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Qualcomm today announced the Snapdragon AR2 Gen 1, a chipset designed to power augmented reality smart glasses. The specialised processor is likely to increase the number of smart glasses on the market, with Qualcomm saying OPPO, Lenovo, LG, TCL, Tencent, Sharp, Nreal, Pico (owned by TikTok parent company Bytedance), QOQOQ, Vuzix, and Xiaomi all have products in various stages of development.
The Snapdragon AR2 Gen 1 is specifically designed for augmented reality experiences, rather than virtual reality. As such, Qualcomm has prioritised making the chip smaller and more energy efficient when compared to the processors it makes for headsets like the Meta Quest 2. The Snapdragon AR2 Gen 1 can also offload more complex data to a companion phone or computer. This in turn should lead to more streamline glasses designs, especially when compared to virtual reality headsets.
"We built Snapdragon AR2 to address the unique challenges of headworn AR and provide industry-leading processing, artificial intelligence, and connectivity that can fit inside a stylish form factor," said Qualcomm vice president of extended reality product management Hugo Swart.
"With the technical and physical requirements for virtual reality and augmented reality diverging, Snapdragon AR2 represents another metaverse-defining platform in our extended reality portfolio to help our OEM partners revolutionize augmented reality glasses."
On the technical front, the Snapdragon AR2 Gen 1 supports up to nine concurrent cameras, eye tracking and iris authentication, and WiFi 7. Qualcomm says the Snapdragon AR2 Gen 1 will offer latency of less than 2ms between the glasses and a connected device.
Qualcomm chips have already been used in smart glasses-style products like Meta's (formerly Facebook) Ray Ban Stories.
At this stage, there's no timeline for when smart glasses powered by the Snapdragon AR2 Gen 1 are likely to be available. None of the manufacturers using the chipset have formally announced upcoming smart glasses.
Manufacturers including OPPO and TCL have already launched initial attempts at smart glasses. OPPO's smart glasses aren't available in Australia however and are only compatible with OPPO phones. TCL's smart glasses are more so designed to give you a private screen, rather than something you wear all the time.
Apple is expected to enter the space next year with an augmented reality headset. It reported also has a pair of augmented reality smart glasses in the pipeline, rumoured for 2024.
Disclosure: This author attended Snapdragon Summit as a guest of Qualcomm