If companies are going to make augmented reality glasses that you’ll want to wear, they’ll need powerful chips but not a huge battery in your head. Qualcomm thinks it can help. The company has launched the Snapdragon AR2 Gen 1 platform built with small AR glasses in mind. The multi-chip design reportedly delivers 2.5 times the AI performance of the company’s XR2 reference design while using half the power. You can have glasses that intelligently identify objects in the room while still being small and bright enough for you to use for hours at a time.
Part of the trick is to spread the computing load across the frame of the glasses, Qualcomm said. The main processor, based on 4nm of AR includes CPU, Tensor AI processing, graphics and engines for features such as visual statistics. It can support up to nine cameras simultaneously to track both your body and the world around you. A co-processor elsewhere in the glasses houses an AI accelerator for tasks such as eye tracking and computer vision, while a third chip handles communication with networks and phones. This not only balances the weight better, but leads to smaller circuit boards and fewer wires than you’d see with a single do-it-all chip.
That connection is important, Qualcomm said. Like the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in phones, the AR2 Gen 1 is one of the first platforms to support WiFi 7. That is important not only to provide bandwidth for connections connected to the handset (up to 5.8Gbps), but to reduce latency (less than 2ms on your phone, according to Qualcomm). Combined with reduced latency in the processor and co-processor, you should feel more natural and responsive.
Hardware built on AR2 Gen 1 is in “various stages” of progress at several well-known companies, including Lenovo, LG, Nreal, Oppo and Xiaomi. Importantly, Microsoft contributed to the platform’s requirements. Don’t be surprised if one day you’re using AR2 for virtual collaboration on Mesh, not to mention other Microsoft apps and services.
Qualcomm also introduced sound updates to its audio technology. The new S3 Gen 2 Sound and S5 Gen 2 Sound platform promises to make the latest listening technologies more common, including spatial sound with tracking, low latency for games and the latest take on adaptive noise cancellation (think of the ways to display things found in other earbuds). . You won’t see real-world products until the second half of 2023, but these chips could democratize features that were reserved for pricier buds and headphones.
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