Yesterday we learned that Google is teaming up with Qualcomm to produce a new line of standalone VR headsets, made in partnership with companies like HTC and Lenovo. But what’s actually powering these headsets?
As we suspected, the headsets run on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 VR platform, which wasn’t outright stated at yesterday’s I/O keynote speech. We wrote about the 835 as a processor for phones at CES 2017 back in January. There the company stated that its new processor was designed specifically for VR, boosting areas like visual fidelity and audio while combating other areas like latency. It was also said that the chip could be used for 6 degrees of freedom (6DOF) tracking.
Since then Qualcomm revealed an updated version of its own reference design for a standalone VR headset (pictured above) that used the 835 too. It featured a 2560×1440 AMOLED display, 6DoF tracking, eye tracking, foveated rendering and and even hand-tracking by way of Leap Motion integration. Which, if any, of these features are included in the reference design now that Qualcomm has partnered with Google remains unclear.
We’ve physically walked around with the 835’s inside-out tracking, but wording for these new headsets has steered clear of implying you can do that. We’ve only seen phrases like “lean” and “dodge” used thus far.
For comparison, Google’s first Daydream-ready phone, the Pixel, uses the Snapdragon 821, so you can expect a bump in processing power for Daydream in standalone devices.
There’s still a lot to learn about this partnership, then. Will Qualcomm still be pursuing independent partnerships with manufacturers, or will all of the devices that use the reference design end up supporting Daydream, Google’s mobile VR platform? Can we expect screen type and resolution to be the same?
Hopefully we’ll have answers to these questions and more at Google I/O gets underway again later today.