Day two of chipmaker Qualcomm’s annual Snapdragon Summit saw the unveiling of the Snapdragon AR2 Gen 1 – the company’s first dedicated augmented reality chipset – designed to better serve augmented reality experiences through smart glasses and other accessories. similar use.
Qualcomm already has a well-established presence in the XR space (virtual reality/VR, mixed reality/MR, and augmented reality/AR), with Meta Quest 2 and Pico 4 notably running on the company’s recent XR2 platform, while the new Meta Da’s Faced Quest Pro headset – which dabbles lightly in mixed reality thanks to its color pass-through support – is one of the first headsets to run on Qualcomm’s improved XR2 Plus chipset. However, the experiences and devices the AR2 Gen 1 is designed to support are slightly different.
Until now, even existing Qualcomm augmented reality wearables like Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 have had their size and shape dictated, in part, by the size and power demands of the current chipsets they’re running on. Despite approaching a look that more accurately matches conventional everyday sunglasses, even the company’s Snapdragon XR1-powered AR reference design comes with thick arms and unusual proportions to fit the XR1 chipset inside.
Despite its somewhat confusing name, the recently revealed Snapdragon AR2 Gen 1 is Qualcomm’s first attempt at a dedicated AR platform to better fit the augmented reality glasses form factor that sci-fi promised us; a head-worn AR system that doesn’t have to compromise on the dimensions of conventional sunglasses in the same way as previous attempts, while still offering better connectivity and lower latency experiences than previous devices.
Rather than having to fit a single SoC onto the bridge or arms of a pair of smart glasses, three elements of the AR2 Gen 1 are separated, to reduce the platform’s overall footprint; making it easy to fit a wide range of form factors.
Compared to the XR2, the AR2 Gen 1 has a 40% smaller PCB and 45% less wiring, with the new reference design that Qualcomm showed off during the Summit putting the main AR processor on one arm, the connectivity module on the other, and the AR coprocessor in the bridge.
With the heavier compute offloaded to a supporting device (like a smartphone), the AR2 Gen 1’s hardware can focus on delivering a faster, more responsive experience, punctuated by the same new FastConnect 7800 WiFi module found inside the just-announced Snapdragon 8 Gen of the company. 2 mobile chip, delivering cutting-edge WiFi 7 speeds with sub-2ms latency.
What’s more, this focused approach means the AR2 Gen 1 also delivers 50% less power consumption and 2.5x better AI performance compared to the XR2 when it comes to tasks like object recognition and hand tracking.
Companies like LG, Nreal, Oppo, Pico, TCL, and Xiaomi have already committed to building their own AR devices running on AR2 Gen 1, with the potential for hardware-backed 6DoF tracking, eye tracking, and a host of other great AR features expected to appear in this upcoming release. device wave.
Until these thinner, sleeker, more responsive AR2 Gen 1 smart glasses hit the market, though, check out or roundup the best VR headsets you can (and should) buy, right now.