Making Virtual Reality Truly Immersive

Monday 1/30/17 11:38am
Posted By Mike Roberts
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Snapdragon and Qualcomm branded products are products of
Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

Virtual Reality has been touted for the past several years as the next big thing – and its history goes back even further than many of us realize (the first prediction of VR goes back to a science fiction story from the 1930s!) – but now we may have reached an inflection point for VR.

With the advances in technology fueled by the mobile industry, much of what was considered sci-fi (even in the previous incarnations of VR) is now becoming reality. Life-like visual and audio processing, movement and positional tracking as well as haptic and integrated sensory feedback are realities today making VR immersive in ways only imagined before. 

Creating immersive VR experiences involves bringing together these interactive technologies that are intuitive for the user – so it feels like you are there, practically reaching out and grabbing the controls of that virtual vehicle. And perhaps not surprisingly, we expect that the best VR experiences will be built on mobile technologies to offer people a truly untethered experience. This means that the devices we are using become a part of the world we’re immersed in instead of distracting from it.

During CES Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. demonstrated “Power Rangers: Zords Rising”, an immersive mobile VR experience that allowed users to gear up and experience what it’s like to be part of the Power Rangers team. This demo highlighted the power of the new Snapdragon® 835 processor, which is designed to deliver immersive VR and augmented reality (AR) experiences.

For instance, the new Snapdragon 835 processor is engineered to support 6-degrees of freedom movement – the ability to translate through the virtual environment forward/backward, up/down, left/right and with pitch, roll, and yaw, crucial for creating a realistic sense of being inside the virtual world. And with real-world movement one needs life-like visual processing to deliver the smooth, visually rich experiences similar to our own natural vision. This is why we built sub-18 millisecond latency and 4K display at 60 frames per second in the Snapdragon 835. Likewise, in the real world, sound has a three dimensional profile that we use to orient ourselves. Therefore, the Snapdragon 835 supports 3D audio – VR has never sounded so good.

These are no small computational tasks. You might imagine (or have seen elsewhere) that achieving this degree of processing performance needs large, power hungry processors. The new Snapdragon is designed to deliver superior GPU and CPU performance per watt while also being 35% smaller than its predecessor. The smaller size and better performance means better immersion inside the virtual world and less distraction caused by the VR hardware in the real world – both are important when delivering compelling virtual experiences.

All of this is good news for developers, and even better news for those people who will be trying VR for the first time, as it means they won’t experience distractions like jerky movement, lag, or low resolution. And when built into an untethered, mobile experience – such as a headset – you can minimize the potential for device discomfort that would come from excess weight, heat or protruding wires.

Snapdragon processors and toolsets are designed to provide multi-processor computation coordination and energy management so that you can offer both an engaging VR performance as well as optimal device comfort.

When we put on our VR headsets, we gaze out at a world of opportunity for you to start developing your own VR experiences using the right immersive technologies to draw in your users and leave them craving more.

Are you ready to dive in and develop your own VR experience? Download our white paper, "Making Immersive Virtual Reality Possible in Mobile" to learn more; and be sure to have a look at the Snapdragon VR SDK.

For more ideas, take a look at Qualcomm’s announcements from CES.