A stable in virtual reality headsets is the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR chipsets, providing the backbone of the technology. Now, Qualcomm has announced it will echo this success for assisted reality.
Named Snapdragon® AR2 Gen 1, the new chip, like its XR chipsets, will use the ARM infrastructure. This means computing will be centralized into a tight ecosystem to preserve energy, keep cooling down, have easier software integration, and faster processing speeds. While Qualcomm has called the chip ‘AR’ – in reality, the chipset is for assisted reality smart glasses like Vuzix Blade 2 and RealWear Navigator 500.
The new Snapdragon AR2 chip provides 50% less power consumption for improved battery life and 2.5 times faster speeds for AI-related tasks on a 40% smaller size. In a nutshell, the new AR2 chip means smart glasses are about to become smaller and lighter, increasing comfort and more power to deliver stellar aR experiences running for longer.
The AR2 will offload heavy processing wirelessly to a smartphone or PC using WiFi 7. It is an upcoming WiFi technology that delivers over four times the bandwidth of WiFi 6 and over 6.5 times of WiFi 5.
“We built Snapdragon AR2 to address the unique challenges of headworn AR and provide industry-leading processing, AI and connectivity that can fit inside a stylish form factor,” – Hugo Swart, VP of XR product management at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.
The chip supports up to nine tracking cameras, eye tracking for foveated rendering, and uses a Hexagon Tensor AI processor to improve hand tracking and 6 DoF positional tracking.
Lastly, the chipset will be optimized for Qualcomm’s recently launched XR platform: Snapdragon Spaces, and be integrated with FastConnect XR for multi-device connectivity.
“Snapdragon AR2 platform innovations will revolutionize headworn AR devices”, transforming “immersive productivity and collaboration” – Rubén Caballero, corporate VP of Mixed Reality, Devices & Technology at Microsoft.
It is unknown when Snapdragon AR2 will be released. However, based on the inclusion of WiFi 7, we likely won’t see the new chipset in smart glasses until early 2024.
In general, it was only a question of time before Qualcomm entered the AR space, as Apple Glass and Google Glass 2.0 are being developed for western markets, noticing how Asia has adopted smart glasses with the Oppo Air and Nreal Air.
Lastly, we recently spoke with Vuzix founder Paul Travers on the importance of waveguide optics in the company’s upcoming Vuzix Shield smart glass.