Qualcomm announced this week its Snapdragon Metaverse Fund, which boasts a total investment of $100 million meant to support both developers and companies actively producing extended reality (XR) ecosystems as well as the augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies designed to advance the XR experience.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chipsets have been meeting with increasing success in the 5G market; during the first quarter of Qualcomm’s fiscal 2022 (which ended on Dec. 26, 2021), the Snapdragon line was on a path toward annual revenue growth of 60 percent. The company also reported revenues of $10.7 billion, which reflects a 30 percent increase year over year. Pair that with the rapidly increasing advancements in virtual reality (VR) over the past year by companies such as Meta and Microsoft, and it’s no wonder Qualcomm is eager to grasp the metaverse market.
This isn’t Snapdragon’s first foray into the metaverse. Qualcomm previously announced at CES this year a collaboration with Microsoft to “accelerate the adoption of augmented reality in both the consumer and enterprise sectors.” The aim here, according to Cristiano Amon, Qualcomm’s president and CEO, is to create “custom AR chips to enable a new wave of power-efficient, lightweight AR glasses to deliver rich and immersive experiences, as well as plans to integrate our Snapdragon Spaces XR developer platform into Microsoft mesh.”
Qualcomm’s latest strategy aims to support XR developers and creators directly by deploying capital through both venture investments and a grant program. The company also plans to provide developers with access to its portfolio of XR tools, including its Snapdragon XR Platforms, Snapdragon Spaces XR Developer Platform, and XR Labs Europe.
Qualcomm claims these innovations and advancements in next-gen XR technologies are within the realm of possibility thanks to its extensive influence in the 5G market.
“Qualcomm Technologies has been a key contributor in every major computing evolution and is a leader in core technologies such as 5G, AI and XR – all of which are critical to the metaverse,” Qualcomm said. “As we enter the new era of spatial computing, the Snapdragon Metaverse Fund will help enable and foster innovation across the entire ecosystem through venture investment and developer ecosystem grants for content projects.”
Qualcomm will begin to accept applications for its Snapdragon Metaverse Fund in June, according to the company.
Qualcomm and Square Enix
Following its Snapdragon Metaverse Fund, Qualcomm also unveiled collaborative efforts with Japanese video game company, Square Enix. Qualcomm will work directly with Square Enix’s Advanced Technology Division to further develop its Snapdragon Spaces XR Developer Platform to “explore extended reality (XR) experiences”, according to Qualcomm’s press release. This could include the development of head-worn AR and mixed-reality gaming technologies.
“Square Enix has always been committed to state-of-the-art game technology to push storytelling boundaries, delivering unforgettable experiences for our fans” said Ben Taylor, technical director for Square Enix. “We have been investing in XR and look forward to building on Snapdragon Spaces.”