There are already a handful of virtual reality headsets powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon chips, but up until now headsets with Snapdragon chips have basically used the same processors as smartphones.
Now Qualcomm has unveiled its first chip designed specifically for virtual reality and augmented reality devices.
It’s called the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1, with XR standing for “extended reality.”
Qualcomm says the processor can handle 4K video at up to 60 frames per second and features technology for hardware-accelerated video processing, 3D audio support, and a sensor hub that enables support for head tracking and motion controls with support for either 3 degrees of freedom or 6 degrees.
The company says device makers including Vive, Vuzix, Meta, and Pico are already developing headsets around the new platform, and according to Qualcomm’s promotional video, the company sees the XR1 chip being used in consumer-oriented entertainment devices as well as professional headsets that could be used by workers in the field, among other things.
While it’s unlikely that a Snapdragon XR1-powered headset will be able to outperform high-end, PC-based headsets like the HTC Vive Pro or Oculus Rift when it comes to gaming performance, the XR1 is a low-power chip that can be used in standalone headsets that don’t need to be tethered to a PC or phone in order to function.