Qualcomm has shown off a wireless version of its augmented reality glasses called the Smart Viewer, a reference design that manufacturers can adapt to commercial headsets.
These new glasses come as an update to the older smart glasses design from Qualcomm. It includes a more powerful processor , as well as a tethering system that uses Wi-Fi 6/6E and Bluetooth instead of a USB-C cable.
But the battery life is likely to be very short, although the company says that the consumer versions may be designed differently.
And the new Smart Viewer was developed by the Chinese company Goertek. The glasses are currently available to a few manufacturing partners with plans to expand reach in the coming months.
Like its predecessor, it connects to a phone or computer and offers mixed reality experiences with full head and hand tracking, using tracking cameras powered by Micro OLED screens.
Qualcomm maintained the previous resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and a refresh rate of 90 Hz. But it reduced the field of view slightly, reducing it from 45 degrees to 40 degrees diagonally.
The wireless Smart Viewer has a slimmer appearance than the wired Smart Viewer or most competitors. Its frames are 15.6mm in depth, compared to about 25mm for the wired version, easing the typical look of AR glasses.
This design, which uses free-form optics, can be difficult to achieve with a wider field of view.
The glasses weigh 115 grams, much less than the 503 grams of the Meta Quest 2 VR headset.
The Wireless Smart Viewer uses the Snapdragon XR2 chipset compared to the Snapdragon XR1 processor in the previous model.
The company says that this processor provides more power for processing computer vision and other tasks. Qualcomm promises a fast 3 millisecond latency between the glasses and the connected phone or computer, as long as your phone or computer has a FastConnect 6900 chip.
Don’t expect longer battery life for Qualcomm eyeglasses
The company has been planning a wireless headset for years, but the Smart Viewer still highlights one of the enduring challenges of augmented reality: making high-powered glasses that don’t run out of battery almost immediately.
The most demanding virtual experiences can drain the headset’s 650mAh battery in 30 minutes. But the default light and simple overlay can use much less power.
Users can also attach a plug-in battery with a cable, and manufacturers can choose to prioritize long-lasting headsets in their designs.
But current technology may not be able to support some of the more straightforward augmented reality applications, such as creating a set of virtual screens that you can use throughout the day at work.
Consumers may never buy devices that are exactly like the reference design as manufacturers can modify the system to their own specifications.
Qualcomm said it was working with at least four manufacturers. But it did not mention the names of those parties or how long it might take to commercialize the headset.
It used previous Qualcomm designs on existing products such as the Nreal Light and Lenovo ThinkReality A3. As a result, the Smart Viewer shows what wireless headphones may look like in the coming months and years.