To reduce the development time needed in creating virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) smart viewers, Qualcomm collaborated with the acoustic components company Goertek and announced the Snapdragon Smart Viewer Reference Design at Augmented World Expo 2019.
By developing a reference design, device manufacturers no longer need to build proprietary models for their products, and they may instead choose to copy the design created by Qualcomm, resulting in a much earlier release of VR/AR headsets powered by 5G-capable handsets and computers.
The Snapdragon Smart Viewer Reference Design takes advantage of the Snapdragon XR1 platform, a chip that aims to accelerate the processing of video, audio, and commands by smart viewers. Qualcomm released this platform last year, and it is intended to offer improved immersion experience, albeit at a less premium scale compared to flagship Snapdragon chipsets.
The reference design itself offers several key features, which many standalone virtual reality and augmented reality headsets are expected to feature.
The Snapdragon Smart Viewer Reference Design offers three types of tracking, namely movement tracking, hand tracking, and eye tracking.
The device offers six-degrees of freedom movement tracking, which removes the need for external motion sensors to detect the motion of the user. The product also provides support for detecting gestures made by the user's hands, which include tap, zoom, pinch, and scroll. Qualcomm also collaborated with the tech firm Tobii to offer eye tracking, making it easier for the smart viewer to offer gaze direction and more immersive interfaces. The reference design also provides support for both six-degrees of freedom tracking-capable controllers and vision-based controllers.
Users have two options to use the device. People may choose to connect the headset to a host device like 5G-capable smartphones or computers using a USB Type-C port, although they may utilize the reference design's standalone mode. With this mode, all the computation for virtual reality and augmented reality experiences are done directly on the headset, and with the Snapdragon XR1 chipset, Qualcomm claims that the headset can deliver these experiences at relatively low power consumption.
The VR and AR experiences offered by the Smart Viewer Reference Design are displayed on a screen manufactured by JDI, and this panel comes with a resolution of 2K and a refresh rate of 72Hz.
This new product is just a part of Qualcomm's commitment to developing solutions for virtual reality and augmented reality. During MWC 2019, the company unveiled the XR Viewer Ecosystem, which takes advantage of Qualcomm's newest flagship chipset, the Snapdragon 855, to deliver AR experience at a variety of form factors. Aside from utilizing by hardware developed by Qualcomm, this ecosystem also uses proprietary APIs, allowing the chipset to work with the various VR products designed by third-party manufacturers.
Like the Smart Viewer Reference Design, Qualcomm unveiled this ecosystem also to reduce the development time associated with creating virtual reality experiences. The restrictions set by proprietary hardware platforms from different manufacturers often hinders the development of virtual reality experiences. Furthermore, this ecosystem will help developers respond to the emergence of 5G networks, which is thought to make VR and AR more prevalent.
Qualcomm will release more information about its VR and AR experiences during the AWE 2019 on May 30th.