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Qualcomm expands investment in XR and the metaverse

Mobile chip giant opens new labs in Europe to build on existing commitment to make extended reality accessible to the masses, with focus activities on XR R&D, engineering and key technology development

With analysts already having predicted that the metaverse is almost certain to become a highly competitive commercial playground, if not battlefield, Qualcomm Technologies is aiming to enable a new spatial computing era with an extended reality (XR) lab and research and development (R&D) hub in Europe.

Qualcomm regards Europe as already has a thriving augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) community and says it is committed to making XR the future of mobile computing. But to bring XR to the masses, Qualcomm believes many breakthrough technologies are required in tandem with industry-leading talent.

Its XR labs are designed to allow for the growth in all these areas to deliver breakthrough immersive experiences that will inspire the future of XR.

The chip giant says the move will see it increase its investment in XR technology in Europe and further reinforce its role as “the ticket to the metaverse”. The XR labs will focus activities on XR R&D, engineering and key technology development areas, such as advanced hand tracking and gesture control, 3D mapping and SLAM/localisation services, multi-user experiences and image recognition. They will also provide access to foundational XR technology, including object and geo-tracking.

The new labs will be located across six cities in Europe initially, with the intention to add more in the future. The goal is to help design lightweight, sleek, head-worn glasses and make innovative technology available for developers through the Snapdragon Spaces XR developer platform to build experiences that will transform everyday consumer, retail, industrial, enterprise, education and healthcare.

Qualcomm Technologies’ XR ecosystem strategy is to help lead the XR revolution with optimised hardware powered by Snapdragon platforms, software, frameworks, tools, and broad OS support. This ecosystem aims to develop user experiences that drive demand for devices in key segments that are served by its Snapdragon platforms.

Enrico Salvatori, senior vice-president and president, Qualcomm Europe, said the opportunities for XR were significant. “Combine that with Europe’s rich R&D and leadership in XR and we see the XR labs in Europe as being a big contributor to XR development worldwide,” he said. “Brilliant minds are already working at speed to realise our vision of XR and bring a plethora of revolutionary experiences to everyone, from consumers, healthcare and industrial. These labs join our already significant R&D presence in Europe.”

One of the first companies to use the new XR labs in Europe will be Deutsche Telekom, whose senior vice-president, group partnering and devices, Sean Seaton, said: “XR is the next stage of mobile computing and we are excited to see the opening of the Qualcomm XR R&D labs in Europe and we look forward to working closely with Qualcomm Technologies to bring our collective vision to reality. XR is incredibly exciting and stands to transform the way we work and live. 5G and future network innovations will empower experiences we could not have even imagined.” 

The new work in XR follows a January 2022 announcement by Qualcomm Technologies to form a partnership with Microsoft to expand and hasten the adoption of AR in the enterprise sector.

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