Augmented reality company Nreal is launching a cheaper, iOS-compatible, and more compact version of its smart glasses. The new Nreal Air goggles are expected to ship from December 2021 to Japan, China and South Korea. The price is not fixed, but Nreal says they will cost “a fraction of the price” of its previous Nreal Light glasses, which started selling for around $ 600 last year.
Based on Nreal’s description, the new Nreal Air eyewear has some basic similarities to the 2020 Nreal Light eyewear. Both are designed to look like relatively normal sunglasses and designed as ideal for projecting a virtual display on the big screen. in front of your eyes. They both use micro OLED screens for their augmented reality optics and are powered by a phone via a tether cable. And they’re both aimed at consumers rather than businesses, researchers, or the military.
But the Nreal Air glasses have a different feature set than their predecessors. Similar to Microsoft HoloLens or Magic Leap hardware, the original Nreal Light glasses could map the physical space around you with a set of outward-facing cameras. The Nreal Air glasses, on the other hand, do not have outward-facing cameras. They can display video and phone apps, but they can’t see your surroundings, which means they don’t have the spatial awareness and hand-tracking options of Nreal Light. You will control them with a smartphone application, an option also available on the Light glasses.
The advantage is that the Nreal Air goggles are ironically much lighter than the Light goggles at 77 grams instead of 106 grams. They don’t have the slightly buggy look that Light glasses do – in product renderings, they look more like Facebook and Ray-Ban smart glasses, minus the front cameras. (The Ray-Ban Stories glasses, which have cameras but no AR display, weigh around 50 grams.) The new glasses allow users to tilt the lenses at three angles, potentially allowing more people get a clearer picture. The Nreal Light glasses were launched with support for specific 5G Android phones, but the new glasses will also work when connected to iPhones and iPads as well as “most” Android devices.
Compared to the Light, the Nreal Air glasses also have a higher screen refresh rate of 90 Hz and an increased pixel density of 49 PPD. Nreal says the glasses have a 46 degree field of view, compared to that of Nreal Light 52 degrees – he assimilates the view from the Air with a 130-inch screen at 3 meters or a 201-inch screen at 6 meters. If wearers have friends with Nreal glasses, there is a viewing party option that turns that screen into a shared virtual theater where they can all watch the same media.
Nreal intends to expand the rollout of the Air glasses in 2022, and a spokesperson said the United States is a “major market” for the company, although it has not announced plans to do so. ‘ship there. As for the Light, it will sell the glasses in partnership with the main telephone operators; he did not name specific partners, but he has already worked with the German Deutsche Telekom, the Korean LG Uplus and the Japanese KDDI.
A spokesperson for Nreal said the company developed the Air after realizing that most users primarily use the glasses to watch streaming videos (and to a lesser extent, browse the web) or to develop programs. applications for the platform. In Korea, around 78% of users watched streaming content with glasses. “Consumers today are looking for lighter, more durable AR glasses exclusively for media streaming and home work,” company founder Chi Xu said in a statement. According to Nreal, the absence of cameras is also supposed to reassure passers-by that the glasses do not threaten their privacy.
Nreal is one of a handful of mainstream smart glasses, and these findings could indicate what people actually expect from AR headsets. But neither did Nreal do a concerted piece for experiences that blend the real and virtual worlds – a use case other companies like Facebook have placed more emphasis on. Instead, he’s focusing on something he already knows people love: binge-watching videos.