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Apple’s Impact Spurs Innovation: Qualcomm Rolls Out Enhanced Chip for Mixed Reality Headsets

Snapdragon XR2+

Amid Apple’s upcoming release of the Vision Pro headset this spring, Qualcomm introduces an upgraded chip for mixed reality (MR) headsets, leveraging the Apple-driven momentum.

On January 4th, Qualcomm unveiled the second-generation Snapdragon XR2+ platform, featuring a single-chip architecture capable of delivering spatial computing at 90 frames per second with a stunning 4.3K display resolution, enhancing both work and entertainment with remarkable clarity.

Last September, Qualcomm introduced the second-generation Snapdragon XR2 platform, providing a new immersive experience for MR and virtual reality (VR) technologies. The XR2+ version builds upon its predecessor, with a 15% increase in GPU frequency and a 20% boost in CPU frequency, aiming to offer more realistic and detailed experiences for MR and VR devices.

Qualcomm highlights that the XR2+ platform inherits the powerful performance of the XR2, supporting 12 or more parallel cameras and boasting robust on-device AI for seamless tracking of user movements and surroundings, enabling convenient navigation and an unparalleled experience of merging physical and digital spaces.

The XR2+ platform supports Qualcomm’s latest FastConnect™ mobile connectivity system, delivering a lag-free extended reality (XR) experience through ultra-fast Wi-Fi 7, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, and Bluetooth 5.2 wireless connections. The throughput increases by 60%, and latency reduces by 50% compared to the previous FastConnect generation.

Last year, Qualcomm, Samsung, and Google collaborated on MR device development. Recently, Qualcomm announced that two companies, Samsung and Google, plan to utilize the second-generation Snapdragon XR2+ platform to provide advanced XR experiences. Samsung Electronics VP and Chief Technological Officer, Inkang Song, mentioned Qualcomm’s new product will support XR experiences for Galaxy smartphones. Google AR Business VP, Shahram Izadi, expressed that the Android ecosystem will fully leverage the capabilities of the second-generation Snapdragon XR2+, empowering a completely new experience.

To expedite product launches for OEM manufacturers, Qualcomm introduced a new MR and VR reference design developed by China’s leading acoustic company, Goertek, incorporating Tobii’s eye-tracking technology. The reference design supports both single-eye 3K and single-eye 4K configurations, featuring the second-generation Snapdragon XR2 and XR2+.

Media notes Apple’s announcement of the Vision Pro this year ignited enthusiasm in the MR and VR device market. Qualcomm’s chips have been a focal point for many companies trying to attract consumers to this market outside of Apple. However, such products are yet to take off.

Apple's Vision Pro

Citing research firm Circana, Wall Street Learnings mentioned that VR headset and AR glasses sales in the U.S. saw a nearly 40% YoY decline by the end of November 2023, a significant drop compared to the 2% decrease in 2022. The decline in VR market sales underscores the challenges Meta continues to face in making VR technology mainstream despite significant spending for its metaverse business.

However, Meta’s new headset, Quest 3, performed strongly after its release in October 2023, at least contributing to market uplift during the crucial holiday season. In the eight weeks leading to November, U.S. VR headset sales increased by 42% YoY.

Earlier this week, Wall Street Learnings learned from the supply chain that the Vision Pro, priced at $3499, is expected to be launched in the U.S. on January 27, 2024. It is mentioned that Qualcomm’s new XR chip can run Android applications, potentially offering a more affordable alternative to the Vision Pro for businesses.

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