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Qualcomm Shows Off Its Own Virtual Reality Headset

Chipset maker Qualcomm unveiled its own virtual reality headset Thursday, aiming for a sweet spot between high-end devices like the Oculus Rift and cheaper mobile headsets like Samsung’s Gear VR.

The Snapdragon VR820 is an all-in-one headset that works without an external PC or a mobile phone. It offers positional tracking that is supposed to enable room-scale VR experiences similar to the HTC Vive, but without the need to rely on external tracking devices. Qualcomm’s headset also uses eye tracking, which should in theory make it easier to navigate through menus and play complex games without the need for external input devices.

Qualcomm aims to have first Snapdragon VR820 headsets available for sale by the end of the year. But as the not exactly memorable name suggests, this device isn’t actually meant to sell millions of units. Instead, it’s a reference platform, which is supposed to demonstrate to other hardware manufacturers what they can do with Qualcomm’s chips.

The company said Thursday that commercial products based on the Snapdragon VR820 reference design could become available soon, but didn’t share any further details.

Qualcomm isn’t the only company looking to build a standalone headset. Chipset competitor Intel unveiled its own headset earlier this summer, and a number of Chinese manufacturers has been experimenting with self-contained VR devices as well.

These efforts will have to compete with cheaper mobile headsets, which should get a big boost with the introduction of Google’s Daydream platform this fall. Qualcomm hasn’t said yet what the price of the Snapdragon VR820 and similar devices is going to be, only suggesting that it may be about the price of a tablet.

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