Nreal, the Chinese startup behind the Nreal Light AR glasses which made a splash back at CES 2019, has now expanded to the United States, making the smartphone-tethered device available through select Verizon stores starting today.
Nreal Light is a pair of AR glasses that are physically connected to a smartphone via USB Type-C to drive its graphics and provide power, making it lighter than standalone AR headsets like HoloLens 2 since it’s offloaded the need for an internal battery, chipset, and cooling to the phone itself.
Relative to enterprise-focused AR headsets like Magic Leap 2 and HoloLens 2, it’s also less expensive due to the inclusion of cheaper and less complicated optics, called ‘birdbath’ optics, which project light from a microdisplay to the eye via what’s essentially a curved see-through mirror (among other things).
As for apps, the AR glasses play bespoke content in pre-defined playspaces, all of which you can download from Google Play, such as Table Trenches, a 1v1 tabletop strategy game.
It also boasts a screen mirroring function for your phone so you can use every app on it, as well as the ability to use multiple browser windows so you can watch a video and surf the web in different floating monitors. The tethered smartphone acts primarily as a laser pointer selector, something Oculus Go and Google Daydream users will be very familiar with in terms of UI interaction.
That’s the value proposition at least, as Nreal Light goes on sale in the US today for $599. Rollout in that country comes first to select brick-and-mortar Verizon stores. According to Tom’s Hardware, online sales via Verizon will kick off on December 2nd and those physical stores will act as places to demo Nreal Light before consumers buy it.
Nreal Light boasts a fairly wide compatibility list, with the following phones offering support:
- Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
- Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G
- Samsung Galaxy S21 5G
- Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
- Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G UW
- Samsung Galaxy S20 5G UW
- Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G
- OnePlus 8 5G UW
- OnePlus 9 5G UW
The company says Light will also support iPhones in some capacity, however it hasn’t specified how that works.
Before its release in the US, Nreal has rolled out via telecoms in South Korea, Japan, Germany and Spain. The Beijing-based company also recently closed a $100 million Series C financing round which it will use for R&D and to widen its international reach.
Nreal Light has yet to launch in its Chinese homeland, however Nreal CEO Chi Xu has previously said it may happen at some point in 2022 along with “more countries as well.”