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Qualcomm XR1 AR Reference Design

Qualcomm and Microsoft Partner on Custom Chips for Next-Gen AR Glasses

Could this mean a smaller, lighter HoloLens?

Qualcomm held its CES 2022 press conference earlier today and as part of the event revealed that it’s partnered with Microsoft to help push the future of augmented reality (AR). Qualcomm announced that the collaboration will see the pair develop custom AR chips for both consumer and enterprise devices.

Qualcomm XR1 Lifestyle

These custom AR chips will focus on ushering in an era of AR glasses that are lightweight and power-efficient as well as integrating into Microsoft’s ecosystem. That’ll mean support for software like Microsoft Mesh – Microsoft’s shared mixed-reality (MR) platform – and the Snapdragon Spaces XR Developer Platform.

What this could mean is a more lightweight, consumer-friendly version of Microsoft’s HoloLens 2. A consumer edition was in fact confirmed last year by Microsoft’s Alex Kipman who said: “we are absolutely working on a consumer journey for HoloLens.” And then there was that Pokémon GO demo by Niantic Labs using the MR headset.

“This collaboration reflects the next step in both companies’ shared commitment to XR and the metaverse,” said Hugo Swart, vice president and general manager of XR, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. in a statement. “Qualcomm Technologies’ core XR strategy has always been delivering the most cutting-edge technology, purpose-built XR chipsets and enabling the ecosystem with our software platforms and hardware reference designs. We are thrilled to work with Microsoft to help expand and scale the adoption of AR hardware and software across the entire industry.”

Microsoft Mesh

“Our goal is to inspire and empower others to collectively work to develop the metaverse future – a future that is grounded in trust and innovation,” adds Rubén Caballero, corporate vice president Mixed Reality, Microsoft. “With services like Microsoft Mesh, we are committed to delivering the safest and most comprehensive set of capabilities to power metaverses that blend the physical and digital worlds, ultimately delivering a shared sense of presence across devices. We look forward to working with Qualcomm Technologies to help the entire ecosystem unlock the promise of the metaverse.”

Qualcomm is heavily invested in the XR space with chipsets like its Snapdragon XR2 platform being used in devices like Meta Quest 2. And then there’s the XR1 AR Smart Viewer Reference Design which OEM’s can utilise to enter the AR glasses market. This, of course, all leads towards a metaverse vision that most tech companies seem to be scrambling towards. As further details arise, keep reading VRFocus.

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