Qualcomm has announced a brand new processor dedicated to being used in AR & VR headsets. Called the XR1, the chip has been designed to make it easier and cheaper for companies to build dedicated AR or VR headsets.
Some of Qualcomm’s current processor chips, such as the Snapdragon 835 and 845, have already been used in headsets and the company itself says the 845 is a more powerful chip than the XR1, and is still the better option for headsets that play high-intensity games. The XR1 meanwhile is for use in more simple headsets.
Basic Augmented Reality headsets for example only require a heads-up display to overlay information, it’s this sort of device that the XR1 will serve well, as the Snapdragon 845 has too much extra power that is theoretically wasted. It can also be used in headsets that you wear to view 360-degree videos, rather than those that require full room-scale tracking.
XR1 headsets will only support three degrees of freedom, meaning they can track roll, yaw and pitch of a users’ head, but they won’t be able to track it within a 3D space, for that, you will need a Snapdragon 845 headset with six degrees of freedom support. Ultimately, XR1 headsets “are designed for ‘lean back,’ video-centric experiences like 360-degree 2D video, simple gaming, and simple interactivity at a lower price point,” according to Hiren Bhinde, XR product management director.
The XR1 chip can support 4K video at 60fps and voice control, and will also support Qualcomm’s audio technologies such as aptX. There’s no definitive word on when we can expect to see the first headsets using the XR1 platform, but Qualcomm has already partnered with Vive, Pico, Vuzix and Meta, with more to be announced in the coming months, so it shouldn’t be too long before headsets hit the shelves.