Qualcomm looks to reshape digital world through spatial computing

Mobile tech giant announces new platforms, developed in close collaboration with Meta, to provide breakthrough performance in immersive applications such as mixed and augmented reality

Immersive technologies are heading fast from the games and leisure arenas and into the industrial, manufacturing, education and enterprise segments, poised to invent new paradigms for each sector, and to address the new realities of enterprise, Qualcomm  has announced the fruits of a technology partnership with Meta in the form of two new spatial computing platforms – Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 and Snapdragon AR1 Gen 1 – designed to be the base for the next generation of mixed reality (MR) and virtual reality (VR) devices, as well as smart glasses.

Qualcomm’s immersive technology development team is said to work at the intersection of computer vision, artificial intelligence (AI), deep learning, graphics, 5G and cloud-enabled offerings to create an intelligent perception of the world.

The premium-tier platform, Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2, fundamentally offers 2.5 times higher graphics processing unit performance and eight times better AI to deliver what Qualcomm calls “ground-breaking” immersion that seamlessly blends the physical and virtual worlds, while the Snapdragon AR1 Gen 1 Platform is said to be the first dedicated processor for smart glasses, which delivers premium camera quality, on-device AI and what it calls “blazing-fast” connectivity. The platform is said to be designed to democratise premium MR and VR technology in a single-chip architecture to unlock gaming, productivity and entertainment experiences in thinner and more comfortable headsets that don’t require an external battery pack.

Offering richer visuals with enhanced clarity, textures and colours at more frames per second compared with previous versions, it is also optimised for resolutions up to 3K per eye to deliver better pixel quality and high-fidelity visuals. Qualcomm assured that users will experience higher fidelity positional tracking with eight times better on-device AI combined with accelerated computer vision, and support for up to 10 concurrent cameras – unlocking more precise interactions that feel natural and intuitive.

The platform allows users to blend virtual content with their physical surroundings to transition between MR and VR experiences. It provides full-colour video-pass-through capabilities with speeds up to 12ms for improved visual fidelity and digital comfort in MR experiences. The company said that other platform innovations include lag-free XR experiences and split rendering optimisations, driven by the Qualcomm FastConnect Wi-Fi 6E/7 Platform and the Qualcomm FastConnect Software Suite for XR. To enhance the platforms’ immersive capabilities, it features Snapdragon Sound Technology Suite to enable spatial audio on-device and in other modes.

The Snapdragon AR1 Gen 1 Platform is described as being designed to enable sleek, lightweight smart glasses that allow users to stay in the moment with seamless capture, notifications and on-glass AI.

The platform features a premium dual ISP for professional-quality camera photos and videos that are captured from a first-person perspective. This, said Qualcomm, will allow users to spontaneously capture, share or live-stream moments directly from the glasses. It also supports up to eight microphones to deliver sound capabilities for crystal-clear capture and playback.

Read more about immersive technologies

On-device AI allows for image and audio quality enhancement, alongside visual search and real-time translation capabilities to enable a personal assistant experience. The platform is also said to be able to unlock advanced smart glasses with support for binocular displays for a more comfortable and convenient visual heads-up display for content consumption including video, directions, notifications and more, that blend in the users’ field of view.

Connectivity for the device is delivered through using the FastConnect 7800 Wi-Fi 7 and Bluetooth 5.3 Platform to enable quick and seamless sharing of content directly from the smart glass.

In what is due to be a massive boost to the commercial prospects of the processors, both platforms will commercially debut on Meta devices in 2023. Specifically, the MetaQuest3 will be powered by Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 Platform and Ray Ban Stories, powered by the Snapdragon AR1 Platform.

“At Meta, we’re focused on developing the technologies of the future in mixed reality and smart glasses, as well as the foundational innovations that will one day power our vision for AR glasses,” said Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, Meta’s chief technology officer and head of Reality Labs.

“Building this future computing platform requires an industry-leading partner, and this is where our long-standing collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies is critical,” he continued. “Together, we are defining next-generation technologies that deliver massive breakthroughs in power, performance, and AI.

“The latest Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 and Snapdragon AR1 Platforms, which power Meta Quest 3 and our next-generation Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses, are another testament to the strength of this partnership, and we are thrilled for users around the world to experience them.”

Read more on Artificial intelligence, automation and robotics

Data Center
Data Management