Mobile chipmaker Qualcomm has unveiled a virtual reality SDK to help developers create VR applications for Snapdragon 820-powered smartphones and upcoming headsets.

The software development kit, which will be made available in Q2 through the Qualcomm developer network, will let those creating virtual reality apps take full advantage of the 820 processor's numerous VR features. The kit's tools include:

  • DSP sensor fusion: Utilizing the full breadth of technologies built into Snapdragon 820, the SDK enables developers to create more responsive and immersive experiences by easily accessing the right combination of high frequency inertial data from gyroscopes and accelerometers via the Snapdragon Sensor Core and predictive head position processing with the Qualcomm Hexagon DSP
  • Fast motion to photon: Supports asynchronous time warp with single buffer rendering for fast transformation of rendered images in 3D space, which helps reduce latency by up to 50% compared with not using the SDK
  • Stereoscopic rendering with lens correction: Supports 3D binocular vision with color correction and barrel distortion for improved visual quality of graphics and video, enhancing the overall VR experience
  • VR layering: Generation of menus, text, and other overlays so that they render correctly in a virtual world, reducing distortions that would otherwise make them difficult to read
  • Power management: Integration with the Qualcomm Symphony System Manager SDK to provide cohesive CPU, GPU, and DSP power and performance management to help achieve stable frame rates for VR applications running in low-power, thermally-constrained devices - improving power efficiency compared to not using the SDK

Several new and upcoming smartphones use the Snapdragon 820, including the LG G5, some versions of the Samsung Galaxy S7, and the Xiaomi Mi 5. The chip is also tipped to appear in some future VR headsets.

"We're providing advanced tools and technologies to help developers significantly improve the virtual reality experience for applications like games, 360 degree VR videos and a variety of interactive education and entertainment applications," said David Durnil, senior director of engineering at Qualcomm.

"VR will be a new paradigm for how we interact with the world, and we're excited to help mobile VR developers more efficiently deliver compelling and high-quality experiences on upcoming Snapdragon 820 VR-capable Android smartphones and headsets."

Qualcomm's SDK kit should ultimately lead to an improvement in smartphone-powered virtual reality, especially when it comes to areas like graphics and latency. While the technology is a good option for those who want to experience VR without the need for an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, it still has a few issues, such as people feeling nauseous or dizzy, and little actual content.