Qualcomm Snapdragon VR820
Qualcomm hopes to see the first headsets based on its design on the market by early next year Qualcomm

Qualcomm has announced an ambitious new virtual reality headset powered by its Snapdragon 820 platform that it hopes will form the basis of VR headsets from other manufacturers. Called the Snapdragon VR820 and created in partnership with Chinese electronics firm Goertek, the self-contained device will be licensed to companies so they can build their own headsets using Qualcomm's tech.

Much like Intel's Project Alloy and Alcatel's Vision headset, which was also announced at IFA this week, the Snapdragon VR820 is a standalone device that works independently from a smartphone or PC. The headset contains a custom 64-bit Kyro CPU and offers a pin-sharp resolution of 1440 x 1440 per eye, aping the 1080 x 1200 screens offered by the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. It also uses Qualcomm's Adreno 530 GPU for "next-generation console-quality" graphics and boasts a refresh rate of 70Hz.

What makes the headset unique, however, is that it uses eye-tracking to detect head movement and position, rather than external sensors: two cameras on the inside of the goggles pointed at the wearer's eyeballs and another two facing outwards, which will allow the headset to run augmented reality applications.

This will be combined with the standard gyroscope and accelerometers to offer six degrees of movement tracking: up/down, left/right and forward/backward.

The Snapdragon VR820 will be licensed out to manufacturing partners before the end of the year, with Qualcomm predicting, somewhat ambitiously, that the first headsets based on its design will be on the market by early 2017. The company hasn't name-dropped any partners yet, although one possibility is that Qualcomm plans to target its design toward manufacturers developing headsets for Google's Daydream platform. That said, the tech could theoretically be adopted by anyone, regardless of platform.

Anthony Murray, senior vice president and general manager of Qualcomm's IoT division, said: "The Snapdragon VR820 integrates key technologies and features for an exceptional VR experience and provides a springboard for OEMs and developers to usher in the next generation of truly portable and untethered devices that we think are necessary for mass consumer adoption of VR."