January 17, 2022

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Microsoft and Qualcomm are building custom chips for AR glasses

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Qualcomm’s involvement with Microsoft is extending past chips for PCs. The two are partnering on a string of initiatives to foster augmented reality and the metaverse, including the development of custom chips for AR glasses. The companies were shy on the nature of the chips or the end products, but they promised “lightweight,” energy-efficient wearables. You might actually want to use this eyewear for extended periods, in other words.

The team-up will unsurprisingly make use of software, including Microsoft’s Mesh virtual collaboration tool and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Spaces XR development system. There wasn’t any mention of what platforms the glasses would support, although it’s safe to presume they’ll be Windows-friendly.

An alliance like this doesn’t come as a complete shock. Microsoft has long discussed plans to make AR more accessible than its work-oriented HoloLens headsets. These chips won’t necessarily reach consumer-oriented glasses, but they could represent a large step in that direction. For Qualcomm, this could also help it control the future of AR — it might not have to worry that Meta and other companies will dominate the metaverse and dictate its terms.

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