Recently, Qualcomm announced the establishment of Xiaolong metaverse fund with a total amount of up to US $100 million to invest in developers and enterprises building unique immersive XR experience, related core AR technology and related AI technology.
“Our groundbreaking platform technology and experience enable consumers and businesses to build and participate in metaverse and connect entities to the digital world.” Anmeng, President and CEO of Qualcomm, believes that Qualcomm’s technology is the key to metaverse. Through the Xiaolong metaverse fund, Qualcomm can empower developers and enterprises of different sizes to create more possibilities when a new generation of spatial computing is launched.
For a long time, based on the underlying technological innovation, building the technology product portfolio required by various industries and facing the market that can bring long-term and stable revenue in the future is the key for Qualcomm to maintain rapid growth. Therefore, the overweight layout of metaverse not only complies with the technical trend, but also lays a good foundation for continuing to occupy the core technology of the underlying industrial chain in the future.
The self styled key to metaverse may not be exaggerated for Qualcomm.
1、 More than curiosity: find the key to “metaverse”
Metaverse, the full English name of metaverse, is a combination of meta (transcendence) and verse (universe). This concept was born in the science fiction avalanche in 1992. The novel depicts a huge virtual reality world. People live with digital avatars and compete with each other to improve their status.
In short, metaverse is the deep integration of the virtual world and the real world.
A report by gray investment company in November last year found that the proportion of active metaverse users increased 10} times from the beginning of 2020 to June 2021. According to the report released by Gartner, a technology research and consulting company, it is estimated that by 2026, 30% of the world’s organizations will have products and services in metaverse, and 25% of people will spend at least one hour in metaverse every day on work, shopping, education, social networking and entertainment. The global metaverse market is expected to reach nearly 42 billion US dollars.
In the expectation of moving to metaverse, major brand enterprises are already building infrastructure to enable users to copy their lives digitally. By shifting from digital business to metaverse business, enterprises will also be able to expand and enhance their business model in an unprecedented way.
However, metaverse is more complex than the network world. It requires a more powerful data computing core, a low latency network environment for transmitting huge data, and AR / VR devices with better display effects. This demand will drive the strength of relevant industries in storage, network, display, computing power and other aspects, and force manufacturers to upgrade technology.
Therefore, Qualcomm hopes to provide financial assistance to leading XR enterprises, including developers building XR experience in the fields of games, health and health care, media, entertainment, education and business, through the establishment of Xiaolong metaverse fund. Manufacturers who receive fund investment or subsidies will also have access to the most cutting-edge XR platform technology, hardware suite, global investor network and joint marketing and promotion.
For Qualcomm, taking XR as one of the key layout directions, on the one hand, is because XR is the core technology entering metaverse. In the future era of mixed superposition of virtual and reality, the core technology occupying the underlying industrial chain is still Qualcomm’s strategic goal. On the other hand, the usage scenario of consumer XR devices is similar to that of smart phones. Qualcomm has deep technology accumulation and migration capabilities, which can reduce R & D costs.
It is reported that the application of Xiaolong metaverse fund will officially begin in June this year. Second, as a partner of Qualcomm Technology, the XR fund is important to tap the concept of growth of the whole industry and help Qualcomm to support the innovation of the whole industry.
2、 XR race: the first competition of “metaverse”
Before explaining the relationship between metaverse and XR, let’s first understand what VR, AR and MR are.
The full name of VR (virtual reality) technology is called “virtual reality technology”. It can simulate the virtual environment with computer and bring people a sense of three-dimensional immersion. In other words, using the imaging principle, optimize the image through the combination of software and hardware to show the scene in front of you. You just need to wear a pair of imaging equipment and sensing equipment to swim in the virtual scene.
AR (augmented reality), also known as “augmented reality technology”, is a technology that calculates the three-dimensional position of the camera image in real time and adds the corresponding image. For example, you open the camera of your mobile phone and use software to measure the length of the object in the lens; When you can’t find the direction, get help from the live navigation software in your mobile phone.
MR (mediated reality) is equivalent to the combination of VR technology and AR technology. It can combine the real and virtual world to produce a new visual environment. Its biggest feature is that the virtual world and the real world can interact.
In short, VR needs to use opaque headgear to complete the immersion experience in the virtual world. What you see is a 100% virtual world; Ar needs a clear headset to see the real world and the information and images superimposed on it. What you see is the entity of the real world and the virtual information on it; Mr presents a mixture of real world and virtual world, but the virtual objects it creates are not only realistic, but also can interact with the real environment in real time.
The full name of XR (extended reality) technology is called “extended reality technology”, which is all real and virtual environments generated by computer graphics and wearable devices. In short, it is the intersection of AR, VR and Mr technologies.
You know, in metaverse, multi crowd interaction, communication and other social behaviors through “digital Avatar” may not be satisfied by VR, AR or MR technology in a simple sense. Therefore, metaverse needs collective virtual technology that can support infrastructure and intelligent devices that support XR technology.
Through a series of technical applications such as large-scale construction of 3D map, centimeter level spatial calculation adapted to the whole scene, high-effect and efficient AI rendering algorithm and 100000 hair level digital human rendering, combined with AR / VR wearable devices, XR can be powerful enough to build a visual, olfactory, touchable and tangible illusion for all users, and confuse these illusions with real objects.
Based on this, as early as 2015, Qualcomm began to layout XR and successively promoted Xiaolong XR1 and XR2 platforms, which largely solved the problems of XR products such as delay, poor mobility, low resolution and refresh rate, and greatly improved the experience of XR products. Among them, Qualcomm Xiaolong XR2 is the world’s first 5g XR platform, which can support high-speed AR and VR mobile processing, and has become the cornerstone of building metaverse. At present, Qualcomm Xiaolong XR2 platform has been widely used in Ar / VR head displays of mainstream companies such as meta and HTC, and has been selected as one of the best inventions in 2021 by time magazine.
In the past, Qualcomm mainly provided XR core technology and feature support to OEM equipment manufacturers. Now, with the upsurge of metaverse, Qualcomm needs developers to join the development of XR applications.
3、 Accelerated landing: how does “number one player” shine into reality?
Although the XR track has become hot due to the upsurge of metaverse, the development of XR industry has been restricted by the problems such as inconsistent industry standards, difficult innovation and upgrading of key technologies, uncertainty caused by rapid iteration of software and hardware for a long time. Overall, XR technology is interdisciplinary, involves many fields and matures slowly, but once it matures, it will be a new subversive computing platform.
Last November, Qualcomm launched the snapdragon spaces XR developer platform, a headset ar development kit. The platform can realize some main environmental understanding features, including spatial mapping and spatial grid, occlusion, plane detection, object and image recognition and tracking, local anchor and its persistence, and scene understanding. Qualcomm also acquired the team and some technical assets of Hins SAS, a provider of hand tracking and gesture recognition solutions, so that Qualcomm’s XR products have a better hand interaction experience.
Not long ago, Qualcomm announced to cooperate with square Enix, the world’s top 3A blockbuster game publisher, to help square Enix build an XR experience based on snapdragon spaces XR developer platform.
As one of the top manufacturers in the game field, square Enix has launched a series of popular works such as final fantasy, the brave fight the dragon and Tomb Raider. Ben Taylor, its technical director, said: “square Enix believes that the time is ripe to innovate with XR for the classic games we are particularly good at. We are looking forward to using snapdragon spaces to create XR experience and sharing them with the world.”
It is worth mentioning that before that, Lenovo, Xiaomi, oppo and other companies were the initial partners of snapdragon spaces platform.
At the same time, Qualcomm also joined hands with leading enterprises in the XR industry chain, including unity, unreal engine, HTC vive, Quli technology, oppo, Pico, adventure VR, shadow creation technology and playing a dream YVR, to create the “2022 Qualcomm XR innovative application challenge”.
(for details, please visit the official website of the competition https://xr.qualcomm-challenge.com/ ）
As one of the most influential innovation competitions in the XR industry, Qualcomm’s “Qualcomm XR Innovation Application Challenge” aims to combine the XR industrial ecological chain, integrate hardware manufacturers, developer ecology, channel distribution and other resources, provide all-round support for participating enterprises from technology to training, from promotion to customers, help them deeply understand the scene needs and break through the information barrier, So as to create more rich and diverse high-quality XR software application products and promote the rapid development of the whole XR industry.
At present, the “Qualcomm XR innovative application challenge” has been held for the fourth time. This competition will provide 8 commercial XR terminals based on Xiaolong platform as development equipment for participating developers. A total of 10 groups of tracks will be set up in the whole race, including 41 award-winning places. The total award value of the competition is more than 540000 yuan. In addition, the competition will also provide rich publicity and promotion, technical training, capital resource docking and other services for the participating teams.
The ever-changing technology has created the connectivity of scenes, the connectivity of data and the interoperability of value, which also makes that in the era of digital technology, enterprises should not “walk alone for speed”, but “walk with others for distance” with the comprehensive support of industrial ecology.
Perhaps it is too early to predict exactly what metaverse will be. But all we know is that it will open up new experiences and improve our lives. Before that, more enterprises are still needed to work together on XR.
Lei Feng Network (official account: Lei Feng Network)
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