Nreal AR Glasses to Get Hand and Finger Tracking
Nreal is busy improving the capabilities of its Nreal Light AR glasses as it moves closer to the launch of the consumer version of the glasses. The mixed reality company is bolstering the glasses with sets of features that are likely to appeal to end users. The company has now announced that it is adding high-fidelity optical hand tracking solution to the glasses. Nreal is also expanding the platform’s apps and carrier support.
The hand tracking solution is from Clay AIR and will enable a camera-based system that will allow for the tracking of gestures such as grabbing, pinching, pointing and swiping. At the same time, it will display dynamic real-time hand skeleton overlays on top of the user’s real hands. This is similar to the optical hand tracking that was recently introduced in Oculus Quest. If the connected smartphone will be using a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 or 865 processor, then users can look forward to smooth hand-rendering that will even include the option of displaying full hands, the individual hands or various kinds of custom skins instead of skeletons.
According to the companies, the hand tracking and rendering features will not have much collective impact on the battery life. The drain on the batteries will be fairly modest.
This will equip the Nreal Light AR glasses with a feature that is already standard in the Microsoft HoloLens mixed reality headset. However, in Nreal Light, this will be available in a much smaller and less conspicuous package.
The handheld controllers are still supported, including a 5G-enabled smartphone. However, the hand-tracking functionality will be ideal for carrying out simple actions without having to draw out a piece of hardware.
It will also be considerably easier to incorporate as a software update as many of the virtual reality and augmented reality headsets already have built-in cameras. Last month, the Oculus Quest headset also got a controller-free hand tracking functionality. Developers will be able to integrate Clay AIR’s tracking into their Nreal apps and even add customizations such as the virtual hand overlays.
Both Nreal and Clay AIR are Qualcomm partners. Following a recent partnership, the Nreal Light mixed reality headset is already part of a major push by Qualcomm for mixed reality headsets. Nreal is primed in a good position for success which made it a natural choice for Qualcomm. The mixed reality industry has seen mixed results over the past few years. Some of the more promising startups such as Daqri, ODG and Meta have gone bust and the best-funded startup, Magic Leap, is yet to come up with a winning formula in spite of billions of dollars in investments. Magic Leap is currently pivoting towards the much smaller enterprise market.
On top of the hand and finger tracking functionality, Nreal also announced that it will be expanding the previously announced European carrier partnerships whereby EE will offer its Light headsets to customers in the UK while Deutsche Telekom will provide the Light headsets and custom 5G apps to customers based in Germany as well as other markets in Europe.
There will be new 5G gaming and entertainment content for Light which will join the collaborative remote repair app AR Field Advisor that was showcased last December during the Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Tech Summit.
Deutsche Telekom is partnering with Nreal to help “unleash the full potential of mixed reality” that will help bring out the limitless potential that 5G can provide to both professionals and consumers. The carrier is planning to provide 5G connectivity, edge computing as well as content such as sports events, concerts and games for the Nreal Light AR headset.
Nreal also announced the Nebula launcher system in January which will be the 3D hub for Light apps that run on Android along with the 2D Android apps that users would wish to experience via the Augmented Reality glasses. Last month, the mixed reality company also announced that it is working with Spatial to roll out a holographic collaborative work and social app for the Light AR headset. The company is also looking into developing mixed reality workspace options with Datamesh.
The Nreal Light consumer kit will cost $499 and is set to be released in the second quarter of 2020. The developer version goes for $1,199 and is already available.