Older Mixed Reality Steps Forward With New Qualcomm Design

Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 Platform 01

Qualcomm is showcasing plans for a new design for an old mixed reality (XR) headset for OEMs to reference from. That’s based on reports detailing what new about the hardware.

Specifically, the widely-lauded chipset maker is foregoing its newer XR2 chipset, launched last year, in favor of the XR1. That chip is much older but not necessarily irrelevant, prompting the company to make some improvements and release a new design. In fact, the new design is already being distributed to “select partners” as of this writing. With further hardware developers slated to get theirs sometime in the next several months.

Qualcomm is reusing an old mixed-reality chip and not sticking with what’s new?

Now, the latest reference design is built in partnership with Goertek. And that should come as no surprise. The company has been a go-to for Qualcomm on hardware for some time now.


The design itself is a headset composed of two 1080p micro-LED displays. Those are set at a frame rate of up to 90Hz. So, as noted above, it doesn’t really approach the latest offering from Qualcomm. That hardware has been paired with an image stabilization-enhanced, 8-megapixel camera. As well as two monochrome cameras for head and hand tracking.

Key differences between this and previous headset designs, however, include the fact that this is a “smart viewer.”

That means that this headset isn’t tethered and shares its workload with a host device. On-headset optimizations for gesture recognition, graphics processing, and more utilize both devices to drop energy consumption by up to 30-percent. That’s regardless of whether it’s connected to a PC or smartphone.


You’ll never actually use this XR headset and here’s why

Of course, as this is a reference design, it isn’t intended for end-users at all. So it isn’t necessarily a bad thing that it’s a bit weaker than Qualcomm’s newest offering. As a reference design, this headset is intended for use by other companies.

Summarily, the new reference design stands as a point of comparison for those OEMs. Specifically, that’s in order to help standardize the industry and give something for OEMs to build on. Particularly as it pertains to mixed reality smart viewers. Because this is mixed reality, the headset leans toward productivity more than entertainment. Although it can easily be used for both. And it serves as a foundation for both for up-and-coming hardware makers.

For instance, Qualcomm says that this headset can render multiple displays. And that allows PC users and smartphone users alike to pin windows to space contained within the headset’s displays.