CES 2019: Qualcomm’s Mystery VR Headset Offers Twice The Pixels Of Vive Pro

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Qualcomm’s new VR headset shares many similarities with the HTC Vive Comsos. 

CES 2019 has been chock full of exciting VR and AR announcements, including the unexpected reveal of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon powered VR headset that boasts twice the pixels of the Vive Pro.

The VR device doesn’t have an actual name, and there seems to be some speculation regarding whether or not the mystery device is a redesigned prototype of Acer’s OJO headset. Whatever it is, Qualcomm isn’t talking, referring to it as simply a ‘new reference headset.’ Interestingly enough, the headset shares several similarities to HTC’s recently announced Vive Cosmos, giving us a possible glimpse of what we can expect from HTC’s upcoming device.

The Vive Cosmos – which is HTC’s first product to operate on the company’s new Vive Reality System platform – will feature 6DoF movement, inside-out tracking, a flip-up visor, as well as support for VR both ‘at home or on-the-go.’ The headset will also house what the company refers to as their “sharpest screen yet,” featuring “real RGB displays.” Beyond these facts, the details surrounding the Vive Cosmos are a tad fuzzy. This is where Qualcomm’s VR headset could help shine some light on the situation.

What we do know is that both devices use a USB-C connector to tether themselves to a smartphone or a PC and will take advantage of 5G networks. They even share a very similar design, including a flip-up visor and detachable headphones.

Qualcomm’s VR headset feature LCD displays running up to 90Hz with a resolution of 2,160 x 2,160 per-eye, which compared to the Vive Pro’s display running at 1,440 x 1,600, will make a huge difference in regards to user experience.

In an interview with VRScout, Tony Vitallo, a AR/VR hardware expert and technology futurist who runs the website Skarredghost.com said, “I think the prototype shown by Qualcomm will actually be very close to what you’ll see with the Vive Cosmos,” adding, “I have only some doubts on the LCD displays, usually HTC will use AMOLED displays for their VR headsets.”

HTC and Qualcomm have partnered together in the past, collaborating on the Vive Focus, HTC’s first standalone headset. In that case, both the Focus and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 reference headset had their own fare share of similarities.

“I think that the Cosmos shows how VR companies are trying different approaches to see what is the best form factor that best sticks with consumers,” continues Vitallo. “We now have cheap mobile headsets, high quality mobile headsets, complicated PC headsets, easy-to-install PC headsets, 3DoF standalones, 6DoF standalones and now finally, a smartphone-tethered headset.”

Image Credit: Qualcomm

This, according to Vitallo, will be the disruptor that pushes us closer towards 5G networks; towards a future where VR content could be streamed directly to the headset, “leaving the headset as a dull visualizer while all content is computed on the cloud.”

The flip side of a smartphone-based VR experience is that mobile headsets aren’t as appreciated as standalones or tethered headsets such as the Rift or Vive, and have struggled overall to find major market success; due primarily to a lack of strong content hindered by limited interactivity.

But perhaps all this will change with 5G networks pushing cloud based VR experiences to devices such as the HTC Cosmos or Qualcomm’s ‘new reference headset’.

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