Qualcomm Unveils Snapdragon XR2 5G Reference Design Headset

Last year Qualcomm Technologies revealed its new Snapdragon XR2 platform design with 5G and the next generation of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) devices in mind. Today, the company has taken that process by unveiling the first reference design.

As with any reference design, the idea is to help foster new products using the XR2 5G platform, with OEM’s able to make use of the extra power and functionality it offers. The designs cover all three technologies from a sleek looking, matt black VR headset to an MR device similar to Microsoft’s HoloLens. All the form factor were developed by Goertek.

As previously released the Snapdragon XR2 5G features a range of improvements on the previous generation. Qualcomm states that the reference design has 2x the CPU and GPU performance, 4x more video bandwidth, 6x higher resolution and 11x AI improvement. The platform can support up to 7 seven cameras, two internal, one for each eye for eye-tracking and four external cameras, two RGB cameras for MR experiences and two for head tracking. Manufacturers can use the reference design to assemble different configurations enlisting the seventh camera for facial/lip tracking or a second monochrome camera for controller tracking.

As Oculus Quest has proven customers want easy to use, wireless devices and 5G is expected to take that to the next stage. Headsets using Snapdragon XR2 5G shouldn’t need to worry about heavy onboard processing, limiting the quality of applications due to chip limitations. Qualcomm’s Boundless XR is an end-to-end solution using Edge Cloud rendering over 5G – the concept was previously shown in partnership with Zerolight – allowing some of the work to be offloaded to the cloud before returning to the headset, only possible using 5G’s low latency. The reference design can use Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC) via a 5G connection, or on a nearby PC using a 60-GHz wireless connection.

Other useful features of the reference design include an IR emitter for hand tracking and head tracking, allowing for simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) to coexist. It supports 3D audio, voice commands and 2Kx2K per eye dual panel LCD.

When it comes to when these new devices using Snapdragon XR2 5G will start appearing Hugo Swart, VP & GM of XR at Qualcomm said in a press briefing that: “We expect that this year, to have XR2-based products. I think the question is really will the first devices have 5G or not, I still cannot answer that but I’m confident that we’re going to see XR2-based products in the market this year.”

So 2020 could see some exciting standalone hardware arrive by the end of the year with the help of 5G. For further updates from Qualcomm, keep reading VRFocus.

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