Snapdragon AR2 to Empower AR Devices, Qualcomm Says

Snapdragon AR2 to Empower AR Devices, Says Qualcomm – XR Today

The Immerse 2022 Miami Global Summit wrapped up on Wednesday, where some of the biggest players in the tech industry came together to explore the future of Web3 technologies. Qualcomm Technologies has remained at the forefront of developing leading solutions for the global virtual, augmented, mixed and extended reality (VR/AR/MR/XR) industry, with its latest solution designed for devices AR.

The San Diego, Calif.-based company has become synonymous with XR solutions capable of detaching head-mounted displays (HMDs) from the PC.

This gave companies access to standalone headsets with the latest specs as well as major support for software development through the company’s Snapdragon Spaces platform.

XR Today spoke to Brian Vogelsang, AR Product Manager at Qualcommon the sidelines of the event on ongoing updates with its latest product release, the Snapdragon AR2 platform.

The AR2 is intended to provide the smart glasses industry with an innovative, self-contained and elegant processing platform to deliver the next generation of smart glass devices.

XR Today: What were your biggest takeaways from IGS 2022 Miami?

Brian Vogelsang: My biggest lesson was the excitement across the industry. These two years have been difficult due to the pandemic.

The tech industry has responded by mobilizing as a community and as a group. It was amazing to get together with everyone and see a surge of interest and engagement.

XR Today: Qualcomm recently launched its Snapdragon AR device platform. What are its characteristics and what does it aim to achieve?

Brian Vogelsang: The AR2 is its first generational step in a series of AR-enabled processors. We wanted to help deliver lightweight, portable glasses with comfortable form factors, allowing people to use them for longer periods of time.

We also wanted to unlock this capability in AR smart glasses and spent time thinking about achieving those goals. Qualcomm concluded that it needed to build dedicated processors for AR.

Previously, we had built XR processors for VR and AR, but through our engineering efforts and research into market demand, we realized that dedicated processing was needed and spent several years working on the technology.

The platform contains multiple processing chips and we believe it will equip enterprise and consumer AR smart glasses with form factors capable of mass adoption.

XR Today: Do you think augmented reality or virtual reality will drive mass adoption in the XR industry? What are your general thoughts on this?

Brian Vogelsang: Over the past two years, we have seen a massive adoption of VR for business use cases in verticals such as health and wellness, training and immersive learning, and more.

Virtual reality has seen a rapid transition from a primarily consumer-focused connected device for gaming and entertainment, to standalone headsets in similar verticals.

Before 2019, headsets were largely tethered to PCs, and Qualcomm helped “cut the cord” and enable the next evolution of standalone devices.

It started with devices from Lenovo, HTC VIVE, Pico Interactive, and Meta Platforms, so the growth we’ve seen for consumer use cases has been very strong since then.

The augmented reality market has primarily focused on assisted reality or devices with monocular displays and sometimes cameras, but these are laptops for tasks such as remote guidance.

Brian Vogelsang Qualcomm HS

Brian Vogelsang, AR Product Manager for Qualcomm Technologies

With it, experts can see what you see to guide professionals with step-by-step work instructions through a micro-display similar to Google Glass or Vuzix. Other devices from Magic Leap and Microsoft’s HoloLens headsets offer deeper levels of immersion.

We saw an opportunity to create a new category in between with devices with AR viewers. These are AR smart glasses that are attached to smartphones, which debuted in 2019.

The smart glasses connect via a USB cable to handle most of the computing on the smartphone and the content is viewed on the head-mounted displays (HMDs).

We have also developed perception technologies for tracking hands, eyes and position in the physical environment. This allowed smart glasses and smartphones to sync seamlessly.

These are devices like the Lenovo A3 and the like, and we think that’s the future. With the AR2, we wanted to determine how to make devices truly wireless and enable wider adoption of immersive technologies for businesses and consumers.

XR Today: Snapdragon Spaces has been a major driver of acceleration in the XR industry. Can you tell us more about this?

Brian Vogelsang: Snapdragon Spaces is how Qualcomm delivers technologies to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). We are now bringing this directly to developers, who can download the SDK for Unity or Unreal Engine.

Developers can access its deep AR, perception, hand tracking, 3D reconstruction and other technologies. These allow them to create experiences on our devices and we are excited to work with the developer community on these technologies.

We made them generally available in June of this year, and more recently announced its expansion to support not only AR, but also VR and MR. With Snapdragon Spaces, we support clear optical AR smart glasses. These range from the Lenovo A3 [and Magic Leap 2]. We are also expanding into MR and AR, allowing developers to build an AR device with greater interoperability with MR headsets.

Final thoughts on the future of XR and AR devices

Vogelsang added that he was excited about the momentum in the XR industry and community. Along with its efforts with the AR2 and Snapdragon spaces, the Meta Quest Pro, Lenovo VRX, Magic Leap 2 and Pico 4 and Pico 4 Enterprise had heralded a “new wave of headsets”.

He concluded that future AR2-compatible glasses were on the way, so the community was “heightened up” and Qualcomm was “ready to build for that as well.”

IGS 2022 Miami took place December 5-7 at the iconic Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach and brought together some of the world’s most renowned tech companies for the future of XR.

Companies such as Meta Platforms, Lenovo, Magic Leap, Qualcomm, Unity Technologies, Sony and more attended the event to explore the future of immersive technologies, hold workshops and launch roundtables on Web3 solutions reshaping the future of computing.

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