Qualcomm reveals Snapdragon 845 Mobile VR headset reference design
QUALCOMM WANTS TO STUFF its chips into more virtual reality (VR) kit and it has shown off a reference design for a Snapdragon 845 Mobile VR headset.
Looking like a cross between Samsung’s Gear VR goggles and an Oculus Rift headset, Qualcomm’s design looks like a fairly standard VR headset.
The headset will rely on smartphones equipped with its latest Snapdragon 845 chipset, such as the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S9 and Sony Xperia XZ2, to provide the horsepower for the VR experience.
Using its gutsy flagship chip, the headset has been designed to support a resolution of 2400×2400 or 1400×1400 per eye, delivering images to the display at smooth 120 frames per second. That’s quite a step up from the 2880×1,440 resolution at 90hz offered by the Acer Windows Mixed Reality headset which we’ve been messing around with this week.
But the key to a good VR experience is movement tracking, which is why the Snapdragon 845 VR headset comes equipped with a suite of cameras.
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. This rather smart approach should offer a more visually impressive VR experience with better performance while also saving overall power consumption.
Given the Snapdragon 845 has a dedicated digital signal processor and image signal processor, it’s no surprise the headset has been designed around the capabilities of Qualcomm’s flagship chip.
As it’s a reference design, don’t go expecting to see a Qualcomm headset on the shelves of your local tech emporium anytime soon. Rather, the design will be adopted by other tech firms.
“With the Snapdragon 845 Mobile VR Platform, we’re supporting the next wave of smartphone and standalone VR headsets for our customers and developers to create the immersive applications and experiences of the future,” said Hugo Swart, head of the virtual and augmented reality business group at Qualcomm.
The “standalone” part in the most interesting bit as we could see tech firms create Snapdragon 845-powered VR headsets that have the chipset built-in rather than relying on a smartphone to power it.
In our experience, smartphone-powered VR headsets can be occasionally fiddly to get going and the handset can get quite warm making the whole VR experience feel less than futuristic. So a simple standalone headset certainly has its appeal.
No doubt there will be a flood of similar headsets at Mobile World Congress 2018, many with ambitions to make VR truly mainstream.µ