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Qualcomm just unveiled Apple Glass rival — here’s what it can do

Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 AR Smart Viewer
(Image credit: Qualcomm)

The Apple Glass may not be arriving until 2023 at the earliest, but Qualcomm is looking to help Apple’s rivals get a jump on the big thing in wearables.

Qualcomm has unveiled its new Snapdragon XR1 AR Smart Viewer reference design, which aims to deliver “high quality, immersive experiences” while reducing the time it takes the makers of AR glasses to bring their products to market. 

According to Qualcomm's press release, the new AR Smart Viewer can tether to a smartphone, Windows PC or processing puck. Targeting enterprise and consumers, the Smart Viewer promises a number of use cases.

Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 AR Smart Viewer

(Image credit: Qualcomm)

For example, the Smart Viewer can render multiple virtual displays at once to increase your productivity when tethered to a PC. You can also launch multiple smartphone apps in their own virtual displays that can be anchored in the user’s environment. The glasses allow you to stream premium movies as well. 

The Smart Viewer also includes a number of cameras, starting with support for an 8MB RGB camera with image stabilization. The idea is to deliver hands-free “see what I see” scenarios, which could come in handy for getting support over the phone, training or education.

Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 AR Smart Viewer

(Image credit: Qualcomm)

In addition, there’s dual monochrome cameras on the Smart Viewer that enable six degrees of freedom for head tracking and hand tracking, complete with gesture recognition. 

Microsoft, Lenovo and Nreal are just some of the partners listed for this reference design mentioned in Qualcomm’s press release. However, there’s no timetable for when AR glasses that use this reference design would hit the market

Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 AR Smart Viewer

(Image credit: Qualcomm)

Qualcomm's design itself uses a mico-OLED display provided by BOE, and the frame rates scale up to 90Hz for reducing motion blur. Qualcomm says that the smart viewer hardware, developed by Goertek, enables manufacturers to “quickly scale and develop smart AR devices for commercial use.”

Qualcomm says that the Smart Viewer reference design is available now for select partners; wider availability will happen in the coming months. 

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for nearly 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.