Mixed reality is a technology that combines the best of both virtual reality and augmented reality, creating a seamless blend of digital and physical worlds. The new Quest 3 and upcoming Apple Vision Pro has shown the potential to revolutionize many industries and domains, such as education, entertainment, health care, and manufacturing.
However, MR also faces many challenges and limitations, such as delivering high-performance, low-latency, and immersive experiences on battery-powered devices that are comfortable and convenient to wear.
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Qualcomm Reference Headset.
Qualcomm, a leading company in the field of mobile and wireless technologies, has been at the forefront of developing and enabling MR solutions. Recently, Qualcomm announced its new MR reference headset, which is based on the Snapdragon XR2+ chipset. This is an upgraded version of the Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 chipset that was used in the quest 3. The XR2+ offers significant improvements over the previous generation, such as:
- 20% increase in CPU
- 15% increase in GPU
- 12 concurrent cameras (up from 10)
- 18.5MP (4,300 × 4,300) per-eye resolution at 90Hz
Qualcomm’s MR reference headset is designed to enable original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to create their own MR devices with minimal customization and development time. Qualcomm provides the hardware, software, and tools for OEMs to build on top of the their reference model, while allowing them to differentiate their products with their own design, features, branding, and pricing.
Qualcomm’s Reference Headset Specs
Image credit: Qualcomm
Processor: Snapdragon XR2+ Gen 2
The core of the reference headset is Snapdragon XR2+ Gen 2 processor.
Eye-tracking Technology by Tobii
VR system incorporates advanced eye-tracking technology from Tobii. This not only enhances user engagement but also opens up new possibilities for intuitive control.
Pancake lenses and visuals with a per-eye resolution of 18.5MP (4,300 × 4,300) at 90Hz.
Innovative Camera System
The device boasts 12 concurrent cameras, each serving a unique purpose. Speculated uses from Road to VR include.
- 2x Eye-tracking: Unprecedented precision in tracking your gaze.
- 2x RGB Passthrough: Seamlessly blend virtual and real-world visuals.
- 4x World-tracking: Navigate through virtual spaces with enhanced accuracy.
- 4x Depth-sensing: Uncover new possibilities in depth perception.
Compact and Adjustable Design
hardware IPD adjustment – a must for current gen headsets. Microphone Array and 3.5mm Headphone port.
Support for Wi-Fi 6/6E/7.
Samsung’s Upcoming headset
One of the OEMs that has announced its partnership with Qualcomm to develop its own MR device using the XR2+ is Samsung. Samsung is a well-known company in the field of consumer electronics, especially in the smartphone and TV markets. Samsung has also been involved in the XR industry for several years, with products such as the Gear VR, a smartphone-based VR headset that was launched in 2014 in collaboration with Oculus; and the Odyssey, a PC-based VR headset that was launched in 2017 as part of the Windows Mixed Reality platform.
Samsung’s announcement of its plans to create its own MR device is a significant move for both Samsung and the XR industry. Samsung has not revealed much details about its upcoming MR device, but based on its previous XR products and its current market position, we can speculate on some possible aspects of its MR device:
- Design: Samsung’s MR device might adopt a similar design to its Odyssey VR headset, which features a sleek and ergonomic design with built-in headphones and controllers. Samsung might also incorporate some of its signature design elements, such as curved edges, metallic finishes, or edge-to-edge displays.
- Features: Samsung’s MR device might offer some features that are unique or superior to other MR devices, such as spatial audio, facial recognition, voice control, or biometric sensors. Samsung might also leverage some of its existing technologies or services, such as Bixby, Samsung Pay, or SmartThings.
- Price: Samsung’s MR device might be priced in the higher end compared to other MR devices, such as the Microsoft HoloLens 2 or the Facebook Project Aria.
- Release date: Samsung’s MR device might be released in late 2024 or early 2025, depending on the development progress and market readiness. Samsung might also launch its MR device in select regions or markets first before expanding globally.
Will Samsung’s MR device compete with the Quest 3 or Apple Vision Pro?
It’s unlikely that the new Samsung’s MR device will be priced where the quest 3 is. It will more likely face some competition from other existing or upcoming MR devices in the enterprise space, such as:
- Microsoft HoloLens 2: This is the second generation of Microsoft’s MR device, which was launched in 2019. It features a flip-up visor, a wider field of view, improved hand and eye tracking, and a more comfortable fit. It also supports Azure Spatial Anchors, a cloud service that enables shared and persistent MR experiences across devices and locations. The HoloLens 2 is mainly targeted at enterprise and industrial customers, with a price tag of $3,500.
- Facebook Project Aria: This is the codename for Facebook’s MR device, which is still in development. It features a pair of glasses with cameras and sensors that can capture and process the user’s surroundings and overlay digital information on them. It also supports Facebook Reality Labs, a research division that explores the future of social and immersive computing. The Project Aria is expected to be launched in 2023 or 2024, with a focus on consumer and social applications.
- Apple Vision pro, which is coming out later this year and looks to set the bar for spatial computing and XR technologies.
Qualcomm’s MR reference headset and Samsung’s plans are indicative of the rapid innovation and growth in the MR industry, as they showcase the latest advancements in hardware, software, and content for MR devices. We are excited to see what these companies and others will bring to the MR market in the coming years, and how they will shape the future of MR experiences.
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