Qualcomm announces ecosystem collaboration for XR viewers for 5G Smartphones

February 27, 2019 – Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. announced today at MWC Barcelona broad ecosystem support from OEMs, operators, and platform providers to deliver the next generation of mobile immersive computing experiences with extended reality (XR) viewers connected to 5G smartphones.

XR viewers provide a lightweight headset form factor that offer interactive AR and VR experiences with high-resolution displays and Six Degrees of Freedom (6DoF) tracking. XR viewers are designed to connect to smartphones based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform, tethered via USB Type-C.

With the benefits that 5G affords like high data rates and low latency, Qualcomm believes that XR viewers can be optimized and commercial-ready for the mobile industry in 2019. To support compatibility requirements, the company has also announced it will expand its HMD Accelerator Program (HAP) to include and help pre-validate components and performance between smartphones and XR viewers.

“Our HMD Accelerator Program has been a critical catalyst for ecosystem partners ranging from component suppliers and ODMs, to bring quality standalone XR headsets to consumers,” said Hugo Swart, Senior Director, Product Management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “Building upon the momentum of this program, we will extend it to XR viewers and compatible smartphones, starting with smartphones enabled by the Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform. In collaboration with ecosystem stakeholders, we are working towards the common goal of transforming how the world connects and communicates by offering premium, immersive experiences over 5G.”

Qualcomm anticipates that XR viewers will allow smartphone manufacturers to bundle offerings at point of sale and bring new experiences to customers as the ecosystem unveils new 5G use cases. XR viewer manufacturers have recently shown new designs that support USB-C connectivity, including VR viewers like the Acer OJO HMD, and more recently the nreal light MR glasses.

With smartphone brands such as OnePlus, OPPO, Vivo, Xiaomi and BlackShark aiming to commercialize Snapdragon 855 smartphones in 2019, the XR viewer initiative can expand the range of offerings to bring innovative content and a greater set of services to consumers.

Furthermore, several telecoms operators around the globe have been gearing up their efforts to implement the next generation of wireless networks to make 5G and its key benefits – high bandwidth, low latency, and high quality of service – a commercial reality.

As well as smartphone and XR viewer manufacturers and telecoms providers, platform and content providers will also play an important role in driving immersive content and applications over 5G. Companies including Arvizio, NetEase-AR, Iconic Engine, NextVR, SenseTime, Vive Wave and Wikitude also are ready to support the initiative according to Qualcomm.

Qualcomm stated that as it continues to support ecosystem integration across XR viewers, accessories, smartphones and content providers, communication will be key for a seamless consumer buying experience. Later this year, Qualcomm and its HAP collaborators are expected to work towards implementing a new easily-recognizable XR viewer performance and compatibility badge icon. Qualcomm’s work with ecosystem partners aims to turn XR viewers from a concept into a new category by the end of 2019.

Image credit: Qualcomm

Qualcomm also documented several quotes from its partners in its press release:

Acer OJO
“Acer is enabling a XR headset with high-resolution displays and 6 degrees-of-freedom positional tracking for Snapdragon 855-based smartphones. We’re ready to work with smartphone OEMs and operators worldwide to deliver the 5G + VR experiences,” said Andrew Chuang, General Manger, Presence Computing, IT Product Business, Acer Inc.

“During 2019, we will see a new generation of XR viewers enter the market that tether with powerful 5G smartphones to deliver highly detailed, life size 3D collaboration experiences for the enterprise,” said Jonathan Reeves, Founder & CEO, Arvizio. “Arvizio is excited to work with Qualcomm Technologies to deliver on this vision to provide rich XR experiences for multiple users extended across locations.”

Brian Tang, ROG Product Manager, said: “We appreciate the new XR viewer initiative and believe along with the supporting next-generation ecosystem it will definitely provide consumers with a step change in the way they perceive and experience immersive content over 5G.”

“Gamers have high expectations for the immersive experience of the game. The combination of XR viewers and our premium gaming smartphones will for sure give the best visual experience and game-playing experience for them,” said Peter Wu at BlackShark.

“Our VIVE Wave SDK and platform has enabled mobile VR content development and interoperability across a variety of mobile VR headsets and accessories,” said Daniel O’Brien, General Manager Americas, HTC VIVE. “As the mobile VR industry expands and XR viewers powered by 5G smartphones emerge, our platform will allow for easy adoption and standardization of software and hardware support.”

KDDI Corporation
“We look forward to providing our customers with transformative experiences through AR/VR viewers,” said Yasuhisa Yamada, Administrative Officer, Associate Executive Director, Product & Customer Service Sector, KDDI. “Qualcomm Technologies continues to drive ecosystem acceleration, and our collaboration allows us to bring innovative XR experiences as an essential part in KDDI’s integration of telecommunications and life design strategy in the coming 5G era.”

KT Corp
Mr. Lee Hyeon-seuk, Senior Vice President of KT’s Device Business Group, said: “Qualcomm Technologies and KT has a strong history of working together to drive innovation, most recently with cutting-edge 5G technology. KT believes that new 5G-enabled offerings like XR viewers will be instrumental in helping consumers take full advantage of all the 5G benefits.”

