Qualcomm Unveils AR Platform Snapdragon Spaces

Qualcomm unveiled Snapdragon Spaces. It is a developer kit worn on the head and meant to be used for creating AR applications, or adding them to existing Android applications.

Snapdragon Spaces builds on Qualcomm’s existing XR1 and XR2 5G platforms, and incorporates spatial mapping and meshing, occlusion, plane detection, local anchors and persistence, and scene understanding, the chipmaker stated. In addition, the platform will incorporate expertise gained from two recent acquisitions, Qualcomm revealed. HINS SAS and its Clay AIR subsidiary bring hand tracking and gesture recognition, while Wikitude adds object and image recognition and tracking technology.

“Head-worn AR will replace every screen that we have as the tech evolves. We’re going to a world where that 2D screen really disappears,” said Hugo Swart, Qualcomm VP and GM of XR. In forecasting a 3D fusion of the virtual and physical worlds, Swart is joined by a number of high-profile tech executives, including Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who has renamed his company Meta as a reference to the metaverse.

Lenovo’s ThinkReality A3 smart glasses paired with a Motorola smartphone will be the first commercial implementation of Snapdragon Spaces, Qualcomm said. The chipmaker added Xiaomi and Oppo are also set to support Snapdragon Spaces, which is scheduled for general availability next spring. Qualcomm also named mobile network operators Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile US and NTT DoCoMo as partners expected to tether AR glasses to smartphones, supporting  the commercialisation of Snapdragon Spaces.

To build the developer ecosystem, Qualcomm is supporting many existing 3D environments, including those created by Epic Games, Unity and Niantic. This week Niantic launched a new platform called Lightship which integrates Snapdragon Spaces to enable developers to create outdoor AR experiences, the companies explained. AR developers will also gain support from Qualcomm’s Pathfinder Programme, which will provide platform technology, project funding, co-marketing and promotion, and hardware development kits for Snapdragon Spaces.

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