Qualcomm is untethering PC VR headsets — and pushing XR into the mainstream (QCOMM)


Qualcomm is ushering in a new category of extended reality (XR) headsets — “Boundless XR for PCs” — that negate the need for cables and tracking sensors. For context, Qualcomm includes VR, AR, and AI under the umbrella term XR.

FORECAST: Global VR Headset Shipments

The company optimized its existing Snapdragon 845 VR Reference Design intended for stand-alone headsets to include the “Boundless XR for PCs” headset category. Manufacturers can use Qualcomm’s reference design to build their own Boundless XR for PC headsets: Pico, for example, has already started doing this with its Pico Neo 2 device, which is expected to be released in the second half of this year.

The new Boundless XR for PC headset category is poised to push XR into the mainstream. Here’s why:

  • The hybrid nature is a sweet spot, combining the best of mobile and PC-powered headsets. Devices in this new category will be able to support the more immersive and high-quality experiences associated with PC-powered headsets, while also offering the benefits that come with stand-alone headsets. And since the stand-alone VR headset category captured nearly 21% of all VR headset shipments in Q3 2018, after only being introduced in the previous quarter, the ability to operate these new devices as stand-alone headsets should be attractive to consumers.
  • It resolves some of the chief issues with PC-powered headsets on the market today because it’s portable, lightweight, and has an easy set up process. The headset category eliminates the friction associated with device set up since it removes the need for cords, connectors, and accessories, which previously likely dissuaded consumers from repeatedly using their headsets. Moreover, consumers can now freely and easily move the device since they aren’t tied down.  
  • Lower latency from split processing should help enhance the user experience. The Boundless XR for PC headsets will offer motion to photon latency under 20 milliseconds. The addition of the on-board Snapdragon 845 enables it to take on some of the processing from the PC.

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