At Augmented World Expo (AWE), Qualcomm announced Snapdragon Spaces, a new XR (eXtended Reality) developer platform compatible with the Khronos Open XRE Runtime.

Depending on the developer, Snapdragon Spaces might have different advantages. First, it brings many fundamental XR building blocks that programmers can rely on and use as a development accelerator.

Things like spatial mapping, image recognition, hand tracking, turning images into 3D meshes, and more are non-trivial to create or even integrate. Features that rely on machine learning also require extensive datasets, testing, and tuning.

Developers who already have implemented some of these capabilities could also create an alternate code path to switch over Qualcomm’s Spaces version to benefit from the specific Snapdragon hardware optimizations Spaces will undoubtedly offer. That would translate to higher performance and better battery life for mobile devices.

No matter how talented developers are, optimizing “down to the metal” is not only very expensive, but it is sometimes impossible because they don’t have the knowledge or low-level system access that the OEM has.

When it arrives, Snapdragon Spaces will work on high-end Snapdragon platforms like the Snapdragon 888.

Snapdragon Spaces will be accessible to developers via Unreal Engine or Unity to tap into the vast array of developers using these two engines.

From a user’s point of view, Spaces can be installed and updated just like an app. It means that Qualcomm can rollout optimizations and feature updates without requiring developers to push a new version of their apps.

Qualcomm’s market share is massive enough for developers to take notice, even though some incentives won’t hurt. the chipmaker can launch without worrying about what competitors will do. In the meantime, Qualcomm can advocate for its technology and benefit from a first-mover advantage by driving the specs.

Qualcomm continues to invest heavily in XR, including acquisitions like Wikitude, and the efforts are paying off. We see more and more XR hardware platforms based on Qualcomm’s technologies, such as the Lenovo ThinkReality devices (don’t miss our upcoming review).

Snapdragon Spaces should be available to all in the Spring of 2022, but right now, there’s a Snapdragon Spaces Pathfinder program to find and help developers get off the ground.

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