into training programs are price points. This was on the mind of Varjo when it moved to a “democratization,” if you will, by having its entry level price starting at $3990 [3636 Euros] for the VR-4. “This was almost one-half than the previous generation (XR-3). We think that will make it much more accessible for a lot more people.”
Beyond headsets, the executive reminded MS&T that Varjo is also working to advance its cloud technology business. “We have the Varjo Reality Cloud that moves rendering into the cloud and enabling fast scaling. There’s a lot of action happening there as well.” The automotive industry is a huge, early customer of Varjo’s cloud offering.