Samsung’s mixed reality vision begins with phones.

Samsung's mixed reality vision begins with phones.

Samsung, Google, and Qualcomm Join Forces for a Mixed Reality Platform

Earlier this year, Samsung, Google, and Qualcomm made an exciting announcement—they are partnering to create a new mixed reality platform. While the details of this platform are yet to be revealed, T.M. Roh, the president and head of Samsung’s mobile experience business, provided some insights into Samsung’s vision for mixed reality.

In an interview at Samsung’s headquarters in Suwon, South Korea, Roh shared that the company sees smartphones playing a significant role in the development of mixed reality. He stated, “So for the short term, perhaps many features or experiences [in] mixed reality would be in connection with [the] smartphone.”

The involvement of tech giants like Samsung, Google, and Qualcomm in the mixed reality space is a clear indication of the importance of head-mounted computers in the future of personal computing. Apple recently announced its premium standalone headset, the Vision Pro, priced at $3,499. Sony launched the second-generation PlayStation VR, and Meta introduced the Quest 3. The collaborative effort between Samsung, Google, and Qualcomm further emphasizes the industry’s recognition of the potential of mixed reality.

While Roh couldn’t elaborate on the specific plans of the partnership, he did mention that the project with Google and Qualcomm is progressing as planned. He highlighted two avenues for mixed reality: one linked to smartphones and another that can be generated independently. The latter, which aligns with the approach taken by Apple and Meta, involves standalone headsets like the Vision Pro and Quest Pro. However, there are several technical challenges to overcome before these standalone devices can become mainstream.

Roh emphasized the importance of creating a more seamless user experience, stating, “With our senses, we can understand location without feeling dizzy, but then to implement them on a device, that is still quite challenging.” He recognized that creating a device that can provide a comfortable mixed reality experience is crucial to meeting consumer expectations.

Samsung aims to establish an open platform for mixed reality through its collaboration with Google. Roh compared this approach to the partnership between Samsung and Google for Wear OS software on Android-powered smartwatches. Embracing an open ecosystem for mixed reality allows for the participation of various third-party developers and enriches the mixed reality (MR) or extended reality (XR) experience.

Even though details about the platform are not yet available, Roh expressed his thoughts on the potential applications and services that could thrive in mixed reality. He sees an opportunity to enhance everyday experiences such as communication and content viewing on a larger screen. This aligns with Apple’s approach as showcased in promotional videos for the Vision Pro.

Samsung’s entry into mixed reality, especially in collaboration with Google, presents an opportunity to build upon the existing devices in Samsung’s portfolio. It is speculated that Samsung may introduce a phone-connected device or a smaller set of glasses, distinguishing itself from Apple’s Vision Pro. Samsung has already made significant strides in the virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) space with its Gear VR headset, introduced in 2014, which popularized the technology by offering affordable and simplified VR experiences. Similarly, Google’s Cardboard VR headsets provided accessible phone-based VR experiences.

Until the announcement of this partnership, both Samsung and Google had been relatively quiet about their mixed reality ambitions. However, the partnership demonstrates their commitment to exploring the possibilities of mixed reality.

While it is unclear when more details will be revealed about Samsung, Google, and Qualcomm’s mixed reality partnership, Google’s vice president of product management for Android, Sameer Samat, mentioned at the Google I/O developer conference in May that the company plans to share more about their “immersive XR” partnership later this year.

In conclusion, the collaboration between Samsung, Google, and Qualcomm to create a mixed reality platform signifies a significant leap forward in the development of this technology. With Samsung’s emphasis on smartphones and an open ecosystem, the stage is set for the future of mixed reality experiences. Exciting times lie ahead as these tech giants continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in the realm of mixed reality.