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Qualcomm tries to muscle in on VR euphoria

virtual reality

Qualcomm has tried to forget its legal woes for the moment with the launch of a Snapdragon 835 VR Development Kit, which targets the next breakthrough in the VR world.

It’s probably a sensible move from the chipmaker which hasn’t really made much noise in the VR world to date. Instead of playing catch-up with the current trends and developments, it is looking further forward, creating a foundation for the next breakthrough in VR; precise, low-latency 6 degrees of freedom (6-DoF) motion.

It might sound complicated, but it is just a fancy name. Essentially 6-DoF is the movement from a standing VR perspective, to one where the user can move around in an immersive environment. Currently in the VR world, you are watching the story, but with 6-DoF you can become part of it. Without going into too much nitty, gritty detail, the image below illustrates this point quite well.

VR 1 VR 2

For all the advances which have been made in the world of VR, it is still a very basic experience. There are numerous reasons for this, but ultimately it all comes down to one; it’s still very early days for the technology.

The big picture might be wandering around an environment where everything is truly 360 degrees, you can interact with everything, being as close to the real world as possible. But latency concerns, the colossal amounts of data which would be required, processing power, as well as the developer work to create such immersive environments, and users’ having space where you won’t walk into tables, are all factors which have held back such developments.

It’s a long-play from Qualcomm, but better to be ahead of the game than spending billions to catch-up today. And considering the suspect hole it is digging for itself in the mobile world, it might need another out somewhere along the line. Apple’s challenge to Qualcomm’s business model of collecting royalties has the potential to shake the basic foundations of the organization. We’re not too sure which direction this case will go for the moment, but irrelevant of the outcome, exploring new areas is not a bad idea from the chipmaker.

While it has had a low profile to date, this isn’t the first venture into VR for Qualcomm. Last month, the team announced it was working with HTC to create a VR headset for China, an additional venture to the one the pair have been working on with Google for the Western markets. The latest Google headset is based on Qualcomm’s hardware-design, however it has a load of Google tracking software interwoven.

Aside from launching a Head-mounted display (HMD) Accelerator Program (HAP) in recent months, Qualcomm has also announced the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 VR Development Kit (VRDK), which gives developers early access to a Snapdragon 835 VR HMD. As part of this kit, developers will have access to an API to give access to both the current and future (predicted) head pose. This will be an important area when it comes to the realities of 6-DoF.

This is certainly early days for Qualcomm, and of course there is no guarantee a late entrant could make a big enough splash, but it is a sensible and logical move nonetheless.

  • VR & AR World

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