Qualcomm shows off standalone VR headset reference design powered by the Snapdragon 845. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Qualcomm has unveiled a new virtual reality reference platform that’s being powered by the Snapdragon 845 processor. It introduces significant upgrades and improvements to the Snapdragon Mobile VR platform and is seen as a huge step forward for standalone VR headset.

“We continue to deliver new advancements in technologies for our customers to utilize as they aim to capitalize on the growing standalone and smartphone VR industry,” Qualcomm’s head of virtual and augmented reality business Hugo Swart said. “With the Snapdragon 845 Mobile VR Platform, we’re supporting the next wave of smartphone and standalone VR headsets for our customers and developers to create the immersive applications and experiences of the future.”

The reference device (seen below) is based on the latest version of the Snapdragon Mobile VR platform. The headset is being powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor and Qualcomm says that it will be able to offer more than twice as much display throughout when compared to the VR platform powered by the Snapdragon 835.

Qualcomm also says that it will offer 30 percent faster performance while using 30 percent less power. The Snapdragon 845 uses the latest Adreno 630 visual processing subsystem. Another innovation here is the inclusion of Adreno Foveation, which combines graphics rendering and eye tracking. This allows standalone mobile VR headsets to understand where the user is looking to provide the sharpest possible visuals.

A VR headset powered by the Snapdragon 845 will have internal cameras that will track where the user’s eyes are looking. This helps the VR headset to know where exactly it needs to render out the highest possible resolution. Not only does this help in rending graphics, but it can also increase battery life or allow higher resolution displays.

The most important thing here is that the Snapdragon 845 will allow standalone VR headsets to come equipped with 2K resolution displays for both eyes. The Snapdragon 845 mobile VR headset will also work with popular VR platforms like Google Daydream, Oculus and HTC Vive.

“HTC has consistently delivered VR experiences with the highest quality possible catering to the industry’s most discerning users,” president of HTC Vive China Alvin Wan Graylin said. “By collaborating with Qualcomm and leveraging our internal hardware and software innovations, HTC has been able to deliver an uncompromising VR experience with the Vive Focus premium standalone VR headset.”

Qualcomm will share more information for VR controllers based on this Snapdragon 845 design, but for now, the company says that it will support vision-based options. TechCrunch speculates that this may be referring to something similar to what Microsoft is doing with its Windows Mixed Reality controllers.