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Qualcomm's Snapdragon XR1 Aims To Pave The Way For Stand-Alone AR And VR Headsets

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Qualcomm unveiled its newest Snapdragon XR1 platform. It is the first dedicated chip for AR and VR devices, making them more accessible and affordable for consumers.  ( Qualcomm Snapdragon | YouTube )

Qualcomm unveils its new Snapdragon XR1 platform, built to make VR headsets more affordable. However, unlike Qualcomm's previous reference designs, it's for AR as well.

Qualcomm Introduces First Dedicated Chip For AR And VR

The Snapdragon XR1 is the first chipset to have dedicated support for AR and VR, which Qualcomm refers to as "Extended Reality" or XR. Specifically, the company is aiming to make XR more convenient and accessible to everyone.

"Some of the headsets out there are expensive and not as easy to set up," said Hugo Swart, head of XR business management, Qualcomm.

"Not everyone has the latest and greatest smartphone."

With the minimum requirements for immersion, the XR1 is not as capable as the Snapdragon 845 XR platform. Hiren Bhinde, XR product management director, describes it as high quality compared to the premium-quality Snapdragon 845.

It is targeted toward consumers and manufacturers that do not need the higher memory bandwidth and graphics for their devices. The XR1 is a low-cost solution for devices that consumers think are too pricey.

Snapdragon XR1 vs. Snapdragon 845 XR

Snapdragon XR1-equipped devices only have three degrees of freedom (3DoF), which means they will be able to track the user's head. They don't have eye tracking or room scale tracking and positioning capabilities like the 845 devices with 6DoF.

According to Qualcomm, XR1 devices are targeting video-centric experiences instead, such as a 360-degree 2D video and some simple activities. They also have regular controllers without Ultrasonic and hand tracking features, which can be found on 845 devices.

Snapdragon XR1 Specs And Features

The Snapdragon XR1 platform uses Qualcomm Technologies' heterogeneous computing, which ensures a more efficient performance. It has an ARM-based CPU, a vector processor, a GPU from the Adreno family, and the Qualcomm AI engine.

Thanks to this, the XR1 is able to support Ultra HD 4K resolution at up to 60 frames per second, 3D overlays, dual displays, and leading graphics APIs, such as OpenCL, OpenGL, and Vulkan. The platform also uses Qualcomm's audio technologies, including the 3D Audio Suite, Aqstic, and the aptX Audio to enable the "always on, always-listening" assistance plus Bluetooth playback.

Qualcomm revealed its initial list of partners that are already working on XR1 devices, including HTC Vive, Meta, Vuzix, and Pico with more to come. An announcement from these companies is yet to come, though.

With the Snapdragon XR1, AR and VR headsets with a more affordable price tag are within reach of the average consumer.

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