Qualcomm and Microsoft collaborate on custom chips for AR glasses

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Qualcomm announced its intentions to integrate software platforms with Microsoft at Tuesday’s CES 2022 keynote.

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Qualcomm’s CEO Cristiano Amon announced during Tuesday’s CES 2022 keynote that the company and Microsoft were partnering on producing a custom chip for next-generation augmented reality glasses.

“We’ve been talking for years about the possibility of having wearable augmented reality devices that will gain scale,” Amon said. “And we’re integrating into that chip platform software from both companies with the Microsoft Mesh platform, and the recently announced Qualcomm Snapdragon Spaces XR development platform. Snapdragon Spaces will be fully integrated into Microsoft Mesh, and this platform will be available for next-generation lightweight glasses.”

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The collaboration and future chip would help power a new integration of lightweight, energy-efficient glasses in conjunction with Mesh, Microsoft’s upcoming take on the metaverse platform. Using this newly announced custom chip, users will be able to access Microsoft’s applications providing the ability to connect over a holographic, virtual space using a multitude of devices, such as virtual reality headsets, tablets, mobile phones and PCs. 

In addition, the combination of the chip and Microsoft Mesh will allow users to collaborate over work platforms such as Microsoft Teams using virtual likenesses of themselves.

The Snapdragon Spaces XR development platform will afford users the ability to use spatial mapping so digital objects can be overlaid upon the space. The Spaces XR platform also comes with features such as positional tracking, object recognition and hand tracking, affording the ability to manipulate spaces using hand gestures.

Qualcomm has already tackled both the VR and AR realms using its chips in the past, as the Snapdragon 850 now powers Microsoft’s Hololens 2 headset and the Oculus Quest 2 headset, which is powered by the Snapdragon XR2 chip.

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“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,” Rubén Caballero, corporate vice president for mixed reality at Microsoft, said in a statement. “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.”

Neither Microsoft nor Qualcomm provided a timeline on when these chips or headsets would be available, but with this newly announced collaborative effort, both companies said they are committed to providing their users with a more connected experience through digital means.

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