Qualcomm wants to help bring better augmented reality apps to mobile phones, especially those powered by its Snapdragon chips. Today, it is releasing an augmented reality software development kit for Android phones, along with a $200,000 challenge for the best Android AR apps. The challenge goes through January, 2011, and the best apps will be showcased at the next Mobile World Congress.
AR apps are popular among developers because they allow them to add a layer of digital information on top of the real world as seen through a cell phone camera. Different AR apps include video games triggered by printed QR codes, in-stadium/sporting event guides, and local directory and product information (point your cell phone camera at a building and see what’s inside). But many of these are still gimmicky. We are still waiting for a killer AR app to emerge.
Qualcomm’s new SDK may or may not help to produce one, but Qualcomm wants to encourage AR apps because they take advantage of the visual and graphics capabilities of its chips. If AR apps become a must-have for smartphone users, Qualcomm can sell more chips.