At a small press-conference at IFA in Berlin, Qualcomm has been outlining its plan to slash the costs of virtual reality hardware. The mobile processor giant has unveiled a reference headset design, called the Snapdragon VR820, that is built around its Snapdragon 820 processor. The aim is to allow manufacturers to cut development costs, which should make VR cheaper for consumers too.
Along with four of Qualcomm’s custom Kryo CPU cores and an Adreno 530 GPU, the Snapdragon VR820 comes with a pair of 1440×1400 AMOLED displays with 70Hz refresh rates. The headset features eye-tracking hardware, six-axis motion tracking, and two forward-facing cameras. Interestingly, these cameras can transmit data to the display, allowing the headset to double up for augmented reality applications too.
The added upside of Qualcomm’s design is that, just like other headset that use smartphone technology, the VR820 will be free from cables, offering up superior freedom of movement. However, the hardware tucked inside the headset is much less capable than top-notch PC hardware, so customers shouldn’t expect the same gaming performance and titles as the Rift of Vive. Even so, there are lots of potential uses for mobile-based VR products.
“The Snapdragon VR820 integrates key technologies and features for an exceptional VR experience and provides a springboard for OEMs and developers to usher in the next generation of truly portable and untethered devices that we think are necessary for mass consumer adoption of VR,” – Anthony Murray, senior vice president and general manager, IoT, Qualcomm
Given the huge costs of high performance PC hardware and a Rift or Vive, or a flagship smartphone and a Samsung Gear VR headset or equivalent, there’s certainly room in the market for cheaper competitors. By focusing on just the necessary hardware and providing support dedicated to a single reference design, Qualcomm’s strategy should help to make cheaper hardware a reality.
Importantly, Qualcomm isn’t looking to sell its own headsets directly to consumers. Instead, the Snapdragon VR820 will act as a blueprint for other manufacturers to design around, which could generate extra chip sales for Qualcomm.
This article was originally published on our sister site VRSource.com
SEP 1, 2016 BERLIN, GERMANY
Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) today announced at IFA 2016 that its subsidiary, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., has introduced its first virtual reality (VR) reference platform, the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ VR820. Based on the powerful Snapdragon 820 processor, the Snapdragon VR820 enables OEMs to quickly develop standalone head mounted displays (HMDs) optimized for VR content and applications while meeting the processing and performance demands of an all-in-one, dedicated VR headset.
“Consumers everywhere are captivated by truly immersive VR experiences, and Qualcomm Technologies’ capabilities in graphics, displays, video, audio, computer vision and sensor technologies, as well as power and thermal efficiencies proven over years of smartphone innovation, uniquely positions us to help customers bring these experiences to life,” said Anthony Murray, senior vice president and general manager, IoT, Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd. “The Snapdragon VR820 integrates key technologies and features for an exceptional VR experience and provides a springboard for OEMs and developers to usher in the next generation of truly portable and untethered devices that we think are necessary for mass consumer adoption of VR.”
Developed with Goertek, a leading global ODM, the Snapdragon VR820 includes advanced features such as integrated eye tracking with two cameras, dual front facing cameras for six degrees of freedom (6DOF) and see-through applications, four microphones, gyro, accelerometer, and magnetometer sensors, all contained in an elegant, sleek and comfortable design. The reference platform combines Goertek’s innovative system design including mechanical, electrical, optical, acoustic, and firmware development with the groundbreaking computing, graphics, sensor fusion, audio, connectivity, power management, VR software and system capabilities of the Snapdragon 820.
The platform is built upon the groundbreaking Snapdragon VR Software Development Kit (SDK) providing OEMs and developers with access to optimized, advanced VR features, to help simplify development and improve VR performance and power efficiency with the Snapdragon 820 for standalone VR HMDs.
Snapdragon 820: Designed with VR in Mind
The Snapdragon VR820 is built upon the powerful Snapdragon 820 mobile processor, which is designed to support and advance the requirements for immersive VR. The Snapdragon 820 processor is an ideal solution that allows the platform to provide compelling visual and auditory experiences, as well as intuitive interactions.
- Visual Quality:
- Qualcomm® Adreno™ 530 GPU for next-generation console-quality VR gaming and apps, while delivering up to 40 percent improvement to graphics performance and compute capabilities compared to its predecessor
- Smooth, stereoscopic 3D, with foveated rendering, and support for the latest graphics APIs
- 1440×1440 resolution per eye, AMOLED panel that supports up to 70Hz
- 360° 4K video playback processing with HEVC compression and display refresh rates at 70 FPS
- Qualcomm® TruPalette™ display gamut mapping, color enhancement comprehensive control over colors
- Qualcomm® EcoPix™ pixel compression, with variable refresh for extended battery life
- Sound Quality:
- Stereo, binaural positional audio, and 3D surround sound, powered by Qualcomm Aqstic™ audio technologies
- Four microphones with Fluence™ HD noise filtering and active noise cancellation
- Intuitive Interactions:
- Dual Qualcomm Spectra™ camera ISPs combined with Qualcomm® Hexagon™ DSP for advanced vision features such as look-through imaging and 3D reconstruction, eye-tracking and hand gestures
- Predictive, monocular visual motion tracking with full 6DOF at 800Hz for smooth tracking of head motion in movement as well as rotation
- Ultra-fast sensing, processing with average motion to photon latency under 18ms
- Powerful computing:
- Custom-designed 64-bit Qualcomm® Kryo™ quad-core CPU for high-performance computing
- Integrated Hexagon 680 DSP for efficiently processing advanced vision, audio, and Qualcomm All-Ways Aware™ ultra-low power “always-on” sensor technology without impacting CPU processing load
The Snapdragon VR820 is anticipated to be available in Q4 2016 with the first commercial devices based on the platform expected to be available shortly thereafter.
About Qualcomm Incorporated
Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) is a world leader in 3G, 4G and next-generation wireless technologies. Qualcomm Incorporated includes Qualcomm’s licensing business, QTL, and the vast majority of its patent portfolio. Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, operates, along with its subsidiaries, substantially all of Qualcomm’s engineering, research and development functions, and substantially all of its products and services businesses, including its semiconductor business, QCT. For more than 30 years, Qualcomm ideas and inventions have driven the evolution of digital communications, linking people everywhere more closely to information, entertainment and each other. For more information, visit Qualcomm’s website, OnQ blog, Twitter and Facebook pages.