The CEO of Qualcomm, Cristiano Amon, made a bold declaration today that the technology company would be the key enabler for making the metaverse a reality. Speaking at Qualcomm’s annual Snapdragon Tech Summit, Amon stated that Qualcomm’s technology across 5G connectivity, artificial intelligence, and immersive extended reality experiences position it at the center of metaverse development.
“We will be your ticket to the metaverse,” proclaimed Amon during his keynote presentation. “Our technology will enable the magical experiences in the next-generation internet that will bring the metaverse to life.”
The concept of the metaverse has been gaining significant attention recently, driven by investments from major tech firms like Microsoft, Facebook, Apple and Google. While definitions vary, the metaverse fundamentally refers to persistent 3D virtual worlds where people can interact socially as well as experience entertainment, play games, collaborate for work, and more.
The Qualcomm CEO made it clear that he sees the metaverse as the next major platform transition following the evolution from desktop PCs to the mobile internet. “The metaverse will have as significant an impact on our lives as the mobile phone has over the past generation,” Amon predicted. “It will reshape how we connect, collaborate and engage across the physical and digital worlds.”
Amon contends that Qualcomm’s leadership across key metaverse-enabling technologies makes the company a driving force in bringing these immersive virtual environments to fruition. He highlighted Qualcomm’s strengths in 5G connectivity, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, computer vision, and power efficiency as being critical for delivering the robust experiences users will expect.
“Our expertise at the intersection of mobility, connectivity and compute sets us up to make the metaverse a reality,” said Amon. He emphasized Qualcomm’s history of developing breakthrough technologies that powered previous platform shifts from flip phones to smartphones to always-on 5G devices.
Some analysts agree that Qualcomm is poised to capitalize on surging demand for metaverse hardware, software and infrastructure. “With its dominance of mobile chipsets and strength in 5G modems, Qualcomm will play an instrumental role across the metaverse technology stack,” said industry commentator Anand Srinivasan.
During his presentation, Amon referenced Qualcomm’s acquisition of chipmaker NUVIA earlier this year as a key strategic move to attain the performance capabilities required for metaverse devices. NUVIA’s high-end CPU designs are expected to enable new classes of power-efficient computing systems optimized for the metaverse.
Likewise, Qualcomm highlighted how its latest Snapdragon platforms are enhancing experiences in spatial computing devices such as augmented and virtual reality headsets used to access metaverse environments. The company revealed its new Snapdragon Spaces developer platform aimed at making it easier for programmers to build mixed reality applications.
Some concrete examples of how Qualcomm technology is being used to develop the metaverse today include its collaboration with Microsoft on custom chips for the tech giant’s HoloLens headsets. The two firms are also working together on seamlessly blending virtual and physical worlds using Azure cloud services and Snapdragon hardware.
Meanwhile, Qualcomm partnered with Niantic Labs on its popular Pokémon GO mobile game that overlays digital characters on real world environments viewed through a smartphone camera. This showcases Qualcomm’s advanced computer vision and AI capabilities that will be essential for metaverse applications.
At the summit, Qualcomm demonstrated new augmented reality glasses from Chinese firm Nreal powered by Snapdragon that offer rich, immersive experiences. The lightweight glasses preview how consumers may interact with the metaverse in the future using next-generation wearables.
Qualcomm is also working with Epic Games on Unreal Engine 5, a leading real-time 3D creation tool used by many metaverse application developers. Qualcomm said its chips would enable richer scenes and experiences by allowing more physical detail and visual realism through the game engine.
Some industry analysts expressed concerns that Qualcomm may face stiff competition from rivals also vying to provide the infrastructure for building metaverse platforms. Companies like Nvidia, Intel, AMD and Arm Holdings are pouring investment into high performance chips optimized for emerging workloads like simulated digital worlds.
Additionally, cloud infrastructure providers including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud have rolled out services tailored specifically for metaverse creators. These firms are also likely to play a major role providing the storage, compute power and network connectivity needed to construct expansive virtual universes.
In response to potential challengers, Qualcomm’s CEO Cristiano Amon stated he welcomed competing solutions to accelerate metaverse adoption. But he also stressed that Qualcomm’s breadth of capabilities uniquely positions it to be the industry’s one-stop-shop for enabling the core building blocks of metaverses.
“We have spent decades conducting pioneering research and developing breakthrough technologies spanning mobile computing, connectivity, AI, XR, imaging and beyond,” said Amon. “Our expertise across the complete stack of metaverse technologies makes us the ideal partner for innovators building the next digital frontier.”
Qualcomm bullishly forecasts that the metaverse will eventually comprise trillions of dollars of cumulative market opportunity as its omnipresence expands across both consumer and enterprise domains.
On the consumer side, Qualcomm envisions people inhabiting metaverse social spaces to virtually hang out with friends, watch live sports and concerts, play immersive games, go shopping, and engage in other interactive entertainment activities through their digital avatars.
For enterprises, Qualcomm believes the metaverse will revolutionize business collaboration, training, design, manufacturing and more. Companies will be able to simulate real world workflows and processes in shared virtual environmentsusing digital twins.
Some analysts have pegged the potential future market size for metaverse solutions as high as $30 trillion considering the all-encompassing nature of these simulated virtual worlds across both business and consumer settings.
“We are still just scratching the surface of what’s possible in the metaverse,” Amon commented. “As the technology matures, the opportunities for innovation, human connection and economic value creation will be tremendous. Qualcomm’s invention will power this next frontier.”
However, the Qualcomm CEO also cautioned that substantial work remains to build out the full scope of metaverse infrastructure, devices, platforms, standards and content. He compared the state of metaverse development today to the nascency of smartphone technology in the early 2000s.
“Right now we are in the era of feature phones, and the transition to the smartphone is just beginning,” reflected Amon. “Over the next decade, the metaverse will experience massive evolution and growth reminiscent of the mobile internet revolution.”
This helps explain why Qualcomm is directing massive investment into metaverse enabling technologies. The company has established a new expanded reality division as well as convened an advisory council consisting of industry partners to help shape the future of immersive experiences.
At its recent annual investor day, Qualcomm revealed plans to spend up to $2 billion acquiring startups working on metaverse hardware and software solutions. Qualcomm’s venture capital arm has already invested in dozens of companies developing innovations in areas like digital avatars, 3D user interfaces, and VR collaboration tools.
Meanwhile, Qualcomm continues to spearhead extensive research into enabling technologies to address key metaverse challenges around connectivity, mobility, form factor, visual quality, latency, battery life, and security. For example, the company unveiled a custom 5G modem purpose-built for VR headsets which aims to make them more comfortable and sleek.
“We see a tremendous runway ahead to innovate across the pillars of the metaverse experience,” said Amon. “While there is still much work ahead across the industry, you can count on Qualcomm to play a leadership role making the metaverse vision a reality.”
In closing his keynote, Amon reinforced Qualcomm’s aspiration to make the metaverse liberate human potential. “The doors of the metaverse will open possibilities for learning, creativity, empathy and more that we can only begin to imagine,” he envisioned. “We are committed to developing the foundational technology that will bring these life enriching experiences to people across the world.”