Having conquered smartphones and smartwatches, Qualcomm now wants its powerful mobile chips to power all-in-one virtual reality headsets.
The chipmaker announced its latest processor, the Snapdragon 835, will play a key role in accelerating the adoption of headsets that aren’t dependent on a smartphone or a tether to a PC.
To help developers get a jump on creating mobile VR experiences, Qualcomm’s introducing a Snapdragon VR development kit (VRDK) that includes an all-in-one VR headset (often called the holy grail of VR) with a bunch of sensors that doesn’t require a smartphone to be slotted in. The headset is a reference design, meaning Qualcomm has no plans to market it as a consumer product.
“With this new VRDK, were providing virtual reality application developers with advanced tools and technologies to accelerate a new generation of VR games, 360-degree VR videos and a variety of interactive education, enterprise, healthcare and entertainment applications,” Qualcomm executive vice president Cristiano Amon said in a press release.
VR enthusiasts will notice the headset’s specs are basically on par with a high-end Android phone. Aside from the embedded 835 processor, the headset has a 2,560 x 1,440 AMOLED display (split between two eyes), two fisheye cameras on the outside for motion tracking, two monochromatic VGA cameras for eye tracking on the inside and an integrated trackpad (just like on the Samsung Gear VR).
Other specs include 64GB of internal storage, 4GB of RAM, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and USB-C for charging.
All of these upgrades from the previous Snapdragon 820-based Qualcomm reference headset will help with improving mobile VR experiences by reducing latency, correcting visual distortions, and providing powerful motion-tracking for more immersive experiences.
And speaking of motion-tracking, Qualcomm’s partnering up with Leap Motion to add hand-tracking to mobile VR experiences.
“Untethered, mobile VR headsets with intuitive, hand-based interaction and position tracking bring a level of quality, immersion, and accessibility to VR unlike anything that’s been seen before,” says Leap Motion CTO David Holz.
“This relationship with a mobile VR processing leader like Qualcomm Technologies is an important step towards making virtual reality truly ubiquitous, and we believe it has the potential to fundamentally transform the makeup of the human experience.”
Even though the headset, which will be available in Q2 of this year, is only a reference design for third-party companies to model their own VR headsets after, it’s not hard to see how exciting mobile VR is about to get.