Qualcomm Spurs AR/VR Development With XR Dev Platform
Qualcomm takes a swing at opening up the world of AR/VR hardware development with its Snapdragon Spaces XR Developer Program.
Augmented reality (AR) technology, which superimposes a computer-generated image onto the physical world, is quickly gaining traction across industries. From augmented surgery to interactive classrooms, AR technology hopes to allow users to interact with and analyze the world around them in a more intuitive way.
Recently, semiconductor manufacturer Qualcomm announced its Snapdragon Spaces XR Developer Platform for download. XR, which stands for Extended Reality, is an umbrella term encapsulating AR, virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR). With that in mind, the Lenovo Think Reality A3 smart glasses coupled with a Motorola edge+ smartphone are available in a hardware development kit for use with Snapdragon Spaces.
An exploded rendering of the Lenovo Think Reality A3 Smart Glasses. Image used courtesy of Lenovo
The smart glass lenses work in conjunction with a smartphone to project Android apps onto the view of the physical world. The user can search the web, watch videos, and type word documents all without needing a desktop monitor.
Snapdragon Spaces Pathfinder Provides XR Access and Funding
To jumpstart Snapdragon Space development activity, Qualcomm has announced the Snapdragon Spaces Pathfinder Program. The program provides early access to Snapdragon Spaces technology, project funding, hardware development kits, and co-marketing for projects. Project funding is believed to generally be in the range of $15k to $50k. Both companies and individuals can apply for funding and own all intellectual property that is produced using program funds.
However, the Snapdragon Spaces Pathfinder is not limited to consumer-focused applications, it also supports enterprise-grade apps through the Qualcomm XR Enterprise Program. Enterprise apps are those which focus on the requirements of a business instead of an individual consumer.
Headworn XR Devices Present Unique Challenges
Headworn XR can present unique challenges to manufacturers. For instance, visual and sound quality must be very high, and interactions with the user must be intuitive. Qualcomm claims to use its Snapdragon processors to leverage heterogeneous computing architectures optimized for AR applications.
An example of technology in an AR/XR headset. Image used courtesy of Qualcomm
Technologies like sensors and machine learning often require a relatively large amount of computing power, and figuring out how to put this computing power on a lightweight headset is an ongoing challenge for XR headset manufacturers. It will be interesting to see how this new developer program spurs this technology further and hopefully overcome the challenges it currently faces.
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