At the Mobile World Conference Shanghai 2016 (MWCS2016), Qualcomm showed off a number of developments they are currently working on. Previously VR-Zone wrote about their work with the implementation of 5G and its place in the internet of things. Virtual Reality, especially with Snapdragon-powered smartphones like Samsung were also presented at their booth on the show floor. However, a major announcement which also looks into the potential for Augmented Reality was their partnership with Google with Project Tango.
The Tango between Google and Qualcomm
To showcase the power and potential of Google Tango on Snapdragon, Qualcomm presented in a closed-doors presentation with Lenovo. Their new phone, the Phab2, is a huge 6.4″ device with an array of two cameras and an infrared sensor on the back. With this, the phone is able to create high quality AR experiences. One demo was a fairly simple program which placed dinosaurs on the screen, similar to what Pokemon Go currently achieves. Users can spin and scale the dinosaur, but not much else.
More usefully, US furniture retailer Lowe’s has an AR app, allowing the users to choose and place products from their catalogue into the world. Because it is using real-world products, the dimensions are accurate and can help plan the layout of a home. Senior Manager of Product Marketing Nitin Dhiman explains that the extra cameras of the Lenovo allow for “golf-ball” accuracy, meaning the phone’s cameras can measure within an inch of accuracy. Not enough to build a house, Qualcomm admits, but enough to get good measurements for your furniture.
The Power of Snapdragon and Tango
Dhiman explains that alongside the potential uses of Google Tango on smartphones, the main draw of using Snapdragon processors is its low processing power. The image processing and conversion is all handled by dedicated hardware before it reaches the GPU. Snapdragon enabled smartphones will therefore not see a drop in performance while using the AR capabilities of the phone.
AR might well be the next big thing for many users. The profligacy of Pokemon Go in the United States shows its potential. Developing technology along these lines might make more business sense than VR. The Phab2 is significantly cheaper than the Oculus or HTC Vive for example. However, Qualcomm does have an interest in the development of VR as well. This means one technology need not win out over the other.