Qualcomm intros compatibility tests for tethered 5G XR headset-handset combos
Qualcomm has launched a certification programme for combining augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) devices and Snapdragon-based 5G smartphones. The programme will approve tethered AR and VR devices for use by enterprises, as well as consumers, within 12 months, it said.
At the same time, the firm has also said AR and VR devices that are tethered to 5G smartphones by USB-C cables will be “a 2020 reality”.
A number of mobile operators, headset makers, and smartphone manufacturers have agreed verbally to utilise the certification programme, for what the company is calling extended reality (XR) solutions, which utilise edge-based 5G-connected processing to go beyond the disciplines of AR and VR.
Qualcomm has organised a testing regime to rubber-stamp tethered connectivity between 5G smartphones running its Snapdragon 855 or 865 chips and a range of lightweight XR glasses from various manufacturers.
The new certification programme – the Qualcomm XR Optimized Certification Program, to give it its full title – validates compatibility between XR viewers and smartphones, including head-tracking performance, display calibration validation, motion to photon latency validation, power and thermal tests, and basic interoperability between the hardware.
Certifications are available for both smartphones and viewers. Device makers can verify compatibility between multiple phones and multiple viewers without running one-on-one optimisation.
Fifteen mobile operators have “shared plans to sample and commercialise XR viewers”, Qualcomm said. These are China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, EE, KDDI, KT, LG Uplus, NTT DOCOMO, Orange, SK Telecom, SoftBank, Telefonica, Verizon and Vodafone.
XR glasses are in testing from companies including 3Glasses, iQIYI, Nreal, OPPO, Panasonic, Pico, and Shadow Creator.
Much of the fanfare around AR and VR – and around XR from Qualcomm – is linked with the consumer space, but major swathes of industry reckon the enterprise market will drive real innovation in a kind of ying-and-yang for technological and industrial transformation.
Among a number of quotes in Qualcomm’s press statement, China-based Tianyi Telecom Terminals Company, a subsidiary of China Telecom, most clearly pointed to the breadth of appeal AR and VR technologies hold for industry, with 5G connectivity a major spur for momentum in the space.
Chen Li, deputy general manager of Tianyi Telecom Terminals Company, said: “5G connectivity has become a new driving force for social and economic development with profound impact to society as steam and electricity in the past. We are very pleased to combine our advantages in 5G and cloud network collaboration with Qualcomm’s leading XR technology, giving full play to technical expertise from both sides, to jointly drive the deployment of 5G and XR in industrial, medical, education and consumer fields in 2020.”
Qualcomm is going further to push the idea of ‘boundless XR’, which leverages industrial 5G and distributed AI, when powerful AR and VR headsets will lose their tethers and roam completely free.
Speaking with Enterprise IoT Insights, Brian Vogelsang, senior director of XR product management at the firm, noted 5G-connectivity will move into the XR devices themselves, which will leverage edge-based processing to run advanced solutions.
Vogelsang said: “With Boundless XR, an AR/VR device hosts some of the processing on-device and distributes heavier computing in edge computers located in the on-premise network. This will allow for more sophisticated and photorealistic graphics that some manufacturing facilities would require.”
Check out the editorial report on industrial AR, Industrial AR – and the rise of the workers. The report is available to download here.