Qualcomm Reveals New AR Smart Glasses Blueprint

SparkAmpLab Editorial Team
June 29, 2021
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Discover the latest trends on-the-go. This is a quick topic recap of one of the five biggest AR/VR trends in Feb identified by SparkAmplify. Below is a recap of Qualcomm’s plans to join in the race to develop AR smartglasses. For more information on SparkAmplify’s monthly AR/VR topic analysis, please visit: https://www.sparkamplab.com/

Latest Development: Qualcomm’s entrance into the AR glasses circle comes at a time when rival companies like Apple, Facebook, and Samsung have also made moves, releasing concept videos and plans for their own smartgadgets. With this many options for AR glasses potentially available to consumers, the ARVR market will be an exciting place in the near future. 

The Details: Qualcomm joins tech industry leaders Apple, Facebook, and Samsung in the development of AR smartglasses as a new challenger. In February 2021, the smartphone chip manufacturer announced its own design for an AR smartglasses: Qualcomm XR1 AR Smart Viewer Reference Design. 

In a video released by the company, the product responds to hand and arm gestures, tracks head movement, and allows users to interact with virtual 3D objects and images around the room. The AR glasses also project digital content onto multiple large virtual screens by connecting the smartglasses with an attached device. 

What to Know: The blueprint shows the glasses attached to an external device such as a PC or a smartphone via a cable. However, a wireless version is in development for 2022, according to CNET. Even though the current model relies on an external tether, Qualcomm plans to include internal chips in the glasses themselves so they can handle some onboarding processing. This is promising and exciting because of Qualcomm’s position as a leading smartphone chip manufacturer. Furthermore, it is the onboard processing capabilities that separates the XR1 AR Smart Viewer glasses from other tethered AR glasses. 

In a brief with Next Reality, Qualcomm’s VP and general manager Hugo Swart announced that “The Snapdragon XR1 AR smart viewer marks a new chapter for our reference design portfolio and a big step in the evolution of AR viewers,”. 

The Specs: Qualcomm AR Smartviewer glasses feature two speakers, three microphones, and two 0.71-inch 90Hz high resolution 1080p Micro-OLED displays. The glasses will use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR1 processing platform, which consumes 30% less power than other smartglasses with similar specs but will add to the overall cost, according to Road to VR. The Snapdragon XR1 is the hardware that is responsible for the onboarding processing mentioned above. 

Collaboration: Currently, Qualcomm is developing its AR smartglasses to be compatible with Microsoft Windows PCs and other devices. Even though Microsoft has its own AR plans with developing its Hololens glasses, the tech giant is “looking forward to working with Qualcomm Technologies”, as reported in a press release

What This Means For the Future: With Qualcomm, Samsung, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook all teasing us with concept videos and blueprints of the development of their own ARVR gadgets, tech enthusiasts and consumers will be eager to see the final products and test them for themselves. 

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