The Snapdragon Tech Summit was an “interesting one” for gamers as Qualcomm revealed its new and more powerful chip for extended reality headsets. It also announced its partnership with Niantic (the company behind games like Ingress and Pokémon Go). The chipmaker and the Pokémon Go creator have joined forces to create reference hardware, software, and cloud components for augmented reality (AR) glasses. It is a multi-year collaboration meant to accelerate the development of AR software and hardware. Though it remains a mystery as to how long you’ll have to wait to enjoy the outcome of their association.
Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2
The Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 platform is a ‘leaf’ to the earlier ‘branch’ XR1 platform. Same as its ancestor, XR2 is specifically designed for AR and VR hardware. However, there are numerous added upgrades such as 5G connectivity, eye tracking, voice-based interaction, and pass-through camera capabilities.
Qualcomm’s XR2 is a colossal upgrade to the XR1. It provides screen resolutions of up to 3K per eye at 90 frames per second along with 8K resolution 360-degree video playing at 60 frames per second. Supporting up to seven concurrent cameras, this can be used for traditional head tracking and rare options such as trailing of eyes and facial features. Added features include real-time translation and object recognition.
Qualcomm’s chips already drive headsets like Microsoft’s HoloLens. Initially, it was rumored that the freshly released HoloLens 2 uses the VR / AR-specific XR1 but in reality, it is powered by the Snapdragon 850 chip. The technological development of augmented reality is moving slowly and is used for specialized enterprise hardware rather than consumer products. Qualcomm’s XR2 announcement indicated toward more casual applications such as your kid wearing smart glasses at the dinner table. It’s still not a rare scenario, but Niantic’s involvement does propose some real commitment toward this idea, as it is one of the few companies to make a real breakout in AR-based phone games.
Niantic CTO, Phil Keslin said during the event that once the company’s XR2-optimized platform is ready, it will be available to anyone at the Niantic Creator Program launching in 2020. Also, the developers at Niantic will work to tweak its Real World Platform (AR technology behind Pokémon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite) and make it more compatible with the XR2.
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