Qualcomm’s New AR Headset Design Might Make Smart Glasses More of a Thing

Qualcomm’s New AR Headset Design Might Make Smart Glasses More of a Thing
Image: Qualcomm

It seems like every tech company is working to launch some kind of augmented reality app or headset. Now Qualcomm is releasing a reference design for smart glasses to hopefully speed up development of future AR gadgets.

Based on the Snapdragon XR1 platform, the Qualcomm AR Smart Viewer features dual 0.71-inch micro displays with a 1920 x 1080 resolution and a 90 Hz refresh rate, along with support for six degrees of motion-tracking, hand-tracking, and dual 1-MP cameras. There’s even support for an 8-MP RGB camera, which Qualcomm claims can be used to deliver “See What I See” remote assistant functionality.

Designed as a way to test both desktop and mobile applications, the AR Smart Viewer can be tethered to a smartphone, desktop PC, computing puck, or potentially even a 5G-connected device to augment its performance, with Smart Viewer’s on-board processing used to best distribute various workloads as needed.

When connected to an Android phone, Qualcomm says the AR Smart Viewer can open apps in a 2D framework, allowing users to see things in the display both privately and hands-free. Meanwhile, the AR Smart Viewer can also be used indoors to render multiple virtual displays, including the ability to pin AR windows screens to specific items like a virtual sticky note. And when you want to relax, the AR Smart Viewer even doubles as a personal display for watching movies.

In the teaser clip above, Qualcomm is showing how people can even attend virtual AR meetings using the Smart Viewer, which is something that a number of folks would probably find helpful as remote work remains a thing.

Image: Qualcomm Image: Qualcomm

The big caveat with the AR Smart Viewer is that, because it’s a reference design, the Smart Viewer’s main function is to help developers and engineers test out or design future apps and devices. That means the average consumer won’t be able to buy one to try at home. But the AR Smart Viewer has already been used to support enterprise products like Lenovo’s Think Reality A3 headset, which Qualcomm says was developed in parallel with the AR Smart Viewer.

Microsoft says it’s also planning to use the AR Smart Viewer to help expand Azure’s mixed-reality services, which will become increasingly important as MR and XR transition from the enterprise space to consumer technology gadgets.

With companies like Apple, Facebook, and others already dreaming big when it comes to our augmented reality future, it’s only a matter of time until devices based on the AR Smart Viewer become as common as a smartphone or laptop. Qualcomm is giving us a sneak peek of that future with this reference design.