When it comes to mobile VR and AR headsets, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips are dominating the space, with every major mobile headset launched so far this year built on the company’s Snapdragon 821 or 835 chips. And while those existing chips are also found in smartphones, Qualcomm today is announcing XR1, a new chip specifically built for AR and VR devices, which the company is calling its “first dedicated XR platform.”

Today at a press event in Silicon Valley, Qualcomm unveiled their Snapdragon XR1 platform, which the company says is their first which is specifically aimed at low cost AR and VR devices. Qualcomm says that XR1 is made for “high-quality” XR devices (low-end, like Oculus Go), a distinction they make against “premium” devices (high-end like Vive Focus). So XR1 isn’t about bringing the most powerful or feature-rich devices to market, but rather to enable affordable, “mainstream” devices.

On that front, the company says that HTC, Vuzix, and Pico are already developing products based on XR1.

XR1 integrates Qualcomm Technologies’ heterogeneous compute architecture, including the ARM-based multicore Central Processing Unit (CPU), vector processor, Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) and Qualcomm AI Engine. Other key features include an advanced XR software service layer, machine learning, the Snapdragon XR Software Development Kit (SDK) and Qualcomm Technologies connectivity and security technologies.

And while today we generally think of low-end VR systems as those that don’t have full 6DOF tracking, Qualcomm says that XR1 is capable of supporting both 3DOF and 6DOF tracking for head and hands, depending upon what hardware makers choose to do with the platform.

Qualcomm’s Hugo Swart introduces the XR1 chip at a press event in Silicon Valley. | Image courtesy Qualcomm

Qualcomm is quite bullish about the future of XR and immersive computing. The company has enabled a large part of the mobile XR market already thanks to its efforts toward making it easy for OEMs to bring XR products quickly to market. The company has codified those efforts into an ‘HMD Accelerator’ program which provides hardware makers with access to XR reference devices and connects them with manufacturers capable of quickly bringing those devices to market.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 VRDK to Offer Ultrasonic 6DOF Controller Tracking

Though the XR market is still young, XR1 is a long term bet on Qualcomm’s part, and an effort to capture (and enable) a market which the company believes will comprise 186 million mobile XR devices by 2023.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • oompah

    Good to see the VR efforts in making
    However Qualcomm has become a maga company
    maga maga hahha

  • MarquisDeSang

    VR is improving slowly because brilliant minds like Palmer Luckey who are right wing white males (like all very high energy IQ), are daily oppressed by our feminist society. Without visionaries like Palmer Luckey, there would not be VR today. Remember, Palmer Luckey was kicked out of Oculus because he supported our Great President Trump. VR must be taken back in charge by briliants minds again, not some diversity bull…. Make VR Great Again.

    • anony

      go die somewhere. He was right to be forced out of Oculus for supporting that train wreck. You Jean can take your politics and go die.

      • sfmike

        And shove sleaze ball Luckey and lying Trump up your……

      • MosBen

        It’s also fascinating to think that someone believes that Palmer Luckey is just sitting on ideas for implementing foveated rendering, inside out tracking of controllers, etc., that nobody else is thinking of, and that he could unleash them if only he wasn’t such a victim. I mean, why not start a Kickstarter, or go work for a company operating outside of the Silicon Valley spotlight? Is he holding back his brilliance out of spite? What a poor, wounded snowflake!

      • Andrew Jakobs

        It’s never good if an employee is forced out due to his/her political views.. I don’t think Trump was a good idea, but nor was Hillary Clinton, so if you supported that witch, you should be fired on the spot for supporting her……………..
        But it went a bit deeper than just supporting Trump, internetmorons were screaming about him donating some money to a meme maker, which turned out to be rather right-winged..
        I though the US was a free country, but ofcourse that’s only if you’re voting for those lefties (which a lot of times are even worse then those righties)..

  • Will this be part of Oculus Go 2?