Meta's path to AR glasses is full of stumbling blocks
According to a new report, Meta is having trouble developing its own AR chips. Its reliance on Qualcomm could increase.
AR glasses suitable for the mass market need to be lightweight and powerful, which requires highly specialized chips. Meta has been trying to develop such chips internally since 2018, but has had little success so far, The Information reports.
Out of necessity, Meta may rely on AR chips from Qualcomm in the future, the report states. The same chip designer has been supplying the chips for Meta's VR headsets for many years.
The dependence on Qualcomm could be a disadvantage for Meta, as competitors would have access to the same AR chips, as is currently the case with the Snapdragon XR2 inside VR headsets. Meta's upcoming AR glasses would lose a unique selling point.
A problem Apple doesn't have. The company has been working on its own chips for more than a decade. A multi-billion dollar investment that has paid off.
End of partnership with Samsung
According to an earlier report, the development of its own chip for Meta's second-generation Ray-Ban Stories failed, so Meta decided to use a Qualcomm chip instead. According to a leaked hardware roadmap, the unannounced wearable could be released this year.
Real AR glasses from Meta could follow in 2024, but will only be produced for developers and demonstration purposes. A consumer version of the device is planned for 2027.
According to The Information, Meta worked with Samsung on a chip for the AR glasses, but the partnership ended in 2022 when Meta decided to produce only a very limited number of devices for developers. The jointly developed chip will, however, be used in the first AR glasses to be unveiled at Meta Connect in 2024.
Dependence on Qualcomm may increase
The AR glasses are said to come with two accessories: a wristband that reads neural signals and a phone-shaped compute unit. According to The Information, Meta decided last year to use a Qualcomm chip for the compute unit.
After the partnership between Meta and Samsung came to an end, Meta looked for and found a new partner in MediaTek. The Taiwanese company is to design the chip for the AR glasses, which will be released in 2027.
Due to the high development costs, Meta is now said to be considering bringing Qualcomm on board as well. One day, Qualcomm could then be responsible for both the AR chip and the chip in the compute unit. Internally, many executives are said to be in favor of expanding the Qualcomm partnership. This would increase Meta's dependence on the chipmaker.