The $1200 HoloLens alternative could be the everyday AR headset we’ve been waiting for.
A lot has been said about AR technology; how it can change the way we learn, socialize, and work. In order to access many of the best experiences, however, you must usually wear an awkward-looking headset, such as the HoloLens 2 or the Magic Leap One. While not the ugliest devices on the market, they’re still bulky enough that might you’d definitely get a couple of odd looks if you were to wear one at the grocery store or out on the street.
On top of that, AR glasses typically come with a steep price. The HoloLens 2 starts at $3000, followed by the Magic Leap One at $2200. Call me crazy, but awkward, bulky, and expensive hardware doesn’t sound like an effective way to get more AR devices into the hands of the common folks.
The solution could be Nreal’s Light glasses, a ready-to-wear AR headset that looks like a pair of normal sunglasses, only with some sexy, thicc curves and a price half that of Magic Leap’s.
Previously available as to limited Nreal Developer Program applicants, the “Nreal Light Developer Kit” will be available for pre-order to all developers for $1,199 USD. The kit includes a pair of Nreal Light glasses, a 3 DoF controller about the size of a small puck, and Nreal’s proprietary computing pack.
The slick looking glasses, which I was lucky enough to demo at OC6 back in September, are super light at only 85 grams. They also boast a wide 52-degree field of view — just slightly smaller than Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 FOV — and the digital content looked great. The glasses themselves look and feel like regular glasses, with the exception of a thin cable tethering the headset to a small pocket computer or smartphone.
It is also the first smart glasses that have come down in price and size. Thanks to partnerships with tech companies such as OPPO, Xiaomi, and LG’s 5G smartphone franchise, Nreal Light’s compatibility with Android devices could make it the first smart glasses convenient enough to wear everywhere you go; so much that they could possibly end up replacing your smartphone.
It’s not quite the same experience as the HoloLens 2, but that’s okay. It’s not meant to be this super tool in the same vein as Microsoft’s 2nd Gen AR headset. Instead, it offers a more subtle experience meant to be something that is both functional and fashionable.
To further establish Nreal’s global footprint, the company today made its market entry into Korea thanks to a new partnership with LGUplus, which will see the launch of a trial service ahead of Nreal Light’s expected commercialization during the first half of 2020. The trial service jointly establishes a 5G customer experience zone that will be expanded to 35 stores and 5 pop-up stores nationwide in Korea.
In an official press release, Chi Xu, CEO, and Founder of Nreal said, “We’re excited to announce the pre-order program and make Nreal Light Developer Kit available for the first batch of developers,” adding, “This early access will allow developers to migrate existing apps onto Nreal Light’s platform or build new, innovative Mixed Reality applications.”
There are so many amazing possibilities with AR. The technology has already proven a game-changer in terms of everyday assistance, much like how the smartphone reshaped our daily lives. But the high price was a definite barrier; even fashion played a role in that change. The goal for Nreal is to make a device that is affordable, looks great on you, and capable of giving you a solid AR experience.
“We will popularize AR glasses so that customers can experience rich content powered by 5G more realistically through an alliance with Nreal,” said Song Dae-won, managing director of Future Device Unit in LGUplus.
The Nreal Developer Kit is currently available worldwide with devices shipping to the US and other countries; Korean markets will have access to Nreal glasses through a partnership with Korean 5G carrier, LGUplus.
You can pre-order the Nreal Light Developer Kit at Nreal’s website. More information about the Nreal Developer Program can be found here.
Feature Image Credit: Nreal