Nreal Air smart glasses to arrive later this year - Close-up of the Nreal Air smart glasses

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Nreal Air glasses are more ‘smart’ than ‘AR’

Quick read

➨ Nreal Air uses micro OLED displays, connects to a mobile device via cable for power, processing and content, and weighs just 77g
➨ The glasses do lack outward-facing cameras, meaning they cannot map the area around the wearer, so they are not spatially aware and provide no hand tracking
➨ Nreal aims to begin shipping the new smart glasses in December 2021 across Japan, China, and South Korea

The story

Nreal has revealed the new product that it promised last week—a pair of smart glasses that weigh less than Nreal Light and should be much cheaper, but lack immersive augmented reality (AR) capabilities.

Nreal Air uses micro OLED displays, connects to a mobile device via cable for power, processing and content, and weighs just 77g, well below the 106g of Light, according to The Verge.

However, unlike Nreal Light, these glasses lack outward-facing cameras, meaning they cannot map the area around the wearer, so they are not spatially aware and provide no hand tracking.

With these new glasses, the AR device manufacturer seems to be acknowledging an appetite for immersive technologies that bring social and video media consumption together, at a price point well below enterprise AR glasses and headsets such as Magic Leap 1 and Microsoft HoloLens 2.

Facebook and EssilorLuxottica took a similar approach with the recently revealed Ray-Ban Stories, which is aimed at the Spectacles market of social media users and media consumers.

Light retailed for around $600 and The Verge quotes Nreal as promising the new glasses will cost “a fraction of the price”.

Nreal has also stepped further away from ideal AR glasses with a reduction in the field of view (FOV).

Nreal Air’s FOV is 46°, down from Nreal Light’s 52° and well below what is required for a powerful AR experience.

The new glasses do have a higher screen refresh rate of 90Hz and an increased pixel density of 49 PPD, however, so the video and app viewing experience could well be high quality.

Nreal Air smart glasses to arrive later this year - Front view of the Nreal Air smart glasses
Front view of the Nreal Air smart glasses

Nreal aims to begin shipping the new smart glasses in December 2021 across Japan, China, and South Korea, where it partners with major smartphone carriers.

Next year could see Nreal Air (and Light) arrive in other European countries outside of Spain and Germany where the company’s flagship product is already present, and the US remains high on its list of target markets.

Do not forget that Nreal landed $100 million of series C funding last week to fund the next stage of its growth.

The company said it intends to “introduce new products and services that are tailored to select use cases”, strengthen its partnerships with carriers, increase its content offering through partnerships with streaming services and game developers, and “drive exploration for opportunities in the metaverse”.

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Image credits: Nreal

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