OnQ Blog

Virtual reality is here. And it’s amazing!

Mar 14, 2016

Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

In a previous blog post, I explained how fully immersive experiences with our devices can be achieved only by simultaneously focusing on the broader dimensions of visual quality, sound quality, and intuitive interactions. When you think of immersive experiences, virtual reality (VR) should immediately pop into your head. VR will provide the ultimate level of immersion, creating a sense of physical presence in real or imagined worlds. It is this unique ability that is creating so much excitement from consumers and across industries.

Unprecedented experiences and unlimited possibilities

The excitement about VR stems from what it can do. VR will bring a new paradigm for how we interact with the world, changing how we play, learn, and communicate. It will offer unprecedented experiences and unlimited possibilities that allow us to live out our dreams on-demand. We’ll be able to be anywhere and do anything, with anyone.

Imagine being virtually transported to the best seat in the arena at the World Cup finals, or to a classroom where you can learn from the best professors across the world, or to a special family event. Our imagination and creativity are the only limits to VR’s possibilities.

The time is right for VR

The promise of VR has excited us for decades, but making VR a reality has proven to be challenging. However, the time is right for VR. Ecosystem drivers and technology advancements are aligning to make VR possible. The key ecosystem pieces include device availability, software infrastructure, and content creation and availability. Exponential improvements in technology, such as multimedia technologies, display and sensor technologies, and power and thermal efficiency are making it possible to create high-quality, comfortable, and affordable VR headsets.

The mobile industry, in particular, is accelerating VR adoption. The mobile ecosystem has characteristics—innovation at scale, rapid design cycles, and mass adoption, for example—that make the proliferation of new technologies very feasible. And many of the technology advancements mentioned above have been driven by smartphones. For example, displays now have significantly increased pixel density, power efficiency, and visual quality to meet smartphone requirements. Furthermore, the VR ecosystem development will mirror what happened in the mobile industry.

VR has extreme requirements

Truly immersive VR places extreme requirements on several dimensions of the three pillars of immersion: visual quality, sound quality, and intuitive interactions. Adding to the complexity, mobile VR requires full immersion at low power and thermals so that the headset is sleek, lightweight, and stylish.

For visual quality, we want pixels so realistic that they are eventually indistinguishable from the real world. To accomplish this, we need extreme pixel quantity and quality, a 360-degree spherical view, and stereoscopic displays.

For sound quality, we want sound so accurate that it is true to life and completely in synch with the visuals. To accomplish this, we need high-resolution audio and 3D positional audio.

And we want interactions so intuitive and responsive that they become second nature, and you forget that you are even dealing with an interface. To accomplish this, we need natural user interfaces, minimal latency, and precise motion tracking.

It is the ability to stimulate our human senses with realistic feedback that convinces our brain that the VR is real. The closer we can come to that, the better the VR experience will be.

Qualcomm Technologies is uniquely positioned

Qualcomm Technologies is uniquely positioned to support superior mobile VR experiences by designing for the extreme requirements of fully immersive VR. By taking a system approach and custom designing specialized engines across the SoC, Qualcomm Snapdragon processors are engineered to provide an efficient heterogeneous computing solution that is optimized from end-to-end. For example, the Snapdragon 820 processor is designed to meet the VR processing demands within the thermal and power constraints of a wearable VR headset. Along with the 820, Qualcomm Technologies recently announced the Snapdragon VR SDK, which will be available in the second quarter of 2016. Looking forward, we will continue to make improvements in visual quality, sound quality, and intuitive interactions so that VR experiences become more immersive and VR headsets become sleeker, lighter, and more fashionable.

Want to learn more? Be sure to check out our white paper, website, and webinar on VR.


Qualcomm Snapdragon is a product of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.


Opinions expressed in the content posted here are the personal opinions of the original authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Qualcomm Incorporated or its subsidiaries ("Qualcomm"). Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries. The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be an endorsement or representation by Qualcomm or any other party. This site may also provide links or references to non-Qualcomm sites and resources. Qualcomm makes no representations, warranties, or other commitments whatsoever about any non-Qualcomm sites or third-party resources that may be referenced, accessible from, or linked to this site.

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