WE'RE CALLING IT: 2020 will be the year of virtual reality (VR). Our logic? That's when Qualcomm plans to facilitate 5G smartphone-powered virtual and augmented reality headsets with eye-tracking tech.
The chipmaker will do this through its Smart Viewer Reference Design, will provide a blueprint for VR/AR goggles that work by having a 5G capable smartphone connected to them via USB-C.
The idea is that the headset will provide all the gubbins needed for convincing VR/AR, such as movement, eye and hand tracking, and will hold a solid display with 2K resolution per eye and a 72hz refresh rate, while the connected smartphone takes care of all the processing and immersive software running. Controllers with six-degrees of freedom (6DoF) movement will also form part of the design.
Sucking processing power from a smartphone rather than relying on it to also carry out sensor and screen work, could enable for slicker VR/AR specs or more capable headsets.
Furthermore, Qualcomm has made a song and dance about how 5G will enable better VR/AR experiences thanks to improved connectivity, bandwidth, and lower latency, so having a 5G-capable smartphone providing such next-gen mobile broadband, could give AR, in particular, a kick up the jacksie.
"By distributing the workload and tapping into the compute power of host devices via tethering to users' smartphone or PC, the reference designs' additional features like eye tracking and 6DoF controllers unlock a deeper level of XR immersion," said Hugo Swart, head of XR (extended reality), at Qualcomm.
At the same time, the reference design taps into Qualcomm's Snapdragon XR1 platform, which contains enough processing power and XR related capabilities to power a headset by itself, with the caveat that the VR/AR experiences will be more limited than those a phone can deliver.
As is the case with such reference dealings, while Qualcomm reveals them now, they aren't likely to find their way into headsets you can buy until 2020.
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