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Qualcomm goes big on augmented reality

by Scott Bicheno on 18 April 2011, 11:09

Tags: Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM)

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Augmented bottom line

Semiconductor manufacturers typically have to adopt indirect ways of driving demand for their products. Yes, we had the ‘Intel Inside' campaign, but generally they try to generate interest in the devices their chips appear in, rather than the chips themselves.

Mobile chip giant Qualcomm is no exception, and it has recently focused a lot of resource on the matter of augmented reality. AR is technology that superimposes digital images and data on top of ‘reality' via a device's camera and screen. You point the camera at something and view the augmented version on your screen.

AR is at a very early stage of its development, but Qualcomm is apparently counting on it as a driver for more powerful devices. More sophisticated technology requires better chips, and that's where Qualcomm comes in.

So late last week saw an announcement from Qualcomm that it had collaborated with developer Big PlayAR and the Dallas Mavericks basketball team to release Mavs AR. This is a free Android app that ‘creates a virtual basketball court in the palm of your hand.' We downloaded it, but one of the AR elements is that you have to have your phone's camera pointed at a Mavs ticket to play the game.

"Augmented reality is an exciting new feature for mobile devices and Qualcomm has developed technology that takes ordinary 2D surfaces, such as game tickets, and brings them to life with rich 3D graphics," said Paul Jacobs, chairman and CEO of Qualcomm. "We are pleased to work with Big PlayAR and the Dallas Mavericks to bring the first Qualcomm vision-based AR application to market and enrich the NBA Playoff experience for Mavs fans."

Qualcomm recently released a video compilation of its AR developer challenge, in which it awarded $200,000 in prizes to the best AR apps. You can see the video below, and it's worth watching to get an idea of the direction AR might be headed in.



And here's another recently-released video, this time from Nokia, showing some indoor navigation technology. While not strictly AR, it's in that ballpark and may be used in conjunction with AR for all kinds of location-based service in future.



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