When consumers hear of 5G and its blazing fast speeds, most will probably think about Netflix and downloads. 5G’s full potential, however, isn’t limited to just that, of course, and it can enable a whole host of new experiences, including everyone’s favorite AR/VR/XR. It’s no surprise then that Qualcomm is pushing smartphones powered by its 5G technologies to drive the next wave of lightweight XR headsets that it says will finally arrive sometime within the next year.
This XR Viewer spiel isn’t exactly new. In fact, it has been more than a year since Qualcomm first announced its efforts to create an ecosystem around such headsets that will be driven by Qualcomm-powered smartphones. With the launch of the Snapdragon 855 and, now the Snapdragon 865, Qualcomm is finally already to push its OEM and network partners to finally make that a reality.
The headsets Qualcomm is promising covers a wide variety of designs from a number of brands, including ASUS, OnePlus, and OPPO, just to name a small few. Some of these XR Viewers look more like smaller versions of popular VR headsets while some do look like large sunglasses, giving credence to its use of augmented or mixed reality rather than just VR.
Unlike the smartphone-powered VR headsets of old like Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR, the smartphones powering these XR Viewers won’t have to be placed on the headset itself and weigh users’ heads. Instead, they connect via a USB-C cable to a smartphone that might safely be in your pocket or stuck to your body. Yes, despite all that talk about 5G, the XR Viewer and smartphone still connect via a cable.
The 5G part will, of course, come into play when streaming data to those XR applications, which would need the latency-free speeds that 5G promises to deliver. Of course, that also requires a lot more power from the phones which is why only Snapdragon 855 and 865 phones are supported, leaving the 5G-capable Snapdragon 765 out in the cold. When these XR Viewers will finally come is still unknown as are the price tags that will come with them.