Virtual Reality is the next big thing. The Sony PlayStation is coming out with its own VR headset in October and Microsoft’s Project Scorpio is coming out in 2017. The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are making the headlines while the HoloLens has been the center of attention for all things Microsoft. Yet all of that is damn expensive. The Vive costs $799 while the Oculus Rift is for $599 and the HoloLens developer version costs you $3000. And then you have to buy the software to run it and connect it to a computer or console that costs you again. Talk about emptying your wallet. To battle all that, Qualcomm is stepping in to the arena with its own, cheaper, Virtual Reality Headset. It’s called the VR820.
The headset is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor and features two 1440 x 1440 digital AMOLED displays. The headset features an eye tracker and a six axis motion tracker. There are two internal cameras for eye tracking and two external ones for basic AR experinces. It runs on a 70 Hz refresh rate compared to the 90 Hz featured on the Vive and the Rift. But that’s a small thing axed to give you a great price point. Qualcomm also claimed that inside out tracking is possible, i.e. using the external cameras for tracking instead of a sensor but since we haven’t seen the VR820 in action yet it’s not too wise to take them at their word.
The VR820 hasn’t officially been priced yet but Qualcomm said it’ll be priced the same as “high end tablets”. Now those usually go for $300 to $500 which, at its most expensive, is still $100 cheaper than the Oculus Rift. This puts it alongside cheap VR headsets like the Google Cardboard and its successor the Daydream.
The problem arises when you look at the fact that Qualcomm hasn’t got any partners on board. However, that probably won’t be for long since video game developers and software developers want to get their stuff in to the hands of as many people as possible and more likely than not, people will go for a cheaper alternative if they find one. Advantage Qualcomm.
Qualcomm also wants people to use their headset as a foundation to build on and create their own third party headsets while saving on Research and Development. They did something similar by releasing reference designs for smartphones that have helped many smartphone manufacturers in China come up with high quality, cheap handsets.
The VR820 will be available at the end of the year with commercial devices to follow shortly after in early 2017.