The Snapdragon 835 will be powering this year's flagship phones, but Qualcomm is increasingly looking to virtual reality as a growth driver. To that effect, Qualcomm included several features in the Snapdragon 835 that make it an ideal platform for mobile VR, including 15ms motion-to-photon latency and six-degrees-of-freedom for precise motion tracking.
The company has now introduced a VR development kit, which has a head mounted display (HMD) powered by the Snapdragon 835 and an upgraded VR software development kit. The reference design headset allows users to experience virtual reality untethered, offering a 2560x1440 AMOLED display split between both eyes, six-degrees of freedom (6DoF) motion tracking via two monochromatic cameras with fish-eye lenses, two monochromatic VGA global shutter cameras with depth sensing, and a host of sensors.
The HMD also packs in 4GB of RAM, 64GB storage, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and USB-C connectivity, Qualcomm's Aqstic audio codec, and a trackpad on the right side for controlling the interface. Talking about the trackpad, Qualcomm has also announced that it is partnering with Leap Motion to integrate its hand-tracking tech into the platform.
The integration lets Qualcomm to render hand movements with low latency, essentially allowing you to use your hands as the controller in virtual reality. Qualcomm will demonstrate the technology later this week at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco as well as Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Qualcomm won't bring its HMD to market, with the headset instead serving as a reference design for OEMs to build upon. The dev kit itself will be available to developers in Q2 2017, and Qualcomm is rolling out a HMD Accelerator Program that's designed to lower the barrier for entry for manufacturers looking to build VR products.
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Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.