Augmented reality company Nreal is launching a more compact, iOS-compatible, and cheaper version of its smart glasses. The new Nreal Air goggles are supposed to ship from December 2021 in Japan, China and South Korea. Pricing is not set, but Nreal says they will cost “a fraction of the price” of its previous Nreal Light lenses, which started selling for around $ 600 last year.
According to Nreal’s description, the new Nreal Air glasses have some basic similarities to the 2020 Nreal Light glasses. Both are designed to look like relatively normal sunglasses and are ideal for projecting a large virtual screen in front of your eyes. Both use micro OLED displays for their augmented reality optics and work with a phone via a connecting cable. And both are aimed at consumers rather than businesses, researchers, or the military.
But the Nreal Air glasses have a different set of features than their predecessors. Like 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. Nreal Air glasses, by contrast, do not have outward-facing cameras. They can show video and phone apps, but they can’t see your surroundings, which means they don’t have spatial awareness and manual tracking options the Nreal Light does. You will control them with a smartphone app, an option that is also available in the Light glasses.
The advantage is that the Nreal Air glasses are ironically much lighter than the Light glasses at 77 grams instead of 106 grams. They don’t have the slightly bulging-eyed look that Light glasses have; in product renderings, they look more like Facebook and Ray-Ban smart glasses, minus the front cameras. (Ray-Ban Stories glasses, which have cameras but no AR display, weigh about 50 grams.) The new glasses allow users to tilt the lenses at three angles, making it potentially easier for more people to get a clearer image. The Nreal Light glasses were released with support for specific 5G Android phones, but the new glasses will also work as long as they are 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 90Hz and a higher pixel density of 49 PPD. Nreal says the glasses’ field of view is 46 degrees, compared to Nreal Light 52 degree – equates the view of the Air with a 130-inch screen at 3 meters away or a 201-inch screen at 6 meters. If users have friends with Nreal glasses, there is a viewing party option that turns that screen into a shared virtual theater where everyone can watch the same media.
Nreal intends to expand the launch of the Air glasses in 2022, and a spokesperson says the United States is an “important market” for the company, although it has not announced plans to ship there. As with Light, it will sell the glasses in partnership with the main telephone operators; He has not named specific partners, but has previously worked with Deutsche Telekom of Germany, LG Uplus of Korea and KDDI of Japan.
A spokesperson for Nreal says the company developed Air after realizing that most users primarily used the glasses to watch real-time video (and to a lesser extent surf the web) or to develop applications for the platform. . In Korea, about 78 percent of users watched streaming content with the glasses. “Today’s consumers are looking for lighter but more durable AR glasses exclusively for streaming media and working from home,” said company founder Chi Xu in a statement. According to Nreal, the lack of cameras is also supposed to reassure viewers that the glasses do not threaten their privacy.
Nreal is one of the few consumer smart glasses, and these results could indicate what people really want from AR headphones. But Nreal has also not made a concerted game for experiences that mix the real and virtual worlds, a use case that other companies like Facebook have emphasized more. Instead, you’re focusing on something you already know people love: binge watching video.