2024 is upon us, and the XR industry never sleeps. With CES around the corner, the AR/VR/MR market is already rumbling just days into the new year, with many significant developments in the field of immersive solutions.
This week, Microsoft, Google, Samsung, Qualcomm, Meta and Sony moved to optimize their product offerings and business operations.
XR vendors are accentuating the importance of 2024 for the XR space due to key elements such as Apple’s headset, which is months away and Microsoft’s Industrial Metaerse roadmap, which is shipping its first products this month.
In the background, many startups and young XR companies could feel a shock wave of renewed interest in immersive solutions thanks to the influence of investments emanating from large international giants.
CES 2024 seems to have a strong XR presence this year. Before the immersive space focuses on the week ahead, here’s how XR took its first steps this year.
Qualcomm partners with Google and Samsung for new 4K XR chipsets
Qualcomm Technologies has unveiled a new chipset called the Snapdragon XR2+ Gen 2 platform, designed to improve the quality of XR displays, graphics and the overall user experience. The company also intends to support users and businesses using AR smart glasses with integrated AI capabilities.
The Snapdragon platform is the foundation for developing, deploying and using AR/VR/MR applications. The XR2+ Gen 2 chipset is an affordable vendor option that provides a lower barrier to entry for AR/VR/MR in the workplace.
In addition, the chipset also helps boost consumer and enterprise-class XR use cases on headsets and smart glasses, thanks to partnerships with Samsung, Google, Tobii and Goertek, providing visual clarity for gaming and productivity applications.
Qualcomm is positioning the XR2+ Gen 2 as a tipping point in XR hardware design and innovation due to its groundbreaking features and specifications combined with launch partners. Shahram Izadi, Vice President of AR at Googlenotes how Android ecosystem support will enable developers to partner with Samsung and Qualcomm to drive the future of immersive and spatial XR.
Qualcomm is working with over 5 OEM partners, including Samsung, HTC Vive, Immersed and Play for Dream, to leverage the hardware in real-world environments and deliver positive results and outcomes from the new technology. To continue its OEM success, Qualcomm is also developing an MR & VR reference design, which Goertek helped create and Tobii assisted by integrating its eye tracking technology.
Microsoft Axes MR platform
Microsoft recently announced that it would be discontinuing its Windows Mixed Reality platform; this decision comes after years of supporting the platform that allowed PC headset users to use it to run AR/VR/MR applications.
This announcement has raised concerns about the future of Hololens 2, which has faced many obstacles and controversies over the past two years. Last year, Microsoft also shut down its long-running Metaverse platform Altspace VR, transferring some of its development team to its Mesh platform.
However, the discontinuation of Windows Mixed Reality is unlikely to lead to a reduction in the company’s XR products. Microsoft looks to refine its XR products and focus on the launch of its industrial Metaverse platform, which will support its upcoming VR/MR services. Specifically, it will help the Mesh product, a 3D platform that will be the basis for Microsoft’s new VR/MR services — some of which are coming this month.
Meta unveils its most advanced XR technology
Andrew Bosworth, Meta’s CTO and Head of Reality Labsrecently talked about the latest innovations on an in-house prototype AR smart glasses device that Meta plans to launch this product later in the decade.
While the company is deeply involved in the development of Meta/Ray Ban hardware, it is also working on Project Nazare, a robust prototype AR smart glasses product. Despite several rumors surrounding the upcoming device, little is known about its features.
But Bosworth’s latest comments provide insight into the device’s capabilities and how it could transform the industry.
In the field of consumer electronics, it may be the most advanced thing we have ever produced as a species.
In other news, Meta has reduced the cost of its Quest 2 models and accessories in a strategic move to encourage VR headset adoption after the initial surge in popularity.
Making VR headsets more accessible to consumers is critical to driving industry-wide adoption and diffusion. Familiarizing audiences with immersive technology in their homes makes it more accessible to introduce AR/VR/MR devices to decision makers in the workplace.
Meta’s price cuts mean the 128GB Quest 2 now costs $249.99, the 256GB Quest 2 costs $299.99, while refurbished 128GB units cost $229.99 and 256GB units cost $269.99. Additionally, the company is reducing the cost of its included Quest 2 accessories, including the Elite Strap, Carrying Case, Elite Strap with Battery, Active Pack and Fit Pack.
Meta has also said that with its new pricing model, the Quest portfolio “remains the most affordable way to get into VR and experience everything our industry-leading content ecosystem has to offer.”
GeniusXR partners with Sony to create a Volumetric Capture Studio
Sony recently partnered with GeniusXR and The Alan B. Levan NSU Broward Center of Innovation to establish a Volumetric Capture Studio. The studio aims to create digital twins of real objects and people to meet various business and industry needs. The partnership will enable the companies to expand the use of digital twin technology and develop new use cases for volumetric capture technology.
The partnership also aims to innovate in XR and volumetric capture use cases for education, healthcare and engineering industries. The studio will provide training and introductory sessions for professionals interested in exploring digital twin technology and how businesses can leverage it.
The studio boasts of its volumetric technology, which can significantly speed up the creation of digital twins. The studio’s content creation platform is already equipped for the new wearable devices predicted to arrive in 2024, including AR, VR and MR devices.
The Levan Center of Innovation claims the studio can improve various business use cases. Marketing teams can create immersive customer experiences for better sales results using digital twins of real equipment or training items. The facility has a team of experts on site and leverages cameras and machine learning software technology from Sony to achieve these goals.
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