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Qualcomm teams with Microsoft to accelerate AR for consumers and enterprises

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Qualcomm Technologies has teamed up with Microsoft to accelerate the adoption of augmented reality (AR) in both the consumer and enterprise sectors.

Both companies are believers in the metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One. It’s interesting to see mobile giant Qualcomm ally with Microsoft, which has pushed AR through its HoloLens technology. We’ll see many such alliances as big tech companies, game creators, and others compete to make the metaverse real.

Qualcomm Technologies is working with Microsoft across several initiatives to drive the ecosystem, including developing custom AR chips to enable a new wave of power efficient, lightweight AR glasses to deliver rich and immersive experiences, said Cristiano Amon, CEO of Qualcomm, in a press event at the CES 2022 tech trade show in Las Vegas.

“This collaboration reflects the next step in both companies’ shared commitment to XR and the metaverse,” said Hugo Swart, vice president and general manager of XR at Qualcomm, in a statement.  “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.”

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Qualcomm is making a custom AR chip for the Microsoft ecosystem. It will be for lightweight AR glasses, Amon said. The platform will be available for next-generation lightweight glasses, he said.

“I’m very excited about this partnership,” Amon said.

Amon said the companies plan to integrate software like Microsoft Mesh and Snapdragon Spaces XR Developer Platform.

“Our goal is to inspire and empower others to collectively work to develop the metaverse future – a future that is grounded in trust and innovation,” said Rubén Caballero, corporate vice president of mixed reality, at Microsoft, in a statement. “With services like Microsoft Mesh, we are committed to delivering the safest and most comprehensive set of capabilities to power metaverses that blend the physical and digital worlds, ultimately delivering a shared sense of presence across devices. We look forward to working with Qualcomm Technologies to help the entire ecosystem unlock the promise of the metaverse.”

Separately, Amon said it continues to support Arm-based chips and hardware for Windows on Arm. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon technology is leading that enterprise charge, and the company is allied with Microsoft, Acer, Asus, HP, and Lenovo. More than 200 enterprise customers are using Windows on Snapdragon on laptops.

Amon said Qualcomm’s horizontal business model enables it to build ecosystems of multiple companies, and over the long run this creates big advantages.

“Arm is inevitable,” Amon said. “Convergence of mobile and PC is real.”

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