Nreal Launches its Lightweight Nreal Air AR Glasses for Video Streaming
China-based Nreal is one of the mixed reality companies riding the early wave in augmented reality glasses hardware. The company has this week unveiled its second-generation smart glasses, the Nreal Air, which come with plenty of improvements over the previous Nreal Light smart glasses.
Nreal’s aim is to stay on the fast lane and on the leading edge of the still nascent smart glasses technology and to build several generations of products so as to ready itself with the perfect product when the AR train takes off a few years from now. Nreal has pitched its latest product, the Nreal Air, as a “portable movie theater.”
The new Nreal Air smart glasses will only weigh 2.7 ounces or 77 grams. They are also smaller and more compact than the previous Nreal Light glasses that weigh approximately 100 grams and were launched in 2019.
According to Nreal CEO Chi Xu, there have been exponential advancements in augmented reality technology since the launch of the Nreal Light smart glasses. These advancements have contributed to the feasibility of the smaller and more compact augmented reality technology. Nreal also designed its new glasses for specific applications like playing mobile games and streaming TV shows.
According to Xu, when it launched the Nreal Light in 2019, the company had expected that the glasses would come in handy for productivity-related applications but it turned out most were simply using them for entertainment and media consumption. The latest iteration of Nreal glasses have, therefore, been specifically designed for entertainment.
The company is aiming to create immersive experiences inside form factors that will be no different from your typical ordinary sunglasses. During the launch, the Nreal boss didn’t disclose the exact tech details of the Nreal Air glasses but stated that the glasses had the best display in the market currently for any augmented reality device as these smart glasses are capable of projecting upwards of a (simulated) 201-inch virtual display from a distance of 6 meters. Such specification is perfectly suited for media content consumption.
Just like the Nreal Light glasses, the Nreal Air smart glasses will be tethered to a smartphone. However, the Air are several degrees lighter as well as a lot more comfortable to wear than other previous AR hardware.
The Nreal Air smart glasses feature an adjustable three-step rake system. This design enables users to adjust viewing angle simply by tilting the lenses. It also features elastic temples which hug the head tightly and ensure the glasses won’t slip.
The design of the Nreal Air also features an outward-facing camera which focuses on the theater experience. The Air also have a field of view of 46 degrees which is wider than that of the Nreal Light smart glasses.
The company’s main competitors include the Magic Leap One, Microsoft HoloLens, and, potentially, a future Apple mixed reality device.
The Nreal Air has impressive specs. It has a micro-OLED display. Its display features a high color densitg as has up to 49 pixels per density (PPD). Such a pixel density allows for the rendering of very fine details while also enhancing the realism of the content, according to Xu. The Nreal Air smart glasses also have a high refresh rate of up to 90Hz. The features of the Nreal Air will also not drain the phone’s battery. According to Xu, the company pumped lots of resources into color and image quality.
Compatibility with iOS
The Nreal Air smart glasses are also compatible with Apple iOS devices. The smart glasses will therefore support both iOS and Android devices, a rarity in connected environments.
According to Xu, up to 78% of users in South Korea had used its Nreal Light glasses in watching streaming content which informed the company’s pivot to entertainment use-cases as opposed to productivity-related use-cases originally envisioned for the glasses.
Launch in December 2021 in Select Markets
Nreal Air glasses are slated for launch in December 2021 in Japan, China and South Korea. The company will be partnering with major carriers in the respective countries for the launch. The company is set to continue its rollout in other major markets, including, possibly, the US market, in 2022. Pricing for the smart glasses will be set by its local carrier partners but the company said Air will be retailing at a fraction of the Nreal Light pricing.
Nreal plans to take its Nreal Light to the enterprise market while the Nreal Air smart glasses will be consumer-focused. You can order the Nreal Light Developer Kit here.
To date, Nreal has raised over $185 million. Its AR glasses debuted in Japan, Europe and South Korea. According to Xu, Nreal currently has 250 employees and that its China headquarters is an advantage as the company is closer to the supply chains and is able to move faster as a result. According to Xu, by going early and first, Nreal will be able to slice up an early market share.