Qualcomm is getting into the metaverse. The smartphone processor giant has announced the creation of a $100 million fund to support developers who design virtual and augmented reality experiences. In order to develop extended reality games, the firm has also approached Square Enix.
Qualcomm invests $100 million in the metaverse
After Meta, Samsung, HTC, Google and Microsoft, Qualcomm has just confirmed its interest in the metaverse. The American company, which specializes in designing chips for Android smartphones, has announced the creation of the Snapdragon Metaverse Fund, a fund with $100 million.
According to the statement released by Qualcomm this Monday, March 21, 2022, the fund is to support the development of “immersive experiences with augmented reality, mixed reality and virtual reality.” The company refers to these types of experiences as “extended reality” (XR).
Extended reality, also known as mixed or hybrid reality, combines the capabilities of virtual and augmented reality. In concrete terms, extended reality experiences immerse the user in an environment where virtual elements in 2D or 3D are superimposed on the real world. These experiences generally require a headset or glasses.
Through increased venture capital investments and grant programs, Qualcomm seeks to financially support developers and companies that specialize in the metaverse.
“Through the Snapdragon Metaverse Fund, we look forward to supporting developers and companies of all sizes as they push the boundaries of what is possible,”said Cristiano Amon, president of Qualcomm.
All developers who offer virtual or augmented reality experiences in video games, entertainment, healthcare or even education will be eligible for a grant program. The American firm invites developers to respond to the call for projects as early as June 2022.
Qualcomm partners with Square Enix to develop games in the metaverse
With its longstanding expertise in technology, Qualcomm won’t just fund firms getting into the metaverse. The company will offer early access to its extended reality technologies to all developers who are part of a grant program.
“We are providing the technology and revolutionary experiences in our platforms that will enable the consumer and enterprise to build and engage in the metaverse and enable the physical and digital worlds to be connected,”Qualcomm’s CEO says.
In particular, Qualcomm will provide access to the Snapdragon XR1 and XR2, two processors dedicated to virtual and augmented reality. Unveiled in 2018, the Snapdragon XR1 is an entry-level chip reserved for accessories that demand little computing power.
Faster, the XR2 allows a virtual or augmented reality headset to handle 7 cameras simultaneously, track the user’s eye movements and recognize the wearer’s voice. Qualcomm will also offer developers the opportunity to leverage its Snapdragon Spaces XR development kit, which is dedicated to glasses for extended reality.
At the same time, Qualcomm has partnered with Square Enix, the Japanese video game studio behind titles like Final Fantasy. The two partners will collaborate on a project called Snapdragon Spaces. The program plans to design extended reality games that are as immersive as possible.
“We’ve invested in XR processors and are looking forward to building games on Snapdragon Spaces. In particular, we think the time is right for XR to be leveraged on games in a classic genre that we’re particularly known for and we can’t wait to share them with the world,”said Ben Taylor, CTO at Square Enix.
Earlier this year, Square Enix had also revealed its interest in non-fungible tokens (NFT). For Yosuke Matsuda, CEO of the Japanese company, non-fungible tokens, blockchain and cryptocurrencies will revolutionize the video game industry in the near future.
Several video game studios have also shown interest in the metaverse in recent months. This is the case of Epic Games, which offers a tool called MetaHuman to design highly realistic digital humans, or the Chinese giant Tencent.
A few weeks ago, Qualcomm also approached ByteDance, owner of the social network TikTok. On the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the two groups announced that they are working hand in hand to develop a global ecosystem dedicated to extended reality.
Not all technology giants are as enthusiastic as Qualcomm about the metaverse. Intel, one of the semiconductor giants, believes that virtual worlds such as the ones mentioned by Meta (formerly Facebook) are not yet technically feasible. The company asserts that a metaverse accessible by billions of humans will require a 1000-fold increase in computing and processing power.