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Extended reality (XR) is on track to transform industries by changing the way we live and work. Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. (QTI) leads the way in the XR ecosystem by delivering photo-realistic immersive realism, high quality 360° video, crystal-clear 3D audio, and extended battery life. And our Snapdragon® XR2 5G platform offers the potential of 5G’s speed-of-life interactions. Recently, XR viewers have been brought to commercialization, providing developers more opportunities to create exciting XR experiences.
In this blog, we’ll look at how the technologies which define XR viewers can enhance your development of both consumer and business-focused apps and inspire you with some real-world and future-looking case studies. We’ll also look at how QTI is collaborating with global operators to deliver XR Viewers and develop the ecosystem needed for manufacturers, suppliers, and developers to use XR to facilitate growth in this exciting new space.
The Benefits of XR Viewers
Taking XR to the next level of immersion requires overcoming several form factor limitations of current devices. Smartphones can be difficult to hold for long periods of time and current stand-alone smart glasses have limited battery life, display sizes are limited, and they can be uncomfortable to wear for extended periods. Additionally, phones on head-mounted displays may not provide six degrees of freedom (6DoF) needed for an optimal XR experience.
XR viewers by contrast look and feel more like typical glasses, while offering a range of enhanced capabilities. They can tether to smartphones that support higher data rates, lower latency, and edge processing for more immersive XR use cases with a smooth, lag-free experience. They include a high-resolution display with 6DoF, so you can actually walk around inside photorealistic virtual worlds; camera sensors for head and eye tracking, and smaller processors to keep the form factor light. Information collected by the sensors is sent to the smartphone, where most of the XR processing occurs.
Developing Consumer Focused Apps
Imagine having an 80-inch screen in front of you that is light weight and provides photorealistic visuals by combining on-device processing with edge cloud processing. This is the environment you have to create immersive mobile XR experiences for your consumer-focused apps. Here are some examples:
Experiential Apps with Next-gen 6DoF video: Current XR mobile devices allow you to visualize extended content when you’re standing in a stadium. 6DoF allows you to get in the middle of the stadium virtually and experience the game from anywhere. Creating this experience successfully though a mobile solution is challenging. If users don’t see what is expected, such as when they turn their head to the left in what feels like real time, they may experience the same cyber sickness symptoms as they would in a home virtual reality (VR) experience. High bandwidth support, a high-resolution display, and very low latency are critical for an enjoyable, realistic experience, which is why the combination of XR and 5G is the key to supporting 6DoF in any experiential app you create.
Multi-Player Gaming with Photorealistic Graphics: Similarly, if you are developing XR multiplayer gaming apps where two or more individuals all need to see the same virtual characters, you still need extremely low latency for 6DoF. However, XR viewers will also provide you with the high-resolution display needed to supply photo-realistic graphics, as well as eye-tracking capabilities. The advanced imagery you can provide along with real-time responses will help your players experience the ultimate goal of full game immersion.
Here are a few other ideas for consumer-focused experiences that can be created with XR viewer capabilities:
- Culture and Heritage Conservation: XR viewers could expand access to historic sites by allowing anyone to see extended information or even visit without physically being there. There is also an opportunity to provide additional historical information and interactions by allowing visitors to walk around and pick up virtual objects to learn about their history.
- Diplomacy: Cultural skill training can be provided in real-time to learn the cultural customs in a region where they are posted, to help them respectfully interact with locals and understand how to make a positive impact from the moment they arrive.
Developing Business and Industrial Focused Apps
A common misconception is that XR technologies are limited to the gaming and entertainment industries. Analysts suggest the industrial use of XR being three times larger than that of consumers, and while business uses of XR worldwide are growing steadily, it’s the manufacturing and construction industry alone that are forecasted to see over $35 billion USD spent on these technologies by 2023. We think that business and enterprise use of XR technology, coupled with 5G capabilities, will make XR viewers exponentially useful for the future of developing business solutions. Here is an example:
Virtual Offices with Real-Time Collaboration: Being able to create a virtual office or work location, provides the opportunity to create apps that provide real-time interactive collaboration, or even holographic assistants.
However, it doesn’t stop there.
Below is a rendering of an XR viewer for industrial use with a form factor that more closely resembles a standard pair of glasses. By adding multi-directional cameras, high-sensitivity audio components, and a variety of sensors, you can start to see the next level of applications that you could create.
Here are a few examples for industrial use cases:
Video Collaboration: These industrial level XR viewers, along with all of the aforementioned capabilities combined with 5G’s increased bandwidth, could streamline the development of real-time see-what-I-see solutions. We expect to see improved services in applications ranging from technicians in remote locations collaborating with centralized maintenance experts receiving instructions, to complex real-time engineering support, and even telemedicine.
Logistics and Warehousing: By keeping their hands free and receiving directions and visual cues directly in their field of view, warehouse workers could easily locate, collect, and deliver items with ease. Built-in sensors could easily replace handheld devices, to scan incoming supplies during inspection and relay that data in real-time to suppliers. Workers could use “vision picking” to guide order picking with heads-up information displaying package information, that can in turn increase efficiency in distribution and improve worker safety.
Building and Construction: Construction workers could have complex work instructions displayed and automatically updated as tasks are completed to provide real-time workflow sign-off. Structural inspections and errors could be more accurately and safely corrected through remote real-time assistance, especially in high-danger or physically challenging situations. Companies could quickly scale a workforce and respond to shifting demands, or seasonal peaks, with real-time AR training.
QTI is working with several global operators, smartphone OEMs and XR viewer manufacturers to deliver XR viewers to consumers and enterprises within the next year to help create the XR ecosystem the development community requires. To further this goal, QTI has established an XR Optimized certification program for smartphones built with Snapdragon, that offers device makers XR viewer specs, supporting software, and a branding badge so consumers can identify phones compatible with the headsets which support the applications you develop. To date, nine companies have compatible XR viewers, and 15 cellular operators are on board.
To learn more about XR Viewers, watch our webinar How to take advantage of XR over 5G: Understanding XR Viewers, or dig in deeper with our Q&A with Sajith Balraj, Director of Product Management at Qualcomm Technologies. If you are wanting to start an XR Viewer application you may want to look at our Snapdragon Developer Tools and don’t forget to tell us about your project!
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