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### Enhancing Competition: Qualcomm’s Latest VR Device Strengthens Apple Vision Pro’s Rivalry

Google and Samsung’s mixed reality headset could get a boost from a new Qualcomm chip enablin…

The secretive collaboration between Samsung and Google to develop an advanced combined reality headset, poised to rival Apple’s Vision Pro, has unveiled a key detail – the utilization of an upgraded version of Qualcomm XR chips as the device’s processor.

Samsung has integrated Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon XR2 Plus Gen 2 chip into its arsenal, alongside several upcoming gadgets. The specifications of this new chip from Qualcomm shed light on the potential capabilities of the Samsung headset and offer insights into what the near future holds for high-end, professional-oriented devices.

The Meta Quest 3 was the first device to feature Qualcomm’s cutting-edge XR2 Gen 2 chip, boasting enhanced graphics, improved color passthrough camera quality, support for physical cameras, and the potential for onboard AI features. Despite its somewhat perplexing nomenclature, the upgraded XR2 Plus Gen 2 chip is intended for a forthcoming series of even more premium devices that could directly challenge Apple’s Vision Pro in terms of features and pricing, which is set at $3,499.

Apart from Samsung, Qualcomm has disclosed some of its partners who will introduce new hardware during this year’s CES event in Las Vegas, including HTC Vive, Immersed (a productivity software company venturing into VR hardware), Chinese esports firm Play for Dream, and an undisclosed hardware collaborator.

Enhanced mixed reality experience with 4K capabilities

The primary advantages of the new device revolve around the ability to support higher-resolution displays and a more extensive array of cameras and trackers, encompassing gaze tracking and full-body monitoring. With a 90Hz refresh rate, Qualcomm asserts that each eye can enjoy up to 4.3K pixel quality when utilizing the new device.

Said Bakadir, Qualcomm’s senior director of product management for the VR/AR sector, suggests that the improved quality could lead to enhanced passthrough lens quality. The enhanced camera capabilities will facilitate better imaging proposals, displaying images with greater clarity. Devices like Meta’s \(500 Quest 3, equipped with superior cameras compared to Quantum2, allow for the creation of applications blending real-world camera footage with VR to deliver AR-like experiences seamlessly integrated into the user’s environment. While Apple’s upcoming \)3,500 Vision Pro boasts superior hardware and features compared to the Quest 3, headsets from Samsung and other manufacturers leveraging Qualcomm’s latest chips may soon approach Apple’s mixed-reality standards.

A list of specs and features for Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR2 Plus Gen 2 chipA list of specs and features for Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR2 Plus Gen 2 chip

Qualcomm elaborates on the enhanced features of the new chip, building upon the foundation set by the Meta Quest 3 device.

Expanded camera and sensor capabilities

Devices utilizing this upgraded Qualcomm chip can expect a broader range of sensors. The XR2 Plus Gen 2 supports up to 12 cameras and sensors concurrently, surpassing the Quest 3’s capacity of eight. These cameras could serve various functions, such as environment sensing, external video capture, or motion tracking. Conversely, devices like the Meta Quest Pro or Apple’s Vision Pro are likely to incorporate internal sensors, as per Qualcomm’s statements. Should a Quest 3 Pro be released, Meta could be a strong contender for a headset leveraging this chip.

Additionally, there might be novel sensor types integrated into these devices. Full-body tracking sensors and in-controller camera sensors akin to those found in Quest Pro devices, which possess dedicated chips, could be utilized. Reports suggest that Samsung and Google might incorporate radar-based Soli sensor technology for near-body motion tracking.

Qualcomm and partner Goertek have explored foveated rendering in mixed reality using this Snapdragon chip, developing research headset prototypes equipped with Tobii eye-tracking cameras. While many headsets featuring this new chip are expected to incorporate eye tracking, the Quest 3 currently lacks this feature.

Seamless connectivity with diverse devices

The inclusion of Wi-Fi 7 support enables faster connectivity to laptops, tablets, and applications. Qualcomm is exploring methods to enhance cross-device interactions by linking smartphones and AR glasses through its distributed computing technology, which distributes processing tasks between the headset and other devices. Leveraging smartphones in conjunction with the headset could further strengthen inter-device connectivity with these new chips. Collaborations with partners are underway to facilitate this ecosystem, enabling devices to collaborate on AI functionalities or share sensors. Bakadir envisions using phone cameras to monitor body movements during VR or MR workouts as the two devices synergize.

Apple is actively promoting the Vision Pro as an integrated system compatible with Macs. Samsung and Google’s headsets may share a similar trait by offering enhanced compatibility with smartphones, laptops, and potentially Google’s Android operating system.

In a Qualcomm press release, Google’s Vice President of MR, Shahram Izadi, specifically mentions Android, expressing excitement about leveraging the capabilities of Snapdragon XR2 Plus Gen 2 within the Android ecosystem.

While Samsung and Google have maintained secrecy regarding their mixed reality headset plans since their announcement last winter, more details are anticipated to emerge later this year. Samsung’s device is expected to integrate seamlessly with smartphones, and reports indicate an advantage over Meta, which, despite running an Android-based OS, lacks support for Google Play apps, unlike Samsung’s device that is compatible with 2D apps from the Play store.

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Last modified: January 8, 2024
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