Samsung, Google and Qualcomm are joining forces to build a new mixed reality platform

Samsung is the latest tech giant to turn to virtual and augmented reality. The smartphone maker says it will be collaborating with Google and Qualcomm on an upcoming mixed reality platform. Meanwhile, the message was shared Samsung Unpacked event on Wednesday and follows reports that suggest so Apple could release its first virtual reality headset this year. Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon and Google’s SVP for Android Hiroshi Lockheimer took the stage to jointly announce the collaboration.

Samsung hasn’t mentioned whether specific products are in development. It also didn’t include a timeline for upcoming mixed reality products or services.

“It’s more of a declarative announcement about how we’re going to do it right in trying to build the XR ecosystem,” said TM Roh, president of Samsung’s mobile division, in an interview with CNET through a translator ahead of the event.

“Google has a long history of investing in both experiences and technology in AR and VR,” Lockheimer said onstage. “Delivering these next-generation experiences requires state-of-the-art hardware and software. That is why our collaboration with Samsung and Qualcomm is so exciting.”

Mixed reality is a collective term for technologies that combine the properties of augmented and virtual reality. Augmented Reality blends software with the real world by overlaying graphics over the user’s surroundings, similar to Google Glass. In comparison, virtual reality includes the wearer in a 360-degree virtual world, such as Meta Quest 2.

However, a new wave of VR headsets is driving mixed reality via passthrough cameras, a technique that allows VR and AR technologies to be merged into one product line. Meta Quest 2 and Search Pro Headsets can do this as well as those to come Vive XR Elite. apples expected headset should contain the same concept.

The announcement is made at a time of increased interest in virtual, augmented and mixed reality. According to Bloomberg, Apple is expected to release a mixed reality headset in 2023 that could cost $3,000. Sony’s PlayStation VR 2 and HTC’s Vive XR Elite are both slated for launch this month, and Google unveiled new AR glasses aimed at speech translation at last year’s Google I/O. meta search 3 comes at the end of the year.

Aside from its Gear VR headset it’s launched, Samsung has been relatively quiet about virtual reality multiple iterations between 2015 and 2017. This device is a head worn holster for smartphone powered VR experiences. Roh says consumer demand for augmented and virtual reality has increased, which is why the company chose this time to begin discussing its plans. He says the company has been exploring the category for some time.

“And now we think we’ve reached a certain threshold,” he said.

The collaboration makes sense since Samsung, Google, and Qualcomm are already collaborating on the development of smartphones. Samsung is expanding the hardware of its Galaxy cell phones Qualcomm supplies the processor and Google manages the underlying Android operating system of the software.

Roh said that Google and Qualcomm will play similar roles in the development of this upcoming XR platform, although they will likely overlap in certain areas. Even if Qualcomm were to supply the processor, for example, Samsung could make some tweaks, just like the chip in the Galaxy S23 range.

“Every player takes the lead in every category and then we’re going to work very closely in the different categories,” said Roh.

CNET reached out to Qualcomm for comment on the partnership and received the following prepared statement: “Building on our existing collaborations with Samsung and Google, we have meaningful plans to advance XR experiences together. With our Snapdragon XR innovations—along with Samsung’s amazing products and Google’s technology—we have the foundation to make these possibilities a reality and power the future of the spatial internet.”

Qualcomm has been the chip supplier to nearly every major VR and AR headset for years, and has its own initiative to drive a wave of phone compatibility VR and AR headsets in the coming years. Qualcomm is also involved with Microsoft on his future AR glasses hardware and with Meta on his future devices. It’s unclear if this new collaboration will be compatible with Qualcomm’s existing one Snapdragon rooms Platform for headsets and phones.

When asked to comment, Google’s Kaori Miyake added, “We’re excited to be working with our partners to develop a new generation of immersive computing experiences that will continue to improve what people can do with Google.”

A collaboration similar to Wear OS?

Two years ago, Samsung and Google announced a collaboration on a next-gen wave of Wear OS watches that led to the Galaxy Watch 4 and preceded Google pixel clock. While this Qualcomm/Google/Samsung partnership is vastly different, the spirit of the collaboration can be very similar.

With Wear OS, Samsung acted as a hardware partner to enhance the core features of Google’s next-gen watch platform, while Google focused on software crossovers to Android and added Fitbit features. Building a successful next-gen mixed reality hardware platform will likely require compatibility with existing apps and even phones to ensure the final device doesn’t feel like Meta’s hardware is left behind on an app island.

As Apple’s headset is likely to bring VR and AR compatibility with existing Mac and iOS products, Samsung’s collaboration with Google and Qualcomm could do the same for Google and Samsung’s mobile hardware.

If that’s the type of collaboration this mixed reality partnership is proposing, then Google’s moves in this area remain the next big question mark.

At the same time, Samsung announced its mixed reality ambitions new Galaxy S23 smartphone rangeincluding faster performance, longer battery life on the two smaller models, and improved cameras.

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Super small Vive XR Elite doesn’t quite work for my eyes