Samsung and Google have remained silent about the details of their next advanced mixed reality headsets who hopes to compete with Apple Vision Probut now we at least know what processor the device will use: a new version of Qualcomm’s XR chips.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR2 Plus Gen 2 chip, announced on Thursday, will be on Samsung hardware, as well as several other upcoming headphones. Qualcomm’s details on the new chip indicate a lot about what Samsung’s headphones could do and the wave of more expensive, pro-focused headphones the next year or two could bring.
The Meta Mission 3which arrived last fall, was the first headset with Qualcomm’s next generation XR2 Generation 2 Chip, which improved graphics, color transfer camera quality, support for external cameras, and possibilities for built-in AI features. The advanced XR2 Plus Gen 2 chip, while confusingly named, is aimed at an upcoming line of even more premium headphones that could directly compete with Apple Vision Pro for $3,499 in features and price.
Qualcomm has confirmed some partners that will make upcoming devices with the new chip in addition to Samsung: HTC Vive, Immersed (a work software company that is already making your own virtual reality headset), Chinese esports company Play for Dream, and a yet-unannounced hardware partner that will be revealed at this year’s show. CES show in Las Vegas next week.
4K screens, better mixed reality at the same time
The biggest advantages of the new chip are in driving higher resolution displays and more simultaneous cameras and trackers, including eye tracking and full-body tracking, depending on how manufacturers wanted to design their hardware. Qualcomm promises a resolution of up to 4.3K pixels per eye using the new chip at a 90Hz refresh rate.
The improved resolution should also mean better pass-through camera quality, according to Said Bakadir, Qualcomm’s senior director of product management in charge of the VR/AR business. It will support better camera resolutions and display images in more detail on better screens. Meta’s $500 Quest 3 has significantly better cameras than the Quest 2, making for apps that can combine real-world camera images with virtual reality to create AR-like experiences that feel like they’re in. In your world. Apple’s upcoming $3,500 Vision Pro has better cameras and displays than the Quest 3, but headsets like those from Samsung and others could perhaps start to approach Apple’s level of mixed reality quality using new Qualcomm chips .
More sensors, cameras, trackers
Expect headphones with this updated Qualcomm chip to have more sensors as well. The XR2 Plus Gen 2 supports up to 12 cameras and sensors at once, up from eight on the XR2 Gen 2 on the Quest 3. Some of those cameras could be related to external video capture or motion tracking, or depth sensors. Others, as Qualcomm highlighted, would be internal: eye and face tracking cameras very similar to those of the Meta Quest Pro or Vision Pro from Apple. Meta could be another possible candidate for a headset using this chip if a Quest 3 Pro is ever released.
Other types of sensors could also be in play. In addition to camera sensors on the controller, very similar to those on the Quest Pro controllers (which also have their own chips), full-body tracking sensors could be in play. Or new ways of feeling hand and body movements. The reports have already suggested that Samsung and Google could use radars Soli sensor technology to help with tracking gestures close to the body.
Qualcomm has created its own reference device headset with its partner Goertek using Tobii eye-tracking cameras to explore foveated rendering in mixed reality using this chipset. The Quest 3 doesn’t have eye tracking, but many of the headsets that use this new chip likely do.
Connection with other devices
Wi-Fi 7 support, which could mean faster connection to laptops, tablets and phones. Qualcomm already has split rendering technology that shares processing between headsets and other computers and has been exploring ways to AR phones and glasses work together. He says the relationship between devices could be even stronger in headphones with these new chips, including using phones with headphones. Bakadir says talks are underway with partners to enable the infrastructure, but the phones are a key part. In addition to sharing renders, devices could collaborate on artificial intelligence functions or share sensors. Bakadir points to one possible use for fitness: using a phone’s camera to track your body during a workout conducted in virtual reality or augmented reality while the two devices connect to each other.
Apple is already leaning heavily toward introducing the Vision Pro as a full computer that can also connect to Macs. Samsung and Google may have a similar approach for their headphones, connecting better with computers and phones and perhaps with Google’s Android operating system.
Shahram Izadi, vice president of AR at Google, specifically invokes Android in a statement via Qualcomm’s press release, saying: “We are excited for the Android ecosystem to leverage the capabilities of Snapdragon XR2 Plus Gen 2 and enable new
Samsung and Google have been quiet about their mixed reality headset plans since announcing the partnership last winter, but more information should arrive sometime this year. CNET has already learned Connecting with phones is probably part of what Samsung’s device will do, and supporting 2D apps in Google’s Play store would give it an advantage over Meta, which still does not have support for the Google Play application despite running an Android-based operating system.