“We have been working closely with Qualcomm Technologies with regards to 5G. We especially look forward to a lot of cooperation for AR/VR devices connecting with 5G smartphones to provide customers with new experiences of AR/VR content.” said Junhyung Kim, VP of 5G Service Group for LG U+.

“We are big believers in AR glasses and how much change it will bring to society within the next few years,” said Chen Zhao, Head of AR for NetEase. “AR viewers that can be connected to Snapdragon 855 5G-enabled smartphones will pave the path for this journey to happen in 2019. NetEase-AR platform supports content providers to create, optimize, share and commercialize high-performance AR experience. We have compelling, vibrant ecosystem content and compelling content created for AR on smartphones that can easily and quickly be ported to the glass form-factor.”

“The increased resolution, high bandwidth, and streamlined form-factor of XR viewers connected to 5G handsets offer a big evolutionary step in immersive consumer devices,” said David Cole, CEO of NextVR. “As the world’s largest global immersive live sports, music and entertainment provider, we are continuing to evolve our platform to deliver the highest fidelity and most realistic immersive experiences possible for XR viewer users.”

“We’re pioneering the next consumer-grade mixed reality interface and by connecting nreal light to a 5G-enabled smartphone, it augments the real world and introduces a completely new way of interacting with environments at work or at leisure,” said Chi Xu, CEO and founder of nreal. “nreal light for the first time is lightweight and comfortable enough to wear for hours and boasts a rich immersive experience thanks to a crisp 1080P resolution display and 6 degrees-of-freedom SLAM tracking processed on Snapdragon 855.”

“OnePlus is delighted to bring 5G-based intelligent mobile products to consumers this year,” said Oliver Zhang, Head of Product at OnePlus. “Our goal with Qualcomm Technologies is to support key industry collaborations to offer transformative 5G experiences, and XR viewers demonstrate a strong offering that will deliver superior video streaming, enhanced entertainment along with other high bandwidth applications.”

Pico Interactive Inc.
“Pico has been working with Qualcomm Technologies for the past four years in the VR area and successfully launched a standalone HMD since Qualcomm Snapdragon 820,” Said Henry Zhou, CEO of Pico, “We utilized the HAP program to quickly commercialize products with good mobile experiences. Now we are looking forward to expanding our product portfolio to include the sleekest VR HMDs which will bring the overall user experience to a new level.”

“We have been collaborating with Qualcomm Technologies on multiple fronts. AR is the next mobile computing frontier and we look forward to collaborating with smartphone OEMs and platform providers to help create the market with our AR Platform,” said Dr. Xiaogang Wang, Co-founder of SenseTime and Managing Director of SenseTime Research.

SK Telecom
“Through development of AR and VR technologies, SK Telecom built ‘T real Platform’ based on which ‘oksusu Social VR’ has been commercialized to deliver new and unprecedented media experiences to customers,” said Jeon Jinsoo, Vice President and Head of Media Labs of SK Telecom. “With the commercialization of 5G, SK Telecom will offer new AR and VR services that can be experienced by a greater number of customers, while collaborating closely with XR viewer related partners to expand overall AR and VR ecosystems.”

“We welcome the advent of XR viewers as a low-friction path for 5G smartphone customers to access immersive AR and VR experiences in 2019”, said Ryan Sullivan, Vice President, Product Engineering and Development for Sprint. “We are investing significantly in our 5G network to make these types of experiences possible and look forward to the continued acceleration of the immersive compute ecosystem”.

Adrian Bolliger, EVP & Head of Mobile Business Solutions, Swisscom said: “Entertainment is just one use case of these immersive experiences over 5G. We do see many additional possibilities for our enterprise customers such as field service operations, maintenance, BIM-systems in the building industry, retail and many more. We are delighted to see the emergence of XR viewers to support both consumer and enterprise use cases to reach the masses with 5G.”

Telstra’s Network Engineering Executive, Channa Seneviratne, said: “Telstra is committed to exploring new technologies and their potential use cases for Australian consumers, enterprises and the industry more broadly. We continue to work closely with Qualcomm Technologies and as part of our technology trials and testing, we continue to explore the range of possibilities that can be provided with 5G and emergent technologies including XR. This partnership is crucial to ensure Australians are among the first in the world to access 5G devices.”

“XR technology will allow us to deliver a truly immersive experience to our customers, by utilizing 5G and multi-devices such as smartphones, visors and smart glasses. Together with Qualcomm Technologies, we are designing and testing these new services at the 5G Innovation Hub we recently opened in Rome,” said Attilio Somma, VP Innovation, TIM.

“5G will be a transformative technology that brings all types of new experiences” said Fred Wong Vice President of Creativity and Innovation at Vivo. “We are pleased to join Qualcomm Technologies in enabling the XR ecosystem to unleash amazing experiences over 5G smartphones connected to XR viewers.”

Zhang Lei, Senior Director, Smartphone R&D, Xiaomi, said: “Xiaomi will bring 5G-enabled smartphones to consumers this year and XR viewers are an important step towards optimizing the full potential of 5G, as a way to offer premium content and take advantage of low latency and high bandwidth, and the many other benefits stemming from 5G.”

About the author

Sam Sprigg

Sam is the Founder and Managing Editor of Auganix. With a background in research and report writing, he has been covering XR industry news for the past seven years.