Today at the Snapdragon 2022 Summit, Niantic took the stage to showcase the “latest iteration” reference design of outdoor augmented reality headset. The company, which was spun off from Google in 2015 as part of the Alphabet reorganization, is best known for Pokémon Go.
The design is not final” with a relatively thin transparent display, while other computing equipment appears to be placed at the back of the head. The two parts are connected by a braid similar to fabric.
The first Niantic prototype (see below) was equipped with a Snapdragon XR2 Gen 1 processor, which was connected via wires to the phone and battery. “Optimized for [Niantic] outdoor use”, there are two obvious cameras on the stems.
Hardware reference The design demonstrates the potential of augmented reality headsets for outdoor use that can navigate with a Niantic map and display information and virtual worlds on top of the physical world.
First (XR2) Prototype
The Snapdragon AR2 Gen 1 based Niantic reference design has the cameras much more hidden, mostly on the headset bridge, but there are also lenses on each side. Niantic says it has identified five critical requirements based on user feedback, starting with usability. The company focuses on “long gaming sessions” which are described as lasting 1-2 hours and weighing less than 250 grams.
A wireless design was needed so that the wires “[do not] interfere with active play.” Other requirements were portable, compact and powerful, with Niantic saying they wanted to “really expand the world”.
Qualcomm described the Snapdragon AR2 Gen 1 as its first purpose-built augmented reality chip after previous generations focused on offering a chip that supports both augmented and virtual reality use cases. It has a “multi-chip distributed processing architecture”. consisting of an AR processor, an AR co-processor, and connectivity (to a phone or computer “host device”), which are not on the same board, but are located on two side bars and even on the glasses bridge.
Niantic2 shared &802 ;real footage through the lens of [their] prototype devices that demonstrate capabilities that are already in development today.” People use the portable controller to point and select augmented/virtual content.
There are several use cases in games, but notable are guided navigation (such as Google Maps Live View) and one demo that overlays business information (cafes) on a real map.
In addition to Niantic, Qualcomm said that Lenovo, LG, Nreal, OPPO, Pico, QONOQ, Rokid, Sharp, TCL, Tencent, Vuzix and Xiaomi are in “various stages development” with AR2 Gen 1.
In the meantime, Microsoft has been working with Qualcomm on AR2 Gen 1 for some time, and Redmond is positioning its cloud (Azure) as a support for augmented reality.
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