From creating new types of immersive entertainment and gaming experiences for consumers to changing the dynamics of enterprise collaboration, remote support and more, extended reality (XR) is poised for massive growth as 5G networks continue to proliferate. With incredibly high throughput, massive capacity and low latency, 5G will change the paradigm associated with virtual, augmented, and mixed reality–allowing users to untether devices from high-performance computing and making these new types of experience mobile.
Key to enabling boundless XR is distributed computing where on-device processing is augmented by the edge cloud for the purposes of graphics rendering. Add 5G to this split-rendering architecture and couple it with ever-advancing headsets and glasses, the long-held vision of mobile XR with stunning visuals becomes a reality.
Qualcomm’s Hemanth Sampath, senior director of engineering, described that vision and the technologies needed to drive it to scale: “Boundless XR really allows you to experience mobile XR anywhere… It uses split-rendering, which distributes the computation between the device and then supplements it with the cloud…All that is delivered over a 5G high-bandwidth, low-latency link, and that makes for a truly immersive experience wherever you are.”
Qualcomm started working on 5G boundless XR several years ago, initially showcasing the technology at the 2019 Mobile World Congress Barcelona. Since then the company has launched its Snapdragon XR2 Platform as well as created a reference design using the Snapdragon X55 5G Modem-RF System, which supports 5G at both millimeter wave (mmWave) and sub-6 GHz frequencies.
A key XR metric for a good user experience is low motion-to-render-to-photon latency, or M2R2P latency. M2R2P latency for boundless XR includes the time from a user’s motion to the resulting graphics being rendered in the edge cloud, sent over 5G, and displayed on the VR headset. High M2R2P latency causes user experience degradation, so it is important to reliably maintain low latency, including the 5G round-trip time.
In terms of making boundless XR over 5G mmWave ready for primetime, Qualcomm recently demonstrated an over-the-air multi-user boundless XR testbed on a live 5G mmWave network that has been optimized end-to-end across the VR device, infrastructure, and edge cloud for low latency and high reliability. They demonstrated that their end-to-end 5G optimizations reduce the M2R2P latency, meeting the requirements of boundless XR and resulting in a better experience for the user. Hemanth stated that their system-level optimizations are making boundless XR over 5G ready for deployment at scale. This solution is in trial with British Telecom and EE. Hemanth said Qualcomm is also working with various OEMs to bring this technology to market.
Watch the RCR Interview: 5G Mobile mmWave here.
For more content, including demos and live interviews, from Qualcomm’s recent Advanced 5G Research Demonstrations for MWC ’21 click here.