Every story about virtual reality starts with a demo.
You're in the National Gallery of Finland, a beautiful Beaux-Arts structure in downtown Helsinki. Against the dark hues of the museum walls, luminous works of art shimmer. Using a familiar VR controller, you leap across the room to a spot you've selected by pointing a green circle in front of you. Standing in the new spot, just inches from "The Fighting Capercaillies," an 1886 painting by Finnish artist Ferdinand von Wright, you are effectively pressed with your nose against the painting, one of the most famous Finnish works of art.
This would not be proper behavior in the actual museum, but in this virtual world, your temerity allows you to see something you've never seen in VR before: Detail. You can see the weave of the canvas, the layers of oil paint, all the things you should see as you get close to something.
This is virtual reality at a new level of precision, made possible by tiny startup Varjo. Up a quiet street in Helsinki, inside an old police building, the company's carpeted demo room allows you to walk around with a generous length of cable between the headset and the PC. You think to yourself: This is a hell of a lot better than most VR. But that's just the beginning.
"We were always focused on being a mixed-reality company," says Jussi Mäkinen, head of marketing at Varjo. Since its founding three years