Qualcomm announces the Snapdragon 845 VR development kit

GDC 2018 is in full swing this week, and a number of companies have divulged new information on games and software that they’ve been working on for months. Qualcomm is one of these companies, and today announced a new Snapdragon 845 VR development kit that it says will help pave the way for more immersive standalone VR experiences.

One of the new features present in the Snapdragon 845 mobile platform is 6DoF SLAM, which stands for six degrees of freedom (6DoF) with simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM). This gives the user the ability to freely walk around a room without being constrained to any one place and have their movement mirrored in the virtual world, which should drastically up immersion in VR experiences. While desktop-based experiences need cables and external tracking solutions to map where you move in a space, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 can do that all within the SoC.

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Another major benefit of the Snapdragon 845 development platform is support for foveated rendering techniques on Qualcomm’s Adreno GPU. This renders areas you are looking at in full resolution while leaving out-of-focus areas at a lower resolution to save on rendering power and keep frame rates high. A particularly useful and important trick in products with more limited GPU horsepower. Qualcomm has partnered with Tobii to enable their EyeCore eye tracking algorithms in supported headsets, aiding more demanding games in developing smooth, realistic experiences.

The Snapdragon 845 also enables a new boundary system, which gives developers the data necessary to visualize how much space their app is going to take in the real world, and constrain the player to those boundaries. This should also help developers manage things like notifications and videos within their app, and should keep users from needing more space than is physically available to them.

Qualcomm has also announced that the company is partnering with HTC to support ViveWave, a set of API’s aiming to help create content optimized for Snapdragon hardware across OEM’s, while also helping to promote a path to full Vive-based VR gaming for potential users.

Qualcomm says its Snapdragon 845 SDK and reference HMD should be launching in the second quarter of 2018, though we don’t know the price or availability.

Stay tuned as we bring you all the latest news from GDC and beyond.

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