Qualcomm's sample headset teases what's next for mobile VR

Isaac Cain
February 22, 2018

XR refers to extended reality, which includes AR, VR, and mixed reality technologies.

It will be available on a variety of chipsets, including the Snapdragon 835, 820 and 660 mobile platforms, but will be at its best on the Snapdragon 845.

With innovations around AI, Bluetooth audio and connected cars, there will be plenty on show, with a particular focus on the capabilities of the company's new flagship chipset, the Snapdragon 845, set to power the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S9. Qualcomm says this is achieved by the processing power of the Hexagon DSP and the Adreno GPU. This way, it can detect obstacles in front of you so you can avoid them while remaining immersed in VR.

Qualcomm TrueWireless Stereo Plus is an additional mode of the technology created to eliminate the need for cross-head Bluetooth® transmission by simultaneously connecting the mobile device to both earbuds.

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Inouye said Qualcomm's push to develop for the AR and VR market is helping drive it forward, but it will be up to developers and services to support these efforts and shape the growth in the market. "The 845 chip for AR and VR is the next step". As they explained to us in the call, they're focused on providing their partners with reference designs that can be quickly changed, branded as necessary and taken to market. This provides Snapdragon 845 headsets with 30 percent faster graphics and 30 percent better power efficiency than Snapdragon 835 headsets, along with more than twice as much display throughput. The company's previous SoC supported foveated rendering through a plugin for Unity and Unreal Engine. It keeps those parts of the picture sharp and clear, while the rest of the imagery outside of your field of view is blurry. The latter is particularly interesting because it makes use of "6DoF" (degrees of freedom) technology to track not only the user's body but also the location of real-world objects. "The performance and flexibility of our solutions have directly supported the success of numerous most iconic headsets and headphones from leading consumer electronics brands", said Anthony Murray, senior vice president and general manager, voice & music, Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd.

The 845 platform also includes a digital signal processor for measuring, filtering, or compressing analog signals.

Two face outwards to offer room-scale VR, while another brace of lenses are used inside the headset to track the wearer's eye movements to lower the resolution of areas in their peripheral vision while sharpening the bit they are looking at.

Right now, the new features are only available on Qualcomm's latest QCC5100 series chips, and, of course, it's up to device manufacturers to actually build headphones that use the chip and take advantage of these features. "One of our key goals with VR is to enable good VR for the masses".

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