Qualcomm Inc are planning to unveil a new dedicated chip to power standalone virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) headsets, according to people familiar with the matter. The information, which was reported to Bloomberg by people who wished not to be identified, says the move is part of Qualcomm’s plan to break into new business beyond smartphones.
This rumor points towards the announcement being made fairly soon, with it being as early as taking place at the Augmented World Expo in Santa Clara, California, which take place from May 30th through to June 1st, 2018. The rumored chip is said to be called the Snapdragon XR1 and will be a system-on-a-chip with a main processing unit, graphics processor, security functions and components to handle artificial intelligence (AI) tasks. The chip is also said to be able to handle voice control and head-tracking interaction with headsets, meaning it would be a powerful piece of equipment to have within standalone headsets.
Qualcomm are reporting designing the chip to be easier for hardware manufactures to build headsets which are cheap, powerful and energy-efficient. With the industry moving towards standalone headsets, including the recent release of the Oculus Go, the need for more powerful chips is a need the industry has right now. If this chip is indeed as powerful as the rumor makes it out to be, there the opportunities for standalone headsets with plenty of power and interaction could become more common in the market.
The Oculus Go uses a Qualcomm smartphone chip with Google having also partnered on standalone headsets that make use of Qualcomm phone processors. With a chipset optimized specifically for standalone headsets, a number of improvements in functionality and battery life could see the products rapidly grow in technical achievement. Qualcomm have declined to comment on the rumor, with Bloomberg noting that the company is actively seeking new sources of revenue as growth in smartphones dries up and competition raises.
With competition, Apple are reportedly at work developing their own chip for AR glasses which are said to be on sale in early 2020, with Intel and Nvidia actively investing into this field as well. Though at this point the information is only a rumor, it will be interesting to see if Qualcomm make an announcement at the Augmented World Expo. VRFocus will be sure to bring you all the latest on this story as it develops, so stay tuned for more.