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Samsung, Google, and Qualcomm team up on mixed reality platform

Published Feb 2nd, 2023 6:50AM EST
Qualcomm, Samsung, and Google execs talking about next-gen mixed reality headset tech at Unpacked 2023.
Image: Samsung

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Mixed reality refers to computing experiences that involve augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR). The most exciting mixed reality rumors in today’s tech landscape concern Apple. Its imminent AR/VR headset is expected to revolutionize this particular business. But Apple isn’t the only tech giant devising mixed reality devices. Samsung invited Google and Qualcomm to its Galaxy S23 Unpacked event on Wednesday to announce they’re working on a mixed reality platform of their own.

Qualcomm’s CEO Cristiano Amon and Google’s SVP of Android Hiroshi Lockheimer took the stage together with Samsung’s mobile division president TM Roh at the event. They discussed the hardware and software features that would power mixed reality experiences.

Amon mentioned the Snapdragon XR technology that will power Samsung products and Google experiences on mixed reality devices. “We’re working to create a new era of highly immersive digital experiences that blur the lins between our physical and digital worlds,” the CEO said.

“Google’s been investing for a long time across both experiences and technology in AR and VR,” Lockheimer said. “These technologies are integral to the new phase of computing as it can change the way we interact with people and information to get things done in the real world.”

“But delivering this next generation of experiences requires cutting-edge advanced hardware and software,” he continued. “That’s why our collaboration with Samsung and Qualcomm is so exciting.”

Apple mixed reality glasses render - side view.
Apple mixed reality glasses render – side view. Image source: Ian Zelbo

Lockheimer highlighted Google’s efforts to add AR experiences to Android. He said Google scaled ARCore to 1 billion Android devices. Moreover, Google supports AR search on YouTube, Google Maps, and Google Lens.

While all of that sounds exciting, the trio did not reveal any new device or a roadmap to launch one. Apple should to unveil its mixed reality headset this spring and launch it in stores by the end of the year.

Samsung, Google, and Qualcomm practically delivered a joint declaration that they want to work closely together to create gadgets that support mixed reality features. But there’s no telling how long it’ll take to see such a Samsung-branded mixed reality headset rocking Qualcomm tech and Google AR software in stores.

Also, let’s remember that Samsung manufactured smartphone-powered VR headsets before. But those gadgets weren’t exactly must-have products. The company stopped producing the Gear VR headset some six years ago.

That said, the more competition in the space, the more exciting the rollout of next-gen AR/VR headsets will be. Apple and Samsung aren’t the only tech companies developing such devices. Meta, Microsoft, Sony, and HTC are working on similar headsets or selling VR products already. The focus is more on VR content consumption than anything else when it comes to the commercially available headsets.

That’s why Apple’s upcoming $3,000 AR/VR headset is expected to change the paradigm. And many of Apple’s rivals might very well end up copying Apple’s AR/VR experience.

Apple’s one significant advantage over Samsung in this AR/VR headset race is that it controls everything. Apple makes its M-series chips that will power the AR/VR headset and creates the software for it. Samsung will need assistance from Qualcomm and Google for the critical hardware and software that will power its mixed reality headset.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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