It seems that the VR and AR pendulum is swinging back to the smartphone side of things. Headsets started out as hulking boxes strapped to your head and wired to a computer but, thanks to Google, some got the idea of shoving a smartphone into that box instead and calling it a day. Realizing the limitations of phones, headset makers like HTC moved away towards standalone devices but may now be moving back to smartphone-powered gear, this time for XR glasses.
Qualcomm calls these “XR Viewers” as they can either be used for VR or AR, depending on their design. What makes these promised class of devices from previous XR hardware is that they are powered by phones that don’t run the risk of burning your head. Instead, these phones can remain safely in their pockets or shirt while still tethered to a smaller and less obnoxious-looking headset via a USB-C cable.
That’s the proposition Qualcomm has made and now HTC is jumping on board to bring its Vive Wave platform to the formula. Vive already supports both PC-based and standalone headsets, making this its latest incarnation. Unlike Vive’s first-party hardware, however, HTC will have to contend with a wide variety of devices made by other manufacturers, which is where Qualcomm’s XR standardization efforts come in.
More than just expressing support for it, however, HTC is also welcoming content developers through its Wave Developer Awards. The program was established to entice developers with prize money or VR devices to produce content for the Vive platform. In theory, this means that those Viveport apps and games should also work on the upcoming first batch of XR Viewers.
Of course, all of that has yet to take form and it has been more than a year since Qualcomm first revealed its grand XR plan. Those XR glasses are still coming in early 2021 at the latest. Of course, Qualcomm’s XR proposition relies heavily on the speed of 5G networks that also have yet to roll out widely in the first place.