Qualcomm presses ahead with XR plan, supports XRSpace launch

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The Qualcomm keynote speech at AWE Online 2020 revealed that more than a dozen partnerships with smartphone manufacturers and telecoms companies are now in place to create the next generation of 5G XR mobile platforms, including XRSpace

In brief

➨ What? AWE Online 2020
➨ When? 26 May to 29 May 2020
➨ Where? Here
➨ How much? $199 for a four-day pass

In full

The big news to come out of AWE Online 2020 yesterday was the announcement from Qualcomm that it has 15 partnerships in place to develop Snapdragon-powered XR headgear—and that it’s also supporting the launch of former HTC chief executive officer Peter Chou’s new venture, XRSpace.

The partnership list is long and impressive—China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, EE, KDDI, KT, LG Uplus, NTT Docomo, Orange, SK Telecom, SoftBank, Telefonica, Verizon and Vodafone are all participating in the HMD Accelerator Program (HAP) to pre-validate components and performance between smartphones and XR viewers.

Qualcomm wants HAP to make it easier to develop glasses, the XR viewer, that tether to a 5G-enabled smartphone via USB-C cable, to realise its vision of providing the high bandwidth and low latency essential for developing consumer-friendly AR experiences and holographic telepresence.

Multiple glasses manufacturers are in development, including 3Glasses, iQiyi, Nreal, Oppo, Panasonic, Pico and Shadow Creator, which are going through the HAP certification process to be able to quickly deploy with Snapdragon-powered devices in the coming months.

Multiple glasses manufacturers are in development, including 3Glasses, iQiyi, Nreal, Oppo, Panasonic, Pico and Shadow Creator
Multiple glasses manufacturers are in development, including 3Glasses, iQiyi, Nreal, Oppo, Panasonic, Pico and Shadow Creator

Smartphone manufacturers that plan to provide new XR experiences with their 5G-enabled smartphones through glasses in development include Asus, Black Shark, OnePlus, Oppo, Smartisan, vivo and ZTE, with others to come.

Nreal’s glasses are highly anticipated, with the lightweight consumer edition expected to cost $500 and an enterprise version scheduled for later in 2020 that could challenge HoloLens 2 and Magic Leap 1.

Still only available as a $1,119 development kit, Nreal’s glasses use Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, 855 or 865 smartphones as their base.

Chi Xu, chief executive officer of Nreal, said: “Nreal is supercharging the delivery of mixed reality glasses for all and we’re thrilled to be leading the way on mass consumer adoption in collaboration with global operators and Qualcomm Technologies.”

“Nreal’s Nebula 3D system, which can enable smartphone apps and experiences in a mixed reality environment, [is] a milestone in making XR accessible to consumers worldwide and to leading XR developers through our hardware enhanced SDK offerings. The Nreal SDK offers the best development and delivery platform available to develop consumer MR apps and continues our mission to offer fast and easy development and deployment of XR experiences on current and next generation Snapdragon-powered devices.”

MR and AR developments were not the only news to come from Qualcomm amid AWE Online 2020. During his keynote presentation, Said Bakadir, director of product management for XR, revealed that the Mova headset through which Chou’s new XRSpace—an end-to-end social VR hardware and software platform built in collaboration with a number of partners, including Deutsche Telekom—will be experienced is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845.

The headset will do away with controllers and require wearers to use hand motions and gestures to navigate through and interact with the XRSpace social platform.

Bakadir: “We’re moving toward a new reality where virtually everyone and everything is connected. We are soon going to be using glasses for immersive and hands-free communication and content consumption, anytime, anywhere.”

Introducing the XRSpace Mova headset via a recorded video, Chou said: “Our vision is to bring people together, no matter where they are. XRSpace’s single goal is to take VR to the masses, by redefining how people connect, socialise and collaborate. We have created very innovative hardware in XRSpace Mova.”

He described XRSpace Mova as a mobile VR device uncomplicated by controllers, “very powerful”, and smaller and more stylish than many of its competitors.

XRSpace Manova is the social VR platform accessible via Mova
XRSpace Manova is the social VR platform accessible via Mova

XRSpace Manova—the social VR platform accessible via Mova—does away with “solitary apps” and provides “many public and private spaces” where users can “socialise, work and play together”.

XRSpace Mova will launch some time later this year at an expected retail price of $599. XRSpace is opening an early-access developer programme first, which will include the headset and software development kits.

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Main image: XRSpace Mova as a mobile VR device uncomplicated by controllers, ‘very powerful’, and smaller and more stylish than many of its competitors, according to its creator
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