Virtual Bulk

Will Virtual Reality Headsets Ever Look Sleek?

At the IFA 2016 tradeshow in Berlin, Qualcomm released a new reference design for a stand-alone virtual reality headset. Its Snapdragon VR820 is a platform based on the Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 processor. It has integrated eye tracking, two front-facing cameras for see-through applications and a series of sensors including microphones, a gyroscope, an accelerometer and a magnetometer.

Qualcomm said in its statement that all of these specifications are packaged together in an “elegant, sleek and comfortable design.”

Alcatel also released a new stand-alone virtual reality headset at IFA 2016. Called Vision, the headset is expected to retail at a price starting around $560. Alcatel’s Vision device contains all the sensors and battery in its body, which is well padded for comfortable wearing.

Like other virtual reality wearables such as HTC’s Vive and the Oculus Rift, these are big devices to strap to a user’s head. There’s no fashion element here, and as enjoyable and impressive as the virtual reality experience can be, there’s an odd feeling when wearing one of these headsets.

The weight of the devices is also considerable and another reason why a dedicated virtual reality headset cannot be used for a very long session. The problem will be even more profound in augmented reality devices, which are mostly targeted at enterprises, especially if they are deployed in operations where people will have to wear them for hours.

This will be a difficult design to alter and it will require some new components to be trialled. But with the rise of virtual reality — CCS Insight expects 100 million augmented and virtual reality devices will be sold in 2020 — it’s not difficult to imagine that there’s some company out there working on breaking the mould. Let’s only hope.