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CES 2022: Qualcomm Partners With Microsoft On AR Glasses

Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon made the announcement during one of the few in-person press conferences held during CES 2022 in Las Vegas.

Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon told a crowd at CES 2022 that his company will develop a custom Snapdragon chip for lightweight augmented reality glasses by Microsoft. The chip will use software from both companies—Microsoft Mesh and the Qualcomm Snapdragon Spaces XR development platform.

“We’ve been talking for years about the possibility of having wearable augmented reality devices that will gain scale,” Amon said. “I’m very excited about this partnership. It’s a step in making that a reality and gaining more and more scale with augmented reality.”

Amon made the announcement during one of the few in-person press conferences held during CES 2022 in Las Vegas. Because of the spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19, the conference held physical and online-only events. Several major companies also dropped out of physically attending CES 2022, including Amazon, T-Mobile and Microsoft.

[RELATED: CES 2022: Announcements, News, And Product Coverage]

Amon focused his CES 2022 talk on Qualcomm’s innovations in the auto industry, promising to take lessons from growing market share in the mobile space into a new arena.

“If you look at what was the success of Qualcomm in mobile, unlike some of our competitors that have been focused on providing a component into an OEM, Qualcomm has been involved in every single aspect of mobile,” Amon said. “From standards—early on, on standards—regulatory, mobile and telecoms, highly regulated environments.”

He continued: “We have the ability to create horizontal platforms that companies can innovate on top of. We just apply the same recipe to automotive because the similarities are incredibly remarkable.”

Microsoft Mesh On The Road

When asked about the possibility of bringing Microsoft Mesh into cars, Amon expressed interest.

“I can see why augmented reality could benefit you—for example, as you wear glasses, you get information that is delivered to you that gets superimposed on your reality—I can see that could be also capabilities that you can have on display in a car,” Amon said. “So I think it’s fair to assume that could be an interesting evolution as now the car is part of the network and is connected.”

When asked by CRN about the business opportunity around augmented reality, Amon said technicians might use AR glasses to view a digital twin of a car before working on it. Workers can use AR glasses for research and training.

“Digital twins are a reality as we think about a cloud-connected economy,” he said. “And you have the ability when you connect the physical world with the digital world to have incredible use cases. This is how the metaverse is going to take shape.”

In response to CRN’s question about the business opportunity in virtual reality, Amon discussed Qualcomm’s work with utility companies to build digital twins of substations to help with 5G and Internet of Things solutions. He said the need for Qualcomm only grows as more companies invest in digital twins of conference rooms and social networks.

“That’s the role of Qualcomm into the metaverse. That’s why we’re the ticket to the metaverse,” he said. “We’re the gateway that connects the physical to the digital world with the devices that we build that allow you to have a virtual reality, augmented reality experience.”

Microsoft unveiled its Mesh mixed reality platform during its Ignite 2021 conference. At the time, CEO Satya Nadella compared Mesh’s expected effect on mixed reality to what Xbox Live did for gaming.

He talked about engineers using Mesh to collaborate on 3-D models in a virtual space and company gatherings for remote workers. Mesh runs on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform and integrates with Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 mixed reality headset.

Microsoft Mesh On Teams

In November, Microsoft announced plans to launch a preview of Mesh-enabled capabilities for Teams users on PC, mobile and mixed-reality headsets in the first half of 2022.

Across the Microsoft cloud, “from Azure IoT, to Azure Digital Twins, to Connected Spaces and Microsoft Mesh, we are building ... the metaverse platform for you to build upon,” Nadella said during Ignite Fall 2021. “In a sense, the metaverse enables us to embed computing into the real world, and to embed the real world into computing, bringing real presence to any digital space. For years, we’ve talked about creating this digital representation of the world. But now we actually have the opportunity to go into that world and participate in it.”

Users will have the ability to share and collaborate spatially on existing Microsoft 365 documents, presentations and content, according to the company. Users can make avatars for meetings and make them express emotions with live reactions. Organizations also can create branded immersive spaces that look like conference rooms, design centers and networking lounges.

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