Following a demonstration earlier this year at CES that wowed many, Nreal says its augmented reality sunglasses are ready for rollout.
It'll cost $499, which is surprisingly low for the category of devices it's in, and will begin shipping this year. For the uninitiated, the Nreal Light isn't a standalone pair of AR glasses — it needs to be plugged into a smartphone powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor over USB Type-C.
Nreal says the glasses will be available to consumer in "limited quantities" sometime later this year, then go on to roll out more widely the following year. For developers, there's a much more expensive kit that includes the glasses, a controller, and a computing pack that can substitute for a phone. It's $1,199.
Nreal Light AR Glasses
As for the glasses itself, Nreal is a somewhat less fancy, presumably less powerful implementation of an experience Google attempted with its now-defunct Glass device. However, it offers a much more polished and streamlined design and overall interface. It's somewhere between a heads-up display and a high-end, Magic Leap-like mixed reality device. Despite this, it looks like any normal pair of sunglasses, which is crucial.
Why Google Glass Failed
A huge part of why Google Glass failed, apart from its clunky, undercooked experience, is that it looked like a device from the future. Normally, that's a merit. But critics found it far too weird and unusual-looking. Thankfully, Nreal Light corrects this aesthetic blunder and boasts a design people will actually want to wear.
Nreal Light can be used to watch video on virtual screens. But as on any AR platforms, it also allows users to place virtual objects in the real world and look around them as if they're actually there.
Although the Nreal Light is, as the name suggests, lightweight, the visual quality is surprisingly high, as The Verge noted in its first impressions back in January. However, its spatial mapping and tracking abilities didn't seem to hold a candle to competing AR platforms. It's unclear if this aspect remains unchanged, but Tech Times will know more for sure once the device is out.
Nreal is part of Qualcomm's XR certification program, and is in fact one of the first headset makers to participate in such efforts. It's supposed to take advantage of 5G connectivity to bolster stream-based experiences, such as playing games over the cloud, using software, and watching video on AR glasses. Qualcomm is partnering with a lot of companies for this, including big names in China, Japan, Korea, and Switzerland.