XR2 5G platform- Extended reality’s pivotal moment

Qualcomm launched the world’s first 5G XR platform during the annual Snapdragon tech summit, XR2. This is in addition to the XR1 platform which now has more than 30 devices in the market. The XR series are dedicated chips for eXtended Reality (XR) devices. These have had moderate success so far, mostly due to the limitations of the XR market, but true immersive experiences need a solid connectivity platform.

The ecosystem is expanding and over the past two years, we have seen devices launched by different partners with use cases across both consumer and enterprise segments. The chart from Qualcomm’s presentation highlights participants in the overall XR ecosystem.

XR Ecosystem

Source: Qualcomm Snapdragon Tech Summit 2019

With a faster tech transition from 4G to 5G on the horizon, the XR2 5G platform is a good move by Qualcomm to enable next-generation features and immersive experiences that demand ultra-low latency with great audio and visual level customizations. In such a scenario the XR2 5G platform brings significant performance improvements over the XR1. These performance improvements include 2X the CPU and GPU performance, 4X more video bandwidth, 6X higher resolution and 11X AI improvements. Additionally, the Snapdragon XR2 platform is also the world’s first to support seven concurrent cameras and a dedicated computer vision processor. This opens up the possibilities of different use cases, especially in the enterprise segment. The XR2 supports high graphics rendering, support for 8K 360 degree videos at 60fps and a custom silicon built to reduce latencies for immersive visual experiences. In audio, XR2 offers voice activation and context detection for certain use cases.

XR2 Platform

Source: Qualcomm Snapdragon Tech Summit 2019

Qualcomm said that it will maintain first generation XR platform, for now. We expect that Qualcomm will opt for a tiered approach, with XR1 targeting basic use cases within the entry to mid-tier products and XR2 5G powering premium devices.

We expect the first wave of XR2 devices will be in the enterprise segment. Manufacturing, industrial and gaming will lead when it comes to applications where 5G’s role will be critical in providing real immersive experiences. However, this category of devices will demand a strong push initially from ecosystem partners as its value lies in the experience. This holds true both for enterprise and consumer segments. Developers, hardware vendors, and operators will be watching this space closely. Niantic’s partnership with Qualcomm during the event for AR glasses is an indication that many partners are ready to adopt a platform powered by 5G that opens up a whole new set of possibilities.