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(Pocket-lint) - Qualcomm has unveiled an important new reference design - the Qualcomm AR Smart Viewer Reference Design. Why is this important? Because it demonstrates the technologies that will power the next-gen of wireless AR glasses.

AR glasses are in the ascendency, with devices like the Nreal Air or HTC Vive Flow showing a couple of twists on how portable VR can be implemented. But they both have something in common - they're tethered.

That means they have to be physically plugged into a smartphone to operate, rather than offering the freedom that a wireless connection might bring, where you can just slip on the glasses and dive into another realm.

The Qualcomm reference device uses the Snapdragon XR2 Gen 1 platform and incorporates the FastConnect 6900 enabling Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.3, allowing for that latency-free connection to your phone.

Essentially, the phone sends compressed rendered frames to the glasses, which decodes and displays them, while sending back information from the onboard cameras and sensors, so processing is split between device.

Back to the glasses themselves and there's three cameras on board - two are mono and designed for tracking, including hand tracking, while there's an RGB camera which can see the world around you.

There is a pair of 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution micro OLED displays which run at 90Hz to keep the visuals smooth, while a 650mAh battery supplies the power.

The reference design is actually built by Goertek, with the displays supplied by SeeYA. The design of the glasses moves closer to a sunglasses form factor - as they are they look a little like 80s sunglasses, the sort of thing that's popular with cyclists or in snow sports.

But they are 40 per cent thinner than the previous-gen reference design that Qualcomm produced for wired AR glasses.

These glasses will detect 6 degrees of freedom movement, as well as track your hands, so can provide a number of methods for interaction with content or virtual environments.

This is just the announcement of a reference design, so we're some way from seeing these appear as a product you can buy - but the idea here is to show that the hardware works and give developers the software tools to create future products and experiences.

Writing by Chris Hall.