Augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality and the lesser-known extended reality term all  seem to designate what’s undoubtedly the “next big thing” in technology. Not mobile technology, but the tech industry in general.

Interestingly enough, companies as diverse (and conflicting) as Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Google, Sony, HTC, Facebook and Qualcomm each want to do their own thing, trying unique paths to mainstream adoption of various super-advanced software and hardware products.

At the end of the day however, partnerships could be the key to success, as even a fledgling market with all the potential in the world might have trouble sustaining a dozen of “proprietary” AR, VR, MR and XR solutions.

Despite increasingly heated legal battles with Apple, Qualcomm has the ability to unite smartphone manufacturers like no other. 12 of the world’s current top 15 handsets as far as camera performance goes are Snapdragon-powered, and that’s obviously no coincidence.

All Android OEMs can now take “image quality and computer vision” to the next level, with the announcement of a major expansion to the Qualcomm Spectra Module Program. Embedded image signal processors (ISP) of the same name have their sights set on improving biometric authentication and “high-resolution depth sensing”, which probably still sounds a little confusing and gimmicky for everyday consumers.

Basically, Qualcomm wants “next-generation” smartphones to produce better photographs in difficult environments and low light conditions, as well as sharper video with smooth zoom. Simultaneously, VR headsets should gain “real-time, dense depth map generation and segmentation” for a variety of use cases, including motion and hand tracking.

Passive and active depth sensing modules will also work in collaboration with iris authentication components for enhanced security and accuracy of biometric identification methods to be built into tomorrow’s ultra-high-end Android devices. Your move, Apple.

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