Qualcomm processors have been put into a lot of AR and VR devices for some years now. Nevertheless, not any one of these chips have been dedicated fully to augmented reality or even virtual reality, instead, they have been intended for phones.
But thankfully all that is about to change as Qualcomm introduces the XR1, the first chip made by the company specially for AR as well as VR devices. The purpose of the chip is to provide an inexpensive way for companies to build entry-level models of augmented reality and virtual reality devices, because it is expected that the first ones of these devices should be hitting the market by the end of the year or early in 2019.
For Qualcomm to be involving itself in the augmented reality and virtual reality chip venture is very interesting for the industry, but then again, this first chip is not that exciting on its own. Snapdragon 845, Qualcomm’s current flagship phone processor as commented by the company is still a better option for augmented reality and virtual reality. The XR1 is built for less complex devices purposed for videos and passive experiences, not for games.
While commenting on the XR1, Qualcomm says it is made for “lean back and 360 viewing” of videos, and not for “room scale tracking,” it is equipped with “simple controllers,” instead of hand-tracking capabilities. Having mentioned that, the chip is still meant to be able to support 4K displays at 60 fps, it has voice activation, and the controllers are able to detect movement with six degrees of freedom.
It will become more fascinating and intriguing if Qualcomm makes up its mind to build more advanced chips in the XR line. If it uses out-and-out hardware, the company should be able to design chips that specifically support the features of augmented and virtual reality devices rather than making use of chips for general purposes like what it does with its camera chips. The XR1 is the first one down this line and it seems as if the Qualcomm is starting slow to determine if the market is prepared to have mixed reality headsets.