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Augmented World Expo (AWE), an annual event showcasing the latest advancements in augmented reality (AR), recently covered everything from the latest hardware and tools to ethics and implications for humanity. In this blog post, we review Your Ticket to the Metaverse presented by our very own Hugo Swart, VP and GM of XR, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.
Your Ticket to the Metaverse
One of the biggest themes of AWE 2022 was the Metaverse, a topic discussed at great lengths across many presentations. The key takeaway – the Metaverse is poised to become a killer area for AR applications.
Hugo opened by reiterating that we are no stranger to AR by showcasing our company’s 15-year involvement in the field.
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Since our initial research in 2007, we’ve had several teams build AR solutions like our Snapdragon XR2 5G Platform, and now our new Snapdragon Spaces XR Developer Platform (more on this below).
Hugo emphasized that AR hardware is trending towards lightweight, ergonomic headsets that immerse users in the digital content, rather than forcing people to look down at the content through smartphones. Augmented reality technology is powered by split processing, where the glasses gather and send data to the user’s smartphone for processing and then render an AR view based on data returned from the phone. By engaging the smartphone to perform this heavy lifting, headsets remain light and power-efficient, ideally consuming less than one watt. Going forward, Hugo envisions this processing to be shared amongst a constellation of other devices that surround us, including our PCs, connected cars, home routers, etc.
The exciting part for developers lies in the implementation, and Hugo made some exciting announcements around the Snapdragon Spaces platform for AR development. Snapdragon Spaces XR Developer Platform provides developers with SDKs for Unity and Unreal, and a hardware developer kit (HDK) currently consisting of the Lenovo ThinkReality A3 smart glasses and Motorola edge+ smartphone.
Developers interested in purchasing the HDK should check out the Snapdragon Spaces Hardware Development Kit page.
Another exciting update from the AWE presentation was our Snapdragon Spaces Pathfinder Program, which provides early access to software releases, HDKs, marketing, and developer support. Twenty-three companies (including Tripp, forwARdgame, Resolution, and Echo3D just to name a few) are now benefiting from the program, and we’re excited to see how they take advantage of its resources. Developers interested in this program can apply here.
Developers now have software constructs and hardware capabilities for implementing AR functionality across 2D screens and head-worn displays. The roadmap of features includes positional tracking, anchors, plane detection, hand tracking, and more. Initially, ten companies participated in our early-access program to help mature the Snapdragon Spaces platform.
The platform can now benefit several types of developers who wish to enter AR:
- Mobile AR: Based on feedback from our early access developers, it should be straightforward to port existing AR experiences and content from other AR platforms to Snapdragon Spaces.
- AR as a Feature: Embracing AR as a feature means developers can enter AR by migrating parts of their 2D content onto head-worn AR glasses to enhance existing experiences. This approach can reduce the barrier of entry into AR by adding an AR layer that works together with content on the main 2D screen. Hugo showed an example of a racetrack map rendered in AR glasses that updates as the user plays a racing game on their smartphone.
- VR: With the popularity of AR, developers can port their VR experiences and content to AR. In the simplest case, Hugo suggests simply removing VR backgrounds from existing games or apps, so objects exist in AR space.
These benefits were further corroborated by Paul Brady, president of Resolution Games. Their Demo game for AR was built in approximately three weeks, thanks to the ease of transition provided by Snapdragon Spaces.
Snapdragon Spaces is also benefiting other game companies. As Hugo discussed, we are helping Square Enix transition their existing 2D games to AR using Snapdragon Spaces.
Finally, let’s get back to the metaverse and, more specifically, our Snapdragon Metaverse Fund. This initiative will invest up to $100 million in innovative developers and companies building immersive experiences with AR, mixed reality, and VR. As announced by Hugo, Echo3D and TRIPP are now the first two companies benefitting from this great opportunity, and we can’t wait to see what these and other dynamic companies will create.
Make AR a Reality Today!
Missed the event? Check out the following keynotes from the event on YouTube:
- AWE USA 2022 Main stage keynotes: Day 1
- AWE USA 2022 Main stage keynotes: Day 2
- AWE USA 2022 Main stage keynotes: Day 3
Then head to our Snapdragon Spaces Developer Portal and start building your next great AR experience.
Snapdragon and Snapdragon Spaces are products of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries. Snapdragon Spaces Pathfinder is a program of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.