Qualcomm and Microsoft are working on custom chips for next-generation AR glasses

In short: Microsoft and Qualcomm want to participate in the metaverse, despite being a vague term for a hyper-connected world that combines augmented reality with traditional digital technologies. Both companies believe that better hardware is the key to driving adoption, so they decided to work together to create custom AR glasses.

Microsoft and Qualcomm already have a strong partnership for Windows on Arm. The Redmond giant has integrated a dedicated Snapdragon chipset into the Surface Pro X, and its HoloLens 2 mixed reality headset is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 850. Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon said more than 200 corporate customers have adopted Snapdragon laptops so far.

Two companies have announced plans to collaborate to develop custom augmented reality chips for use in future lightweight, energy-efficient glasses that will power Microsoft’s ecosystem. The renewed partnership was revealed during Qualcomm’s speech at CES 2022 and is part of the two companies’ strategy to accelerate the adoption of mixed reality solutions for the consumer and enterprise sectors.

Another part of the plan is the integration of two AR software platforms – Microsoft Mesh and Snapdragon Spaces XR Developer Platform.

“This collaboration reflects the next step in the joint commitment of both XR companies and the metaverse,” Qualcomm VP and General Manager of XR Hugo Swart explained in a statement. “We’re thrilled to be working with Microsoft to help expand and scale the adoption of AR hardware and software across the industry.”

“Our goal is to inspire others and empower them to collectively develop the metaverse – a future built on trust and innovation,” added Ruben Caballero, corporate vice president of mixed reality at Microsoft. “With services such as Microsoft Mesh, we strive to provide the safest and most complete set of metaverse experiences that connect the physical and digital worlds, ultimately providing a common sense of presence across all devices.”

Metaverse is still a vague term that seems to encompass everything from augmented reality to virtual reality, cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and more. Microsoft says it is working on a more practical version of this concept, and bringing Qualcomm to help develop ASICs and improve reference hardware seems like a logical step. Both companies have not specified a timeline for when we can see the fruits of this new partnership, so we’ll have to wait and see.

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