« Previously: Virtual reality: A killer app in more ways than one  

Today’s most visually stunning VR headsets are tethered to PCs running the fastest GPUs you can plug into a wall socket. Intel and others are designing untethered versions for a better user experience.

VR is just the first step in what may be a 30-year road map, according to Leland. Augmented reality that blends the real and virtual worlds “will subsume VR, which will become a mode in AR someday,” he said.

The next major Snapdragon release aims to take a step down that road. It sports a new Adreno GPU core that improves the efficiency of memory access with greater use of compressed data.

Power-management algorithms will take more fine-grained actions in the new chip. Its video and display blocks will get an update supporting variable refresh rates “so you don’t update the display more than you need to,” Leland said.

The 5W power consumption envelope won’t change much. But Qualcomm will try to pack more into it.

“Developers want photorealism in apps, so they are going to push the limits,” Leland said. “They want to pack in as much visual processing as is safe, so I don’t know if handset temperatures will go down much.”

I asked whether the recent experience of the Galaxy Note 7 should give us pause. Leland responded that Samsung has some of the best engineers in the world, creating, among other innovations, the AMOLED displays that were born of some risky and speculative bets that now enable mobile VR.

“Every leader is going to push the edge, and every once in a while, we will find that edge,” he said.

Welcome to VR, and please strap on your seatbelts.

« Previously: Virtual reality: A killer app in more ways than one