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Finns widen frame for extended reality

Jussi Makinen (left) and Urho Konttori have drawn on years of experience to create their solution.

Distance Technologies

Distance Technologies, a company founded by two ex-executives of Varjo, has developed a prototype that can project three-dimensional elements anywhere on the windscreen.

“This is a technological breakthrough,” CEO Urho Konttori proclaimed in an interview with Helsingin Sanomat. “We’ve already gone and shown this to a couple of automotive makers, who were excited.”

Distance Technologies’ solution utilises a computer-generated three-dimensional light field to project a variety of situational content, be it analytics or information, anywhere on the windscreen while tracking the eye and head movements of the driver. Konttori told the Finnish newspaper that this makes it possible to optimise the distance and location of the content for the driver.

“No one has done that before,” he highlighted.

Some contemporary cars are equipped with a head-up display, a feature that projects relevant information, such as directions, speed and speed limit, on a small area, usually at the edge of the windscreen.

“The previous-generation devices had only one small projection area, which stays at the same level,” said Konttori.

The prototype also offers flawless per-pixel depth across the field of vision to guarantee maximum immersion and content that integrates seamlessly with the real world – without requiring a headset or any other kind of wearables.

The first commercial applications are expected to be in the automotive, aeronautics and defence spaces, but, with the prototype capable of turning basically any transparent surface into a mixed-reality display, future iterations of the design are expected to unlock market opportunities in a range of other industries.

Konttori established Distance Technologies with Jussi Mäkinen, formerly the director of marketing at Varjo. The 13-strong staff also includes three other former employees of the Finnish company known for its human-eye resolution VR headsets.

Distance Technologies in June revealed that it has raised 2.7 million euros in an oversubscribed pre-seed round led by FOV Ventures and Maki.vc. The round also brought investments from Business Finland and Foobar.vc.

The company is expected to release more details about its glasses-free extended reality solution later this year.

By: Aleksi Teivainen