• In recent years, Qualcomm has shown an increased focus to develop AR and VR-specific chips.
  • Both companies have worked together in the past too, to build bespoke chips, like the Surface Pro X’s customized SQ1 and SQ2 processors.
  • Snapdragon Spaces will be fully integrated with Microsoft Mesh, and the platform will be made available for next-generation lightweight glasses.

During its major Press conference at CES 2022, Qualcomm announced the launch of new products and technologies. It also announced its partnership with tech-giant Microsoft to develop a new, customized Snapdragon Augmented Reality (AR) chip to power future AR glasses within Microsoft’s ecosystems.

With the signing of the deal, both companies look forward to growing their relationship in the XR (Extended Reality) space. Microsoft was already reliant on Qualcomm to supply the Snapdragon chips for its latest HoloLens 2 headset. With the current partnership, the two companies have indicated that they plan to work more closely on components for future AR devices.

In recent years, Qualcomm has shown increased focus to develop AR and VR-specific chips, including the Snapdragon XR2 that powers the Oculus Quest 2. In the past too, the two companies have worked together to build bespoke chips, like the Surface Pro X’s customized SQ1 and SQ2 processors.

What’s notable is the support generated by both Microsoft Mesh and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Spaces XR platform. Both the platforms provide interesting mixed reality use cases that span multiple devices.

Mesh already comes with a cross-platform VR/AR system to build connections between virtual reality (VR) headsets, smartphones, tablets, and PCs. As with Spaces, it aims to specifically integrate Qualcomm-powered smartphones as a “second screen” for mixed reality experiences.

The fact that Qualcomm highlighted the upcoming chip collaboration as being focused on ultra-light augmented reality glasses is proof that both companies have the larger goal to integrate future projects into a broader, connected digital world.

Expert view

“This collaboration reflects the next step in both companies’ shared commitment to XR and the metaverse,” said Hugo Swart, Vice President and GMof XR and metaverse at Qualcomm. “Qualcomm Technologies’ core XR strategy has always been delivering the most cutting-edge technology, purpose-built XR chipsets, and enabling the ecosystem with our software platforms and hardware reference designs. We are thrilled to work with Microsoft to help expand and scale the adoption of AR hardware and software across the entire industry.”

“We’re announcing that we’re developing a custom augmented reality Snapdragon chip for next-generation, power-efficient, very lightweight AR glasses for the Microsoft ecosystem,” said Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon.

“And we’re integrating into that chip platform software from both companies: the Microsoft Mesh platform and the recently announced Qualcomm Snapdragon Spaces XR development platform. Snapdragon Spaces will be fully integrated into Microsoft Mesh, and this platform will be available for next-generation lightweight glasses.”