The Snapdragon 845 VRDK is the second generation of an open platform reference design HMD from Qualcomm. The headset has integrated Vivewave support for manufacturers already coded in. The virtual reality development kit (VRDK) includes the reference design headset and a new SDK, all helping make standalone VR technology more accessible for developers, consumers and manufacturers.

The standalone headset brings a number of noteworthy advancements to the table, including 6 DoF controller support, 6 DoF room-scale tracking, eye tracking technology powered by Tobii, an improved boundary system, and new foveated rendering technology. The device is powered by Qualcomm’s newest processing chip, the Snapdragon 845.

Built to be able to be used by manufacturing partners from HTC to Oculus and developers using the Google Daydream platform, the Snapdragon 845 VRDK will ultimately help usher in more powerful standalone headsets with more immersive and realistic interactions.

Eye tracking has emerged within the last couple of years as a real solution. Eye tracking technology not only allows for headset manufacturers to improve automatically adjusting IPD capabilities but also provides an even more realistic immersive display.

With two front-facing cameras, the design also supports inside-out tracking for full room-scale movement, meaning the tedious setup of current outside-in room-scale trackers of HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are not needed. An improved boundary system also prevents walking into walls. The tracking system can locate a user’s position and map their location in VR based on boundary limits in the actual world.

Currently, almost all display technologies render and present images to the highest focal quality across the board so that no matter where the viewer is looking, they can get the best image possible. Meanwhile, our eyes can only focus on a small area directly where our pupils are focused, called a fovea, meaning that the rest of our vision is slightly blurred and all that rendering goes to some waste. With eye tracking technology, headsets can track the real-time pupillary focal point and boost those renderings for a more realistic VR experience, while still reducing the overall load on the processor and ultimately providing a smoother, more efficient experience. Dubbed Adrena Foveation by Qualcomm, the technology isn’t completely new to the entertainment VR industry, but the Snapdragon 845’s implementation is seen as a huge improvement and a much more widespread application.

6DoF is nothing new for VR, although it’s been elusive in the consumer space because of the limited availability of hardware which features the technology. With its incorporation into a reference design HMD for OEM’s, 6DoF should become much more commonplace.

With standalone HMDs on the rise, it’s not surprising Qualcomm would take it upon themselves to create a base model for the rest of the industry to adopt and adapt for their own purposes. The reference design takes standalone VR from the clumsy mix of budding designs and hardware available today and instead offers a relatively polished and clean package to consumers seeking a better standard. It would seem Qualcomm intends to deliver on their pledge to accelerate the development of head-mounted VR displays by OEM’s - and the Snapdragon 845 VRDK is just one manifestation of that pledge.