Qualcomm is primarily known as a chip maker, but today it unveiled a new reference design for augmented reality glasses. Devices based on it can be connected to a smartphone or computer via the USB-C connector. The system, dubbed the XR1 Smart Viewer, will be lightweight and compact. Its design is close to the usual sunglasses. It is reported that the first XR1 Smart Viewer device will be released in the middle of this year.
The XR1 Smart Viewer is designed as a smartphone or computer accessory, not a stand alone product. The device uses two OLED displays with Full HD resolution and a refresh rate of 90 Hz. The glasses use an array of cameras and sensors to realize such capabilities as tracking the position of the user’s hands in space, as well as detecting planes in the environment. Thanks to this, the device will allow the user, for example, to display several virtual windows on the wall, or place a virtual object on a table and interact with it using gestures. However, like most augmented reality glasses, the XR1 Smart Viewer has a fairly narrow 45-degree field of view, which is roughly the same as Microsoft’s HoloLens 2.
Lenovo has already announced a product based on the XR1 Smart Viewer design reference. We are talking about the ThinkReality A3 glasses, which were presented at CES 2021 in January. The device will hit the market in the middle of this year, but its price is still unknown.
The XR1 Smart Viewer differs from the previously unveiled Snapdragon XR1 and XR2 platforms, which are full-fledged chipsets for virtual and augmented reality glasses. The new device relies on a computer or smartphone and cannot function on its own. It is thanks to this compromise that the XR1 Smart Viewer approaches the size of ordinary glasses.
Qualcomm has been actively promoting augmented reality technologies for the past couple of years. The company believes AR headsets can drive the nascent 5G market by popularizing high-bandwidth mixed reality applications. Qualcomm previously partnered with Chinese company Neral to develop AR headsets for the consumer market. The Neral Light headset debuted in South Korea and Japan late last year, and is expected to hit the US and European markets this year. As with the XR1 Smart Viewer, the device requires a smartphone connection to function. It is worth noting that Facebook also announced plans to launch such a device this year.