HoloLens 2 could pack a Qualcomm chip for ‘extended reality’

The next version of Microsoft’s HoloLens headset for augmented reality will supposedly feature Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon XR1 processor. The rumor arrives by way of an anonymous source who claims the second-generation headset packing the XR1 chip, currently dubbed HoloLens 2, will make an appearance in January 2019. That means we could see the headset’s debut in six months during the CES 2019 show in Las Vegas. 

Qualcomm introduced the Snapdragon XR1 processor in late May, a mobile chip optimized for extended reality (XR), an umbrella term that covers augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality. The chip targets mainstream devices, or rather affordable products, to provide high-quality XR experiences without having to invest in high-priced hardware. The chip is mostly optimized for augmented reality powered by artificial intelligence. 

That said, unlike Qualcomm’s other Snapdragon-branded chips, the XR1 isn’t meant for smartphones. Instead, companies including Meta, HTC’s Vive division, Pico, and Vuzix have already jumped on the XR1 bandwagon to produce new products, such as the next-generation Vuzix Blade headset for augmented reality. Microsoft wasn’t mentioned during Qualcomm’s XR1 announcement, but speculation points to a possible hush-hush until the official HoloLens 2 reveal next year. 

Currently, Microsoft has two HoloLens bundles: the $5,000 Commercial Suite and the “cheaper” $3,000 Development Edition. Based on the prices alone, neither are meant for mainstream use. The Development Edition is designed for individual augmented reality application developers although the headset is used extensively in medical, retail, manufacturing, and other industries. The Commercial Suite adds enterprise-focused features like remote management to the developer-focused bundle. 

HoloLens made its debut in March 2016 packing an Intel “Cherry Trail” processor running at 1GHz, 2GB of system memory, 1GB of memory dedicated to an embedded Holographic Processing Unit, a 2.4MP camera, and 64GB of storage. More than two years later, we have yet to see a second-generation unit although previous rumors pointed to the next version, codenamed Sydney, launching in the first quarter of 2019. 

Previous rumors also expected the next-generation HoloLens to include Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 chip, which is currently making its way into smartphones such as Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus. But now that Qualcomm officially revealed the Snapdragon XR1, this latter chip makes more sense for Microsoft. Either way, the company appears to be moving toward an ARM-based headset, ditching Intel’s x86-based platform.  

Qualcomm and Microsoft already have a newfound alliance with their “always connected” initiative. They created a Windows 10 platform based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors that promises notebooks with a high performance, long battery life beyond 20 hours, a constant internet connection thanks to 4G LTE connectivity and an affordable price. The HoloLens 2 could be part of that initiative. 

If Microsoft takes the Snapdragon XR1 route with its next HoloLens, the company is already set software-wise thanks to Windows on ARM. This is a version of Windows 10 that works on ARM-based processors, which “speak a different language” than CPUs produced by AMD and Intel. It’s Microsoft’s second attempt at supporting ARM-based hardware after Windows RT failed to win customers over during the Windows 8 era. 

Computing

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X55 could bring blazing-fast 5G to laptops

While the Snapdragon X55 promises to bring fast data connectivity to the next generation of 5G smartphones, the modem also holds potential in transforming the way Always Connected PCs are used.
Computing

The HoloLens 2 will be announced at MWC. Here's what we know about it so far

The HoloLens 2 is ripe for an announcement. Here's what Microsoft has revealed so far, what's likely in store for the next generation HoloLens, and everything that we know about this mixed reality headset.
Virtual Reality

Getting into VR is spendy. Which headset is truly worth your hard-earned cash?

Virtual reality has finally gone mainstream, but how do you find the best VR headset for you? Check out a few of our favorites, whether you want the best of the best or a budget alternative for your mobile device.
Business

Apple loses battle to use Intel modems in Germany in latest clash with Qualcomm

Apple is following the Federal Trade Commission's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Computing

Edit, sign, append, and save with six of the best PDF editors

Though there are plenty of PDF editors to be had online, finding a solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here are the best PDF editors for your editing needs, no matter your budget or OS.
Computing

Why limit yourself to one OS? Try one of these great virtual machine apps

Buying a new computer just because you want to utilize another operating system isn't necessary. Just use the best virtual machine applications to emulate one OS inside another, no matter what your platform or budget is.
Computing

Decades-old Apple IIe computer found in dad’s attic, and it still works

A New York law professor went viral last weekend after he discovered an old Apple IIe computer sitting in his dad's attic. In a series of tweets, he showed that the vintage machine still works perfectly fine after 30 years.
Computing

Between Intel and AMD, these are the best gaming CPUs at every price

What are the best processors for gaming you can buy? You don't need to spend a fortune to get an amazing gaming CPU and now that AMD is competitive again, there are more choices than ever.
Web

Rid yourself of website notification requests in just a few easy steps

Wish you knew how to block browser and website notifications? You can do it on a case by case basis, but that can become dull after the 10th site has asked for your approval. Here's how to block them outright.
Computing

Don't take your provider's word for it. Here's how to test your internet speed

If you're worried that you aren't getting the most from your internet package, speed tests are a great way to find out what your real connection is capable of. Here are the best internet speed tests available today.
Computing

Logitech’s G MX518 gaming mouse pairs classic looks with all-new tech

Logitech is relaunching one of its most popular classic gaming mice, the MX518. Now called the G MX518, it sports upgraded internals that give it a 16,000 DPI optical sensor and new and improved memory.
Computing

Microsoft could be planning a laptop with foldable screen, hints patent filing

Filed in late 2017 and titled "Bendable device with Display in Movable Connection With Body," the patent filing explains a new mechanism for laptops which can eliminate a hinge and allow the screen to fold shut from the inside,
Deals

From Chromebooks to MacBooks, here are the best laptop deals for February 2019

Whether you need a new laptop for school or work or you're just doing some post-holiday shopping, we've got you covered: These are the best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to on-the-go gaming PCs.
Computing

Is AMD's Navi back on track for 2019? Here's everything you need to know

AMD's Navi graphics cards could be available as soon as July 2019 — as long as it's not delayed by stock problems. Billed as a successor to Polaris, Navi promises to deliver better performance to consoles, like Sony's PlayStation 5.