2016 will most likely be remembered as the year when the concept of virtual reality took flight, as VR continues to become a real phenomenon not only for PC gamers and high-end consumers but also for the mobile market. The Samsung Gear VR is the most popular mobile VR headset currently on the market, and when paired with the Samsung Galaxy S7 or the Galaxy S7 Edge, one could say that the Gear VR itself is powered either by Samsung's own Exynos 8890 SoC or Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 820 chipset, which has been manufactured by Samsung in its own facilities using a 14 nm FinFET process. The latter silicon seems to play a bigger role in the whole mobile VR scene than any other chipset, as Qualcomm recently announced an upcoming SDK (software development kit) designed to take advantage of the Snapdragon 820's full potential in virtual reality applications.
Today Qualcomm Technologies issued a press release detailing an upcoming SDK for the Snapdragon 820, designed to give developers proper advanced tools for creating VR content, ranging from educational and entertainment applications to games and 360-degree videos. The goal is to simplify the development of VR applications for devices powered by the Snapdragon 820, all the while improving performance and power efficiency for Android smartphones and upcoming VR headsets. The list of features includes brand new technologies "crucial for an optimal VR user experience", including "DSP sensor fusion" which allows developers to create immersive and responsive experiences by combining predictive head positioning and high frequency inertial data from accelerometers and gyroscopes. The SDK will also include "stereoscopic rendering with lens correction" for improved visual quality, "VR layering" to help developers generate text, menus, and overlays which would otherwise be difficult to read in a virtual reality environment, and "fast motion to photon" which can reduce latency by up to 50%.
Last but not least, the software development kit will integrate with Qualcomm Symphony System Manager for easier access to power and performance management, which can lead to more stable frame rates in VR applications running on less-powerful devices. Qualcomm's Snapdragon VR SDK is expected to be publicly available sometime in the second quarter of the year when developers will be able to acquire the kit through the official Qualcomm Developer Network.