If companies want to make augmented reality eyewear that people want to wear, they’ll need powerful chips that don’t need a large battery on your head. Qualcomm believes it can assist. The company has revealed a Snapdragon AR2 Gen 1 platform for slim AR glasses. According to reports, the multi-chip design outperforms the company’s XR2-based reference design by 2.5 times while using half the power. You could have eyewear that detects objects in the room intelligently while keeping the rest slim and light enough to wear for hours at a time.
According to Qualcomm, part of the trick is to extend the computing load across the frame of the glasses. The main 4nm-based AR processor contains a CPU, Tensor AI processing, graphics, and engines for features such as visual analytics. It can facilitate up to nine cameras at the same time to track both your body and the environment around you. A coprocessor in the glasses also includes an AI accelerator for activities like eye tracking and computer vision, and a third chip handles network and phone connectivity. This improves weight distribution and results in smaller circuit boards and fewer wires than with a single do-it-all chip.
According to Qualcomm, networking is also important. AR2 Gen 1 is one of the first platforms to facilitate WiFi 7, similar to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in phones. This is critical not only for providing massive amounts of bandwidth for connecting to a handset (up to 5.8Gbps) but also for lowering latency (under 2ms to your phone, according to Qualcomm). When combined with processor and co-processor lag reduction, you should have a more organic and responsive experience.
AR2 Gen 1 hardware is in “various stages” of development at many well-known companies, including Lenovo, LG, Nreal, Oppo, and Xiaomi. Significantly, Microsoft was involved in the platform specifications. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself using AR2 for virtual collaboration in Mesh, as well as other Microsoft apps and services in the future.
Qualcomm has also made significant improvements to its audio technology. The new S3 Gen 2 Sound and S5 Gen 2 Sound platforms promise to make the most recent listening technology more widely available, such as spatial audio with head tracking, lower latency for games, and the recent take on adaptive active noise cancellation.
Real-world products won’t be available until the second quarter of 2023, but these chips have the potential to democratize features that were previously reserved for more expensive buds and headphones.