Qualcomm has unveiled its latest AR glasses reference design, which it offers other companies as a template for building their own AR devices. The reference design, which gives us a strong hint at the specs and capabilities of upcoming products, continues to rely on a smartphone to do the heavy computing, but this time is based on a wireless design.
The reference design of Qualcomm’s previous AR glasses was based on the Snapdragon XR1 chip and called for a wired connection between a smartphone and the glasses, allowing the system to split rendering tasks between the two devices.
Now the company’s latest design, based on Snapdragon XR2, takes the wire out of the equation. But instead of going entirely standalone, the new reference design continues to rely on the smartphone to handle most of the heavy rendering, but now does so via a wireless connection between the devices.
In addition to the Snapdragon XR2, the AR glasses incorporate Qualcomm’s FastConnect 6900 chip which equips it with Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3. The company says the chip is designed for “ultra-low latency” and manages less than 3ms of latency between headset and smartphone. The company also announced XR-specific software to control its FastConnect 6900, allowing device makers to tune wireless traffic between devices to prioritize the most urgent data to reduce instances of lag or jitter. due to wireless interference.
While a tethered smartphone seems like the most obvious use case, Qualcomm also says the glasses could just as easily be paired with a Windows PC or a “processing puck.”
Beyond the added wireless technology, the company claims the latest design is 40% thinner than its previous reference design. The latest version has a resolution per eye of 1920×1080 (2MP) at 90Hz. the image during head movements. A pair of monochrome cameras are used for 6DOF tracking and an RGB camera for video or photo capture. The company didn’t mention the device’s field of view, so it’s unlikely to be larger than the previous 45° diagonal reference design.
Like its many prior reference designs, Qualcomm will not manufacture or sell the AR glasses. Instead, it offers the design and underlying technology that other companies can use as a template to build their own devices (hopefully using Qualcomm’s chips!). Companies that rely on Qualcomm’s model typically introduce their own industrial design and custom software offering; some even customize the hardware itself, such as using different screens or optics.
That makes this AR glasses reference design a pretty good look at the current state of AR glasses that can be mass-produced, and a preview of what some companies will be offering in the near future.
Qualcomm says its latest AR eyewear reference design is “available to select partners” starting today, and plans to make it more widely available “in the coming months.”
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