Chip manufacturer Qualcomm is promoting a platform for smartphone-based virtual and advanced reality headsets based on 5G networks, as well as partners such as Acer, LG and Sprint. The company announced plans today at Mobile World Congress, saying it will help launch 2019 mobile VR and AR headsets (collectively "XR").
Qualcomm will set up an "XR-optimized" certification program For phones using Snapdragon 855 processors, this means they will work with any headset in this ecosystem. So far, there are two officially supported viewers: the Acer OJO, a virtual reality headset announced last August, and the Nreal Light Mixed Reality glasses, which was unveiled at CES in January. More will be released this year, including some from the VR company Pico, and Qualcomm is using an existing accelerator program to promote the development of XR headsets.
Unlike Qualcomm's former VR-specific ecosystem, the company has not provided a single reference design for Partners. The Acer OJO and Nreal Light are very different looking products, and the OJO was first announced as a Windows Mixed Reality device. The unifying theme is that all of these VR and AR viewers have their own displays, but apps can be done over a phone using a USB-C cable to combine the benefits of connected and mobile headsets.
This No New Concept – In 2016, LG introduced a USB-C wired VR headset. Here, Qualcomm promises that 5G networks will allow carriers with higher quality media to flow, making the devices more attractive than before. "Mobile XR has the potential to be as big as the smartphone as an opportunity for Qualcomm," said Hugo Swart, director of product management, to reporters. The company emphasized "how 5G smartphones can be used to increase the reach of the experience."
A handful of network service providers have confirmed Qualcomm's efforts; Its partners include the American airline Sprint, Australian Telecom Telstra, the Korean providers SK Telecom and LG U + and the Swiss company Swisscom. Qualcomm suggests that these companies, as well as phone manufacturers, can benefit from hardware that demonstrates the benefits of 5G networks.
However, these networks are still at a very early stage of rollout, and it is not clear that people should do so for a while buying 5G phones; At the moment, the "5G" service is more of a nonsense than a real upgrade. Qualcomm also did not make an incredibly strong argument to buy the headsets of Acer and Nreal right at the beginning.
VR has at least a relatively large catalog of games and video apps. However, as a mass market device, AR is still largely untested – AR companies like Norths for the end user are having difficulties, and sophisticated devices like the HoloLens are purely business oriented. The glasses on the phone can be lighter than their self-contained counterparts, but they still require display hardware and often cameras, which makes them a bit clunky.
Swart says it's worth buying first-generation AR goggles A hands-free device in places like the subway, "basically in a scenario where even your smartphone does not have much room." And Nreales Glasses received praise for their relatively unobtrusive design and high quality display at CES. However, this is still a pretty niche case for a $ 1,000 device. (Qualcomm had no details about the price range for its XR devices.)
It's still good to know that Qualcomm and its partners are looking for a variety of devices that are largely compatible with new Android phones. VR and AR are expected to benefit from the increased bandwidth of 5G whenever these technologies prove to be suitable for the public.