Microsoft and Qualcomm working on custom chips to help create lightweight AR glasses

HoloLens
HoloLens (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Qualcomm will work with Microsoft to develop custom chips for augmented reality.
  • The resulting chips would allow companies to make smaller and more efficient AR glasses.
  • Microsoft's HoloLens 2 runs on the Snapdragon 850 CPU, which is made by Qualcomm.

Microsoft and Qualcomm announced an expanded partnership centering on augmented reality (AR) at CES 2022. The companies will work together to expand AR within the consumer and enterprise sectors. The partnership includes the development of custom AR chips that will allow companies to make lightweight glasses for augmented reality.

The hardware that comes forth from this partnership will integrate with software such as Microsoft Mesh and the Snapdragon Spaces XR Developer platform.

Qualcomm's press release on the partnership doesn't share any specifics about upcoming hardware. It's likely safe to say that the collaboration between Microsoft and Qualcomm is good news for those hoping to see consumer-aimed AR devices.

Microsoft's HoloLens 2, which runs on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 850, is an enterprise-focused machine. It's used by NASA and several large organizations in a variety of ways. There's even a HoloLens 2 Industrial Edition that's used in cleanrooms and hazardous environments.

Qualcomm's statement shows that AR will continue to be a focus of enterprise development, but that augmented reality could also have a place for general consumers.

"This collaboration reflects the next step in both companies' shared commitment to XR and the metaverse," said Qualcomm's vice president and general manager of XR Hugo Swart. "Qualcomm Technologies' core XR strategy has always been delivering the most cutting-edge technology, purpose-built XR chipsets and enabling the ecosystem with our software platforms and hardware reference designs. We are thrilled to work with Microsoft to help expand and scale the adoption of AR hardware and software across the entire industry."

"Our goal is to inspire and empower others to collectively work to develop the metaverse future – a future that is grounded in trust and innovation," added Microsoft's corporate vice president Mixed Reality Rubén Caballero. "With services like Microsoft Mesh, we are committed to delivering the safest and most comprehensive set of capabilities to power metaverses that blend the physical and digital worlds, ultimately delivering a shared sense of presence across devices. We look forward to working with Qualcomm Technologies to help the entire ecosystem unlock the promise of the metaverse."

With metaverse being a buzzword going into 2022, we can likely expect more companies to get on board with augmented reality and related technologies. Microsoft already brought the metaverse to Microsoft Teams with its Mesh tech.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

3 Comments
  • Apple will be its own thing as it always is.
    but I think Microsoft software wise will be the main platform most companies use. of course there will also be a surface brand version of glasses from Microsoft Hardware. but the rest of the companies that make AR glasses Hardware will most likely use Microsoft software.
    This news in combination with the Samsung Microsoft news arrangement to get a product out by 2024 on a side note makes me think Google is way behind and has nothing Hardware or software near ready hence why everyone is going to Microsoft for software.
    As for Facebook well their reputation is shot so I don't imagine too many people are going to want to work with them especially since they're having to start from scratch. We're as Microsoft already has six years going on working on it
  • Bring it on. I have wanted a Hololens since they first started talking about it. Would love to see a consumer version.
    If the past is anything to go by, Apple will release something and make a big push on the market with all their fan's. MS will finally release a version, ignore it for a year with no updates, no specific software, no advertising or marketing it, then finally kill it because no one is buying and sit back to wonder why. But yes. sadly, I would probably still buy one. :-D
  • I was expecting the next version of hololens will be powered by Microsoft's own cpu. I am not too excited about this partnership until tested as their previous partnership for custom chip inside surface pro x is not good enough. Microsoft is working in this platform for long time. They should have prepared a powerful chip for hololens 3 and then partnered with others to integrate their platforms.
    Apple will release VR with mac level power and go ahead again like they did with ARM powered macbook. Hope MS prepares a good chip this time to dominate the market.