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Qualcomm announces VR-targeted dev kit

Qualcomm is planning a brand new developers’ kit that focuses on unleashing the true VR potential of high-end mobile devices.

Published onMarch 14, 2016


To people who aren’t particularly involved in the tech world, the explosion of virtual reality seems to have come out of nowhere. However, those who have kept their finger to the pulse of Silicon Valley over the last few years have seen this revolution coming miles away. Among these long-sighted entities is the mobile chip manufacturer Qualcomm, who worked hard to ensure that their latest chipset, the Snapdragon 820, would be fully ready for mobile-powered VR when the time came. However, just having the power under the hood doesn’t mean much if developers can’t fully take advantage of everything the Snapdragon 820 has to offer. That’s why Qualcomm is planning a brand new developers’ kit that focuses on unleashing the true VR potential of high-end mobile devices.

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Those who have played around with mobile VR must concede that, while it’s impressive, there are still some visual quirks and bugs that can cast the user out of the experience. The technology is still relatively in its infancy, after all. But many of these issues are app-side rather than processor-side. Your phone may be capable of a fully immersive VR experience, but devs just don’t have the tools yet to efficiently make the changes they need to. The Qualcomm SDK will put a number of impressive technologies into devs’ hands from power management to VR layering (which improves virtual menu usage), fast motion to photon technology, and DSP sensor functionality.

The dev kit looks like it’ll be arriving sometime during Q2, but it can’t come soon enough. Developers are already chomping at the bit to be the next VR breakthrough, and with these tools on their side, consumers can only expect mobile VR to get better and better. Click the button below to read Qualcomm’s full press release and, as always, let us know your thoughts in the comments.

[press]SAN FRANCISCO, March 14, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) today announced that its subsidiary, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., has introduced a new virtual reality (VR) software development kit (SDK). The next generation of mobile virtual reality applications is complex, with extreme power consumption constraints and challenging performance requirements that must be met in order for the VR applications to become truly immersive. Advanced heterogeneous processors like the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 820 processor are capable of supporting immersive VR experiences, but can also be difficult to fully utilize without the right set of tools for developers. The new Snapdragon VR SDK is designed to abstract the complexity of immersive virtual reality and provide developers with access to optimized, advanced VR features, to simplify development and to help them attain improved VR performance and power efficiency with the Snapdragon 820 for Android smartphones and upcoming VR headsets. The SDK is expected to be available in the second quarter of 2016 through the Qualcomm Developer Network.


For the first time, many new technologies that are crucial for an optimal VR user experience will be supported in the Snapdragon VR SDK. These include:


DSP sensor fusion: Utilizing the full breadth of technologies built into Snapdragon 820, the SDK enables developers to create more responsive and immersive experiences by easily accessing the right combination of high frequency inertial data from gyroscopes and accelerometers via the Snapdragon Sensor Core and predictive head position processing with the Qualcomm® Hexagon™ DSP

Fast motion to photon: Supports asynchronous time warp with single buffer rendering for fast transformation of rendered images in 3D space, which helps reduce latency by up to 50% compared with not using the SDK

Stereoscopic rendering with lens correction: Supports 3D binocular vision with color correction and barrel distortion for improved visual quality of graphics and video, enhancing the overall VR experience

VR layering: Generation of menus, text, and other overlays so that they render correctly in a virtual world, reducing distortions that would otherwise make them difficult to read

Power management: Integration with the Qualcomm® Symphony System Manager SDK to provide cohesive CPU, GPU, and DSP power and performance management to help achieve stable frame rates for VR applications running in low-power, thermally-constrained devices – improving power efficiency compared to not using the SDK

“We’re providing advanced tools and technologies to help developers significantly improve the virtual reality experience for applications like games, 360 degree VR videos and a variety of interactive education and entertainment applications,” said Dave Durnil, senior director, engineering, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “VR represents a new paradigm for how we interact with the world, and we’re excited to help mobile VR developers more efficiently deliver compelling and high-quality experiences on upcoming Snapdragon 820 VR-capable Android smartphones and headsets.”[/press]

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