Niantic Shows an AR Headset Reference Design with Snapdragon AR2


Niantic took the stage today at the 2022 Snapdragon Summit to show off the “latest iteration” of its outdoor AR headset reference design. The company, which was spun off from Google as part of the Alphabet reorganization in 2015, is best known for Pokémon Go.

The design is “not final,” with a slim see-through display and other compute hardware housed in a rear piece. A fabric-like band connects the two pieces.

Niantic’s first prototype was powered by a Snapdragon XR2 Gen 1 tethered to a phone and battery via wires. The stems have two visible cameras that are “optimized for the outdoor use case.”

The hardware reference design demonstrates the potential for outdoor-capable AR headsets. They can use the Niantic map to orient themselves and render information and virtual worlds on the physical world.

The cameras are much more hidden on Niantic’s Snapdragon AR2 Gen 1-powered reference design. Primarily at the bridge of the headset, but there are also lenses on each side. According to Niantic, user feedback identified five critical requirements, beginning with comfort. And the company is aiming for “long play sessions” lasting 1-2 hours and weighing less than 250 grams.

A wireless design will also require because it gets in the way of active play. “Other requirements included portability, compactness, and power, with Niantic stating that it wants to “really augment the experience.”

The generation aimed at providing a chip that supported both enhanced and augmented reality use cases. Qualcomm made reference to the Snapdragon AR2 Gen 1 as the company’s first functional AR chip. It has a “multi-chip distributed processing architecture” with an AR processor, and AR co-processor.  

Real-world footage captured by prototype hardware depicts the experiences currently under development, according to Niantic.

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