Though not even remotely ready for everyday service, 5G is going to be the buzz word of 2019. Right now, companies are racing to meet the inevitable network upgrade on both feet. Qualcomm, American smartphone chip maker, jumps on 5G train with promoting a platform that would enhance VR and AR viewing experience when connected to a smartphone. Dubbed XR optimized, Qualcomm 5G chips will make use of USB-C port to run apps on headset devices.
This year’s Mobile World Congress already has a winner. Microsoft unveiling HoloLens 2 is the news we’ve been waiting for, but it has hardly any merit to regular consumers. This one however, does. Qualcomm sneaking a USB-C support for XR inside their Snapdragon 855 mobile chips will help connect new headsets to the upcoming 5G phones. The company hopes to make XR Optimized brand that would result in producing lighter, more affordable mobile AR and VR devices in the future.
Announcing Qualcomm 5G chips, the company also revealed plans to help promote smartphone-powered headsets in the coming years. If the name puzzles you, XR means simply VR or AR. The two devices that Qualcomm is supporting right now are Acer OJO and nreal Light, both very different in terms of what they are. Qualcomm does not have a horse in this race, the company will support every headset that that fits into their Snapdragon 855 ecosystem, though we keep hearing the VR producer Pico mentioned in the list of future supported devices.
The chipmaker’s plans are fairly obvious, and the reason enough to wish it well. The use of 5G in XR devices through Qualcomm 5G chips means faster streaming of higher-quality media at lower prices. ‘Mobile XR’, says the Qualcomm Head of PM Hugo Swart, ‘has the potential to become as big as the smartphone as an opportunity for Qualcomm’. Tethered to a phone and using its chip, new VR and AR devices will ‘use smartphones as a tool to augment immersive experiences’ reach’.
If this sounds like a win-win situation for Qualcomm and XR device producers, we can link another ‘win’ into the chain. Network service providers are invited to join the initiative and many answered in kind. Sprint, Telstra, SK Telecom, and LG U+ are some of the providers have joined already in hope to further promote the benefits of 5G networks. Smartphone producers too, are invited to chip in, linking another win into the chain. They are the obvious beneficiaries of Qualcomm 5G chips and HTC, Asus, Oppo, Vivo, OnePlus, and Xiaomi have already signed up.
And there’s the final win – the consumers. Now that the first 5G phone has arrived, we can expect a lot more of them to follow. Qualcomm 5G chips initiative could democratize the VR and AR platforms making the upcoming devices lighter, cheaper, and above all, easier to plug in. Maybe this is the way for Virtual and Augmented Reality to make a decisive push into our everyday lives